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Eight Chanukah Lessons That Teach an Enlightening Perspective on Life

December 25, 2016

Dear Readers,

Like many of you, I love the holiday of Chanukah. It is a time of so much joy, festivities and light-filled family gatherings.

Chanukah’s story of salvation also teaches us deep lessons that we can apply to our own lives throughout the year.

Here are eight lessons that I learn from the Chanukah miracles that teach a beautiful perspective on how to live a more meaningful life:

  1. Few can win over many. It’s not the numbers that are always so significant; it’s the passion and the power of your conviction.
  2. Don’t conform to popular opinion just because it is popular. Stay true to yourself and your inner values.
  3. A little light can dispel much darkness. One positive word or one positive action can erase so much gloom.
  4. Don’t fight darkness; enlighten it by shining the light of truth and purpose. Don’t dwell on negativity or failures; instead, focus on positive change.
  5. Increase the light every night. Don’t be satisfied with your achievements; keep aiming higher.
  6. It is not enough to light up one’s own self; light up the outdoors as well. Share your wisdom and good fortune with others.
  7. When we go beyond our natural abilities, G‑d responds with miracles.
  8. The Jewish people are a miraculous nation. Despite all those who tried to decimate us, we are here to stay—and to thrive and flourish.

What lessons do you learn from the Chanukah lights? Please share in the comments below.

Wishing you a very joyous, light-filled Chanukah!

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.

The Bear Who Chased a Child

Vayishlach

December 11, 2016

Dear Reader