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Let ‘Little’ Purim Bring You Big Joy

February 7, 2019 4:19 PM

Dear Readers,

It’s time to get ready to celebrate! Put on your smiling, happy and celebratory faces. This Tuesday is Purim Katan, or “Little Purim.”

What is little Purim?

Every year, we celebrate the holiday of Purim on the 14th day of the month of Adar—the day established by Mordechai and Esther as a day of “feasting and rejoicing” in commemoration of the Jews’ salvation from Haman’s evil decree in the year 3,405 from creation (356 BCE).

But approximately once every three years, we experience a leap year, when the Jewish calendar contains not one but two months called Adar: Adar I and Adar II.

During a leap year, Purim is postponed until the second Adar. Nevertheless, we mark Purim Katan, “the small Purim,” on the day that would have been Purim had the year not been a leap year, in the first month of Adar, and in this way get almost a double celebration.

What do we do on Purim Katan? We don’t read the Megillah, nor is there any special mitzvah to send food portions to friends or give gifts to the poor (though that that is always as mitzvah), as is the case on the actual Purim. Be we try to increase in festivity and joy.

As Jews, we always try to be happy, celebrating being the Jewish people living in G‑d’s beautiful world. But at some times of the year, our joy is even greater. In fact, the entire month of Adar (and in this case, both the first and second month of Adar) is a time when we increase in joy due to the upcoming celebration.

Every month possesses a distinct spiritual essence. The month (or, in a leap year, two months) of Adar contains the quality of transformative joy. Adar transforms sorrow into joy, a fearful and disunified people into a unified nation, committed and devoted to G‑d and His Torah.

So when an opportunity presents itself in the first month of Adar in the form of a day that might have been Purim—the most joyous, transformative day of the year—we should certainly rejoice and celebrate.

We live in times that can often feel so dark and challenging. While sadness, despair or depression holds us back and stagnates our progress towards change, joy breaks through barriers and helps us transform ourselves and our circumstances in ways we never imagined possible.

So this week, let’s increase even more in our joy!

How will you be more joyous on Purim Katan?

Chana Weisberg

Editor, TJW

Chana Weisberg is the editor of TheJewishWoman.org. She lectures internationally on issues relating to women, relationships, meaning, self-esteem and the Jewish soul. She is the author of six books. Her latest book, Shabbat Delights, is a two-volume series on the weekly Torah portion.

Why Are You Worried?

January 31, 2019 3:27 PM

Dear Readers,

Most of us spend an incredible amount of time worrying. We worry about our jobs, our health and our finances. We worry about not meeting our deadlines, about not waking up to our alarm clocks, about being late for our meetings. We even worry about our plane crashing.

In one study, parents were found to have spent a whopping 37 hours a week worrying about their children. That’s almost a full-time job! Women were found to generally worry more than men and often about interpersonal relationships.

Men and women alike also wrongly think that worrying helps us avoid disaster.

The truth is that some worry is good for us. Productive or instructive worry is when we take actual steps to solve our problems. So, for example, if we spent some of those 37 hours thinking about constructive ideas of how to better our children’s education and development—and then implement specific action in that direction in our day-to-day schedules—that would be productive.

But most worry is not constructive. In fact, often we worry not about a situation we are currently undergoing, but one that we fear we might need to face at some time in our future. So, right now, I may be able to pay all my bills at the end of each month, but what will happen if one day I find myself in the red? Or, right now I am managing with my health, but how will I cope in the future if my knees deteriorate?

Here’s what the Rebbe writes about worry: “You have the choice whether to worry if the blessing will or won’t materialize—and when it finally does you will be doubly burdened as to why you wasted so much energy worrying in vain—or you may choose to be strong in your faith and trust that G‑d will lead you on the straight path and fulfill your needs. Then you will be able to say: ‘Look how well I handled the situation that I didn’t worry about things there was no reason to worry about.’”

The Rebbe also writes: Faith is not something that is meant to remain only in one’s thoughts; it must permeate the whole of one’s life. Now, think this over. G‑d promises, “I will sustain and deliver you.” Now consider: Is G‑d really in need of your worry as to how He is going to run your affairs and solve your problems? Or will He succeed in finding good solutions even without your worrying? (Igrot Kodesh, vol. 4, p. 256)

There’s really no point in worrying for worry’s sake. Instead, let’s take constructive steps to change or improve things that we can, and for those things out of our control, let’s develop our faith in G‑d’s goodness.

Here’s to a worry-free week!

Chana Weisberg

Editor, TJW

Chana Weisberg is the editor of TheJewishWoman.org. She lectures internationally on issues relating to women, relationships, meaning, self-esteem and the Jewish soul. She is the author of six books. Her latest book, Shabbat Delights, is a two-volume series on the weekly Torah portion.

Announcing a Brand-New Release!

January 15, 2019 2:25 PM

Dear Readers,

I have some very exciting news for you!

