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Here's How You Really Are a Miracle

March 11, 2018

Dear Readers,

This coming Shabbat, we welcome the new Jewish month of Nissan. The Torah calls it chodesh ha-aviv—the month of spring—since in the Land of Israel (and here, too) you can already feel the early signs of the season. It is also referred to as the first of all the months of the year.

“This month shall be to you the head of the months; to you it shall be the first of the months of the year.” (Exodus 12:2)

Two weeks before the Exodus, G‑d showed Moses the crescent new moon and instructed him to set the Jewish calendar through the mitzvah of sanctifying the new month.

Up until this point, Tishrei, the month of creation, was considered the first month of the year. Although Tishrei still begins the New Year, celebrated by Rosh Hashanah and the High Holidays, when counting the months, Nissan is considered the first month and Tishrei the seventh.

Why the change?

When G‑d created the world, He set up Divine forces, which we call nature, to govern it. Miracles were the exception. Therefore, Tishrei—the month in which the world and its natural forces came into being—was considered the primary month.

Then came Passover, the holiday when we became G‑d’s chosen people. Every Passover, we celebrate our miraculous exodus from Egypt and the birth of the Jewish people—a nation that would become living, walking miracles. Once the Jewish people become a nation, this month is counted as the first month.

The miraculous Exodus and our subsequent survival throughout the many tumultuous centuries of our history defy the very laws of nature. As Mark Twain so aptly and famously quoted, “All things are mortal but the Jew; all other forces pass, but he remains.” The existence of the Jewish people proves that when you are attached to G‑d and His Torah, you can even overcome natural limitations.

And the most profound way in which we transcend nature is by breaking through our physical and emotional limitations, striving higher and bringing an awareness of an infinite G‑d into this finite, material world.

In this month of Nissan, which defined in Hebrew also means “miracles,” let’s look around and find the many miracles in our lives! Let’s applaud, too, the many miraculous people who refuse to succumb to the challenges, pressures and setbacks that seemingly come on a daily basis, and instead insist on bringing more happiness, goodness and greatness to our world.

Wishing you a chodesh tov—a good, strong month!

Chana Weisberg

Editor, TJW

Chana Weisberg is the editor of She lectures internationally on issues relating to women, relationships, meaning, self-esteem and the Jewish soul. She is the author of five popular books.

If You Just Won the Lottery, How Would It Change Your Life?

March 4, 2018

Dear Readers,

If you just won $550 million, how would your life change? Would you continue living in the same home or community? Would you keep your current job or hobbies?

Undoubtedly, there would be many changes to your lifestyle. You might choose to upgrade your home, your travels, your vacations. You may begin frequenting more upscale shops or restaurants.

But how would such a win affect your relationships? Would your closest friends and confidants still remain that way? Would your friends view you as the same person? Would you become more generous and kind . . . or more wary and guarded?

A New Hampshire woman holds the Powerball lottery ticket that recently won $559 million. She described herself as a longtime state resident and “engaged community member.” She is fighting in court to remain anonymous so that she can continue to “walk into a grocery store or attend public events without being known.” She wants to continue living in New Hampshire, and plans to contribute a portion of her winnings to charity and give back to the community “that has given her so much.” But she wishes to do so without others knowing about it.

By the time you read this, the courts may have decided whether or not she can maintain her anonymity. But her quest highlights how a change in our status—financial, social or otherwise—can alter our relationships with others, for both good and bad.

It is a clear goal in Judaism to “walk modestly with G‑d” (Mica 6:8). Judaism abhors flaunting and praises those who do goodness quietly for its own sake, rather than for personal recognition or the affirmation of others. Maimonides teaches that the highest form of charity is one in which the giver doesn’t know the receiver and the recipient doesn’t know who helped him (Laws of Giving to the Poor 10:8).

On the other hand, when someone publicly does good deeds, he encourages others to act similarly. When billionaires Bill Gates and Warren Buffet started the Giving Pledge, they encouraged other extremely wealthy people to also commit more than half of their capital to charity and social causes. Their generosity spurred more acts of generosity.

Similarly, the Rebbe once responded to a philanthropist who wished to donate anonymously: “If a building is dedicated in your name and your name on its wall is visible to all, others will also want to give and more people will thus benefit.”

Most of us don’t find ourselves in the enviable position of winning a windfall like this New Hampshire woman. But all of us do have choices on how to conduct ourselves in our interactions with others, whether we do something quietly and anonymously, or more publicly to encourage more good deeds.

No matter what we wind up doing, our main consideration should be to increase the acts of good in our world!
Wishing you a great week,

Chana Weisberg

Editor, TJW

Chana Weisberg is the editor of She lectures internationally on issues relating to women, relationships, meaning, self-esteem and the Jewish soul. She is the author of five popular books.

