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All It Takes Is One

October 29, 2017

Dear Readers,

Sometimes, when I look around, I feel surrounded by negativity, by doom and gloom.

I see the many social wrongs that are being tolerated. I discern rampant judgmentalism and condescension in our communities. I see a world that is very far from the ideals of where it should be.

Rather than feeling like we are progressing forward on our sojourn towards a better reality, our situation can sometimes feel pretty helpless. It can feel like steps backwards. There are undeniably too may collective ills, too many cracks and far too many people not walking the walk or talking the talk of the high ideals that the Torah aspires to.

But then I remember. G‑d doesn’t demand perfection.

In this week’s Torah portion, there’s an unbelievable exchange between Abraham and G‑d. G‑d has just informed Abraham that He intends to destroy the wicked cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. True to his character, Abraham pleads for mercy and begins brokering with G‑d.

He begins his negotiations by entreating G‑d to forgive the people if there are even 50 righteous individuals in these cities. Eventually, he squeezes G‑d to withhold punishment if even 10 righteous people exist.

In these highly populated yet morally depraved cities, where the cruelest behaviors were tolerated and encouraged, all that was necessary to prevent destruction was 10 people standing true to their morals.

10. That’s all.

Maimonides tells us to view our world as being half-good and half-evil. We don’t need to change the world and all its moral wrongs. All we need to do is one act of goodness to tip the scales in our favor.

Just one positive act by one individual.

And that person can be any of us.

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.

It’s Tough to Find G-d During Tough Times

October 22, 2017

Dear Readers,

Do life’s hardships overwhelm you and make you feel disconnected from G‑d?

The first parents of our nation present a powerful lesson on how to approach such times. In their advanced years, Abraham and Sarah are told to travel to Canaan.

Canaan, the ancient name for the Land of Israel, also means “merchant.” A merchant symbolizes wealth, bounty, opportunity. Spiritually, too, the name signifies a profound closeness to G‑d. Abraham experiences a closer relationship with G‑d, and is promised that he will inherit Canaan.

But then a challenge appears . . . “There was a famine in the land, and Abram went down to Egypt.”

Spiritually, a famine is a test of faith, when our spirituality becomes dulled.

Abraham instructs Sarah: “When the Egyptians see you, they will say ‘This is his wife,’ and they will kill me. . . . Therefore, please say that you are my sister, so that they will benefit me because of you . . .”

There is a metaphorical, spiritual lesson in these words.

In Canaan, a land of spiritual bounty, Abraham and Sarah live openly as husband and wife, and love each other as only spouses can.

But then Sarah and Abraham end up in Egypt—Mitzrayim, in Hebrew—a name that connotes constraints and limitation. Abraham instructs Sarah to conceal their true relationship and to say that she is his sister.

The relationship of siblings is innate, inborn and constant. The bond with a spouse, however, is chosen; its love is created and is subject to change. That’s what gives the marriage its intensity and passion.

King Solomon speaks of the Jewish people’s relationship with G‑d as being that of both a sister and a wife.

In Canaan, when we are in a space where we feel G‑d’s presence and bounty in our lives, G‑d is our beloved, our spouse.

But then a famine arrives. It’s a period of scarcity and challenge, testing our resolve. The relationship becomes strained. We no longer feel the richness, the “merchant” of Canaan. We are in Egypt, a place of meitzarim, of limitations.

Now comes the lesson—“say you are my sister.” Realize that even in moments when you feel disconnected from G‑d, from your nation and from your soul, G‑d is with you. G‑d isn’t only a spouse, but also a sibling.

We are G‑d’s people because G‑dliness is inborn in our being. Like the bond between siblings, it may not always be passionate, but it is always there.

We crave a relationship with G‑d that is alive, vibrant and passionate, like the relationship of a loving spouse. We want to feel like we’re living in the Holy Land, surrounded by spiritual blessings.

But even when we experience our personal famines—times of meitzarim, constraints and hardships—our relationship with G‑d still exists.

And we can always tap into this love and revive it.

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.

Embraced by G-d

October 1, 2017

Dear Readers,

We recently celebrated the joyous occasion of the marriage of our third daughter. For the final sheva brachot, we had the privilege of hosting the young couple, together with other family members.

I enjoyed watching how my new son-in-law seamlessly merged into our family’s dynamics to truly becoming a son, and brother, to the rest of us. I loved observing, too, how the young couple interacted with each other, seeing their kindness and tenderness, and witnessing how two independent souls and personalities were fusing to become united as one.

During this special time—this beginning of their new life together—the newlyweds are in their own bubble of time and space, living in a dimension all of their own. It’s downright obvious in the glances, smiles and giggles that they exchange, and in the little gestures that they do for each other. Even while conversing and intermingling with others, there is almost an invisible wall encircling them—building, strengthening and protecting their budding relationship, where nothing exists but the two of them.

Perhaps that’s a little like the holiday of Sukkot.

We have just experienced the High Holiday season, where we spent our days reinforcing our connection and recommitting ourselves to G‑d. We asked G‑d to renew His relationship with us, just as we re-pledged our allegiance. It was a serious and awesome time. And now, G‑d asks us, before going back to the mundane schedules of our lives to spend one more holiday enfolded in the joyous celebration of His loving embrace.

We leave our material possessions, the protection of our permanent homes and the distraction of the daily grind of our schedules, and enter into the temporary sukkah. We enter with our entire being—eating, drinking and living there. For an entire week, we make this transient, precariously roofed hut into our home.

But within the walls of the sukkah, we realize that our protection and gratification does not come from the bricks of our homes or in the pleasure of the materialism we have left behind. Encircled within its bare walls, we have entered a new dimension of time and space, where we can feel our bond and connection with G‑d. As we look up to the open sky, we come to realize that only this relationship has eternal meaning, and that G‑d is our only Protector and Provider.

Hopefully, we will hold onto G‑d’s embrace. Hopefully, we will take the joy with us as we back to our permanent homes and into the nitty-gritty schedule of daily life, though now, greatly enriched.

Wishing you a very joyous Sukkot and Simchat Torah holiday!

And wishing my new son and daughter tremendous happiness and joy in their life together!

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 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.
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