I’m thrilled to announce that my latest book is now available in print and digital format.

Shabbat deLights is an inspiring collection on the weekly Torah portion with insights into many areas of daily life.

Whether in the realm of parenting, relationships, time management or personal insecurities, Shabbat deLights provides practical tools to empower Jewish people of every age and gender to deal with life’s many challenges, while giving a deeper perspective of their hidden abilities and the treasured wisdom of our G‑dly inheritance.

Every day, we face countless challenges and uncertainties. These battles drain us and distract us from our innate potential. And yet, each of us has been gifted with unimaginable powers. No matter how insignificant we may feel, no matter what path we have taken or how blemished we may feel we have become, our Divine core remains untarnished and connects us to who we are and what we can be.

Just as an arrow must be pulled back towards one’s heart to strike the heart of a distant opponent, the most powerful weapon we have to confront our fears and demons is strengthening our inner essence—knowing who we are and why we are here.

Shabbat deLights aims to be your weekly pat on your back, encouraging you to stand taller, reach deeper and be truer to yourself.

The essays are all original, contemporary and firmly rooted in the wellsprings of Chassidic thought. Produced by Chabad.org and published by Ezra Press, an imprint of Kehot Publication Society, this beautiful two-volume set comes in an attractive slip case and is a perfect gift for that someone special in your life—or as a special gift to treat yourself!

Many of the essays in Shabbat deLights originally appeared here on the pages of theJewishWoman.org or as my editor’s note. I feel incredibly fortunate and grateful to serve as the editor of theJewishWoman.org. It was the encouragement, feedback and correspondence from you, my treasured readers, that motivated me to put my essays together and publish them in a book form. And that is how the book was born!

And so I want to thank you all for being a part of this endeavor and join me in celebrating its launch!

Click here for more information on Shabbat DeLights and to order your copy.

Wishing you a wonderful week, full of deLight-ful inspiration from the wisdom of Torah!

Chana Weisberg

Editor, TJW

Chana Weisberg is the editor of TheJewishWoman.org. She lectures internationally on issues relating to women, relationships, meaning, self-esteem and the Jewish soul. She is the author of six books. Her latest book, Shabbat Delights, is a two-volume series on the weekly Torah portion.

When Darkness Illuminates

January 15, 2019 2:08 PM

Dear Readers,

Every day we battle emotional, spiritual or physical darkness. We wake up to a day full of challenges, obligations and overwhelming tasks.

Though it takes hard work, we can fight our inner darkness. We fight sadness by finding happiness; we replace anger or frustration with understanding and empathy.

Often, just by taking that first step of lighting a little candle, bringing a little positivity into our environment, we can erase the darkness. One act does it—a smile instead of a scowl, a positive “I-can-do-it” attitude instead of a feeling of defeat.

In fact, often our one act snowballs into another and then another until we have an avalanche of brightness. Our act becomes contagious, so that others, too, see our change of perspective and follow suit by “paying forward” our good deeds with their own. Eventually, we have caused even more light and illumination, and we’ve overcome and vanquished the darkness.

Sounds great, right? But here’s the thing: We can do even better. Not only can we dispel the darkness, we can actually transform the darkness itself into light.

Yisron haor min hachoshech (Koheles 2:13), means that light has a superiority over darkness. But if we look carefully at the wording, it actually translates as light’s superiority is min, “from” or “due to” the darkness. A superior light is produced through the transformation of darkness into light. The greater the challenge, the more beautiful the ensuing light.

This gives us an entirely new way of viewing our trials.

Suppose you had a dark past, and finally, through hard work, you’ve built a new life. Don’t stop there! You can use your past darkness as a means to actually shape your brighter future. You can tap into the hardship or challenge, and allow that to build yourself into someone with greater perseverance, insight, understanding and empathy in helping yourself and others deal with hardship. The challenge then becomes the drive for your growth.

Or suppose through effort, you’ve fixed the conflicts and divisive issues in your troubled marriage. You can do even more! You can use those very issues to create an even stronger relationship. Tap into those problems to understand you and your spouse’s needs and personalities better to create a bond that is unbreakable.

You can say you are sorry for making a mistake and gain forgiveness. Or you can use that lapse to teach your child how to apologize and how to overcome mistakes to become even better.

In fact, the greatest darkness, sin, can be an impetus for the greatest achievement. “Where a repentant stands, even a completely righteous individual cannot reach.” When darkness makes us intensely crave light, when sin makes us yearn for a stronger relationship with G‑d, then we have succeeded in exploiting darkness itself and transforming it into the greatest illumination.

Here’s to seeing our challenges as a motivator for reaching our greatest selves!

Chana Weisberg
Editor, TJW

Chana Weisberg is the editor of TheJewishWoman.org. She lectures internationally on issues relating to women, relationships, meaning, self-esteem and the Jewish soul. She is the author of six books. Her latest book, Shabbat Delights, is a two-volume series on the weekly Torah portion.
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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