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When Did Threading a Needle Become So Difficult?

November 4, 2019 3:13 PM

Dear Readers,

Have you tried to thread a needle recently? Why does the hole seem to get smaller and smaller the older I get?

Without my reading glasses, the task is impossible. It looks like the thread is going directly into the hole, but when I peek through the other end, I realize that it was a miss. Finally, I concede defeat and put on my glasses, and suddenly, the task is doable.

Did the hole get any bigger? Of course not. But my perspective changed. My eyesight became stronger and what appeared blurry before is now much clearer.

A Torah perspective is like putting on reading glasses. The challenges in our lives still remain as thorny, complex and difficult. The hole is the same hole. But what had felt like an impossible, insurmountable hurdle has just gotten a drop less intimidating because our priorities are clearer. The possibility of overcoming what had felt so debilitating suddenly has grown larger. That doesn’t mean the problem will be solved instantly, but we can feel encouraged that what we are going through is purposeful, and for our growth and benefit, even when we can’t discern how.

Prayer is an example of reaching such an enriched perspective. The word to pray is l’hitpallel, which is reflexive. Prayer is considered avodah shebalev (Taanis2a), a “service of the heart.” It requires work and service, but ultimately, it is meant to create a change within us. We recognize all the good in our life, and as we seek G‑d’s assistance with our current trial, we can breathe a little easier, knowing that G‑d has heard us.

Shabbat is another means of changing our perspective. Every week, it brings illumination to our world, which so often seems so dark. While every mitzvah introduces light into the world, the Shabbat candles generate actual light.

Picture a home in the few minutes before the onset of Shabbat. It is often frenzied as last-minute tasks are hectically being done in preparation of the holy day. The moment after the candles are lit, a peace descends. Is it the same room, the same walls as five minutes ago? Of course! But it’s an entirely different environment as a new spiritual, peaceful aura encapsulates our world.

Every mitzvah accomplishes this. So when we say a blessing on our apple, we broaden our appreciation and gratitude, just as we do when we give charity to a fellow. When we hang a mezuzah on our door, we remember that we are being embraced and protected by G‑d.

The word mitzvah has a dual meaning: “commandment” and “bond.” Every mitzvah connects us to G‑d by doing His command, and gifts us with a clearer perspective of how to view ourselves and our world.

Wishing you a week of wonderfully clear perspectives—and easy needle-threading.

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.

Do You Like Airports?

November 4, 2019 3:11 PM

Dear Readers,

Some people hate airports. They are so big and busy. There’s so much noise and confusion, in addition to so much walking from one part to another.

Personally, I like airports. Let me clarify: I don’t mean that I like standing in a long security line snaking forward slowly when my plane is about to close its doors. But when I have those few extra minutes before my plane departs, I like to watch all the people coming and going, rushing to and from their destinations, imagining where they all might be heading. I watch the families with young children heading off to their long-awaited vacation spots, and the men and women in work attire preparing to clinch their next big deal. I like to look out the floor-to-ceiling windows, and watch the planes descend and ascend on to new journeys.

What I like about airports is the movement. Some people are running and some walk leisurely; some work on their laptops as they await their departure and some talk on phones about their upcoming meetings.

Most people in airports have a sense of purpose about them; they know what they need to do. There is constant movement. Determined, focused movement.

Every traveler has a destination. No one just flounders, unsure of their endpoint. If a traveler doesn’t know how to progress, they ask for assistance. If something has gone wrong along the way—they missed a connecting flight, or their flight has been delayed or cancelled—they actively work on arranging new solutions.

Airports remind me of a quote from the book of prophets. The Prophet Zechariah says: “I shall make you movers (mehalchim) among these who stand still (omdim)” (Zachariah 3:7). From a spiritual perspective, the souls of human beings are considered mehalchim (“walkers”) who move, while angels are considered “those who stand still.”

We need to constantly be on the move, reaching for new heights. We cannot suffice with stagnating or staying as we are. Rather than remaining stuck, we chip away at our fears and insecurities and whatever is blocking our progress. We challenge ourselves to go that extra mile, to reach up and develop parts of ourselves we never thought we could, to discover new areas of growing or new solutions to our challenges.

The growth and movement we seek may start with a call, an email, an offer or an inquiry to learn or do something new, but it can help us travel to new frontiers, to reach destinations we never imagined possible.

Wishing you a week of positive movement.

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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