This Is Your Moment to Shine!

February 25, 2018

Dear Readers,

For the Jews in ancient Persia, the situation looked terribly bleak. Haman, an avowed anti-Semite, had plotted to destroy every Jewish man, woman and child in the kingdom. He had the position, power and trust of King Achashverosh to achieve his monstrous goals. The stage was set for misery and annihilation.

Yet just as the Jews are about to despair, the story takes an unexpected twist. A slight ray of hope exists on the horizon. The turning point comes in the words that I’ve always felt were the most poignant ones in the whole story. Mordechai sends a message to Esther, his relative and Achashverosh’s queen, to approach the king, reveal her identity as a Jewess and beg for the salvation for her people.

The stakes are high. Mordechai is entreating Esther to risk her very life for the mere possibility that she can somehow change the king’s mindset and save her nation.

She hesitates. She is scared and uncertain. She considers the grave implications.

This is when Mordechai reproaches her and says: “Who can know if it is for this very reason, that you have become royalty (Esther 4:14)?” Mordechai advises her that though she can refuse to step forward—and G‑d will surely find another means for the salvation of His people—this is her chance.

In effect, Mordechai is telling her: “Perhaps this is the moment for which you have been created.” Rise to the challenge! Don’t refuse your calling!

What potent words.

Imagine if those words would accompany us in our own lives.

So many times, we confront challenges. We hesitate. We project fear and uncertainty. We shirk away. We tell ourselves that we cannot tackle the task. In fact, we must not even try. After all, who are we? Let another who is far more capable attempt it.

And the words of Mordechai ring loud: “Sure, G‑d can find another messenger. G‑d can find another means to enact His grand plan.

But what about YOU? How can you squander your chance? How can you forego this opportunity? Who knows if it is for this very situation, this very experience, that you have been created? Rise up to the challenge! You can do it!”

Chana Weisberg

Editor, TJW

Chana Weisberg is the editor of She lectures internationally on issues relating to women, relationships, meaning, self-esteem and the Jewish soul. She is the author of five popular books.

Overcoming My Computer Problems

February 18, 2018

Dear Readers,

Due to security precautions, every once in a while, our IT management team decides on new protocol. Since so many of us are logging into our computer systems, often remotely from all over the world, I understand why these practices are necessary.

But at the same time, as someone who isn’t adept to change, especially technological ones, I usually say a silent prayer before trying the new procedure, in the hopes that it will work for me.

A couple of weeks ago, we were told by our IT team that we have a new remote desktop server. “The new server is faster, has updated software, is more secure, and has some new features that I know you are going to like.” Hmmm, I thought warily as I read the memo.

We were given a new remote address and instructions for logging on and told that it should progress simply. Except “simple” is rarely a word that I use to describe anything remotely related to technology.

Sure enough, moments later, I was emailing our support team: “Please let me know how I can log on, when I tried to set up my password it did not recognize me. I am being told that the credentials that I used to log on did not work and it is asking for new credentials.”

Their response was swift: “Did you change the username to start with hq\ and then your username?”

After several more attempts, checking and rechecking to make sure I was following all directions precisely, I wrote back, “Yes, and it still isn’t working!”

Eventually, the head IT guy personally helped me figure out the glitch. Of course, I felt like a complete idiot when I discovered that I had typed the forward slash (/) instead of the backward slash (\). I am so used to using the forward slash that I didn’t even realize there is a backward slash on the keyboard! But this tiny difference made all the difference in failing to make the connection.

I learned a few things from this incident.

  1. Details are important. I’m often asked why the Code of Jewish Law goes into such intricate details and requirements for every mitzvah. Why can’t we just feel Jewish or connected to G‑d? Just as a computer can only read specific codes, spiritually, too, we enable certain connections when we follow precise instructions.
  2. It’s hard to change perceptions. Once we get used to doing things in a certain way, or viewing our circumstances as we do, we may not recognize what we are missing. Even after checking and rechecking my password, I didn’t realize I was typing the wrong key—because that was the one I always used!
  3. A friend, mentor or person with an outside perspective can help us to see what we’re doing wrong and open our eyes to new solutions or opportunities.
  4. IT professionals can be really nice, patient people.

Chana Weisberg,

Editor, TJW

Chana Weisberg is the editor of She lectures internationally on issues relating to women, relationships, meaning, self-esteem and the Jewish soul. She is the author of five popular books.

What’s the Greatest Health Benefit for You?

February 11, 2018

Dear Readers,

If I asked what would be the one change in your life that could give you the greatest health benefit, how would you respond? Would you say more exercise? Eat healthier? Sleep more? Quit smoking?

Lately, I’ve been reading more and more studies that discuss the health benefits of having interactions with friends, family, neighbors and community members as part of our daily schedules.

Want to live a longer, healthier life? Want to be happier? Then put more effort into your social life!

According to some studies, those with poor social connections had 50 percent higher odds of death than those with regular social integration. Some researchers suggest that communal connections can positively affect our longevity even more than factors like a healthy diet, a flu shot, exercise and not smoking anymore.

Researchers aren’t exactly sure how friends, family or social connections can create greater health. But they have noticed that our bodies respond physiologically better when we have the support of others. Our blood pressure and heart rate will increase less in a stressful situation if we are not alone. This applied even to children, who when they were able to speak to their mothers after stressful events showed better signs of handling their situation.

This week, we enter the Jewish month of Adar—the most joyous month on our calendar. Just around the corner is the holiday of Purim, when we gather as a community to recall the miracle of our salvation in ancient Persia when Haman sought to destroy every Jew, young and old, man and woman. As part of our celebrations, we come together as a community. We read the Megillah together in groups of people. We share gifts of food with one another. We make a festive meal together. And we make sure not to forget those less fortunate by having them join in our merriment and presenting them with gifts of charity.

Judaism knows what science and medicine are now discovering. There is no greater spiritual, emotional or physiological benefit than coming together with others—as a community, as a social network and as a friend—to share an empathetic ear and extend a helping hand.

Let’s be there for another. Not only will it make us into healthier individuals, it will make us better ones, too.

Wishing you a chodesh tov . . . a very happy and joyful month!

Chana Weisberg

Editor, TJW

Chana Weisberg is the editor of She lectures internationally on issues relating to women, relationships, meaning, self-esteem and the Jewish soul. She is the author of five popular books.

Together With Thousands of Inspirational Women

February 4, 2018

Dear Readers,

As I write this column, my thoughts are on our upcoming trip to visit my children and grandchildren in Chicago for my youngest grandson’s upsherin, the traditional first haircut of a little boy when he turns 3.

They say that grandchildren give us a second chance to do things better because they bring out the best in us. Being a grandparent is all about the enjoyment and nachas, with the obligations and disciplining rigors relegated to their parents. As a friend of mine says, “If I had known grandchildren were this much fun I would have had them first!”

But it’s also about the responsibility of leading a new generation on the right course. Lois Wyse, a prolific author, advertising executive and Jewish grandmother, is quoted as saying, “Grandchildren are the dots that connect the lines from generation to generation.”

We pass the torch of faith and values on to the next generation. We teach and mentor our children and grandchildren, and they, in turn, impart the same knowledge to their offspring, continuing the chain of our history and the bond of our nation.

Thank G‑d, I am blessed to have four grandchildren from two families. All of them are adorable, lovable, smart and cute. Two of my grandchildren are granddaughters. Both of them are proud to be named Chaya, after the Rebbetzin (one Chaya Mushka and the other Chaya because of an elder close relative named Mushka).

The Baal Shem Tov teaches that with every experience, a Jew must contemplate what can be learned from it. How much more so when a loved one passes away, when the verse itself instructs, “The living shall take to heart.” How much must we learn from a woman as great as the Rebbetzin!

This week, on the 22nd of Shevat, we commemorate the 30th yahrtzeit of Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka. To mark this date, this weekend, thousands of shluchot will gather in New York at the annual International Conference of Chabad women emissaries. These women will pay tribute to the values and teachings of this righteous woman as together they recharge, reconnect, pray and learn. They take these shared experiences back home to their own communities, where they continue to teach and inspire others.

Many countries are represented in the conference, with women flying in from destinations in the Far East, South Africa, Europe and across the former Soviet Union—with many mothers, daughters and even granddaughters in attendance together.

And this year at the conference, I, too, will sit with these thousands of strong and stimulating women, learning and being inspired. At my side will be my newly married daughter, who together with her husband are proud new shluchim dedicated to bringing the Rebbe and Rebbetzin’s message and teachings to their own community in the Bahamas, bringing the number of countries where there now are Chabad emissaries to more than 100.

From one generation to the next, the torch of faith become illuminated and passes on.

Chana Weisberg

Editor, TJW

Chana Weisberg is the editor of She lectures internationally on issues relating to women, relationships, meaning, self-esteem and the Jewish soul. She is the author of five popular books.
Often we need a break from our daily routine. A pause from life to help us appreciate life.

A little pat on the back to let us know when we're on track. A word of encouragement to help us through those bleak moments and difficult days.

Sometimes, we just yearn for some friendship and camaraderie, someone to share our heart with. And sometimes we need a little direction from someone who's been there.

So, take a short pause from the busyness of your day and join Chana Weisberg for a cup of coffee.

Chana Weisberg is the author of Tending the Garden: The Unique Gifts of the Jewish Woman and four other books. Weisberg is a noted educator and columnist and lectures worldwide on issues relating to women, faith, relationships and the Jewish soul.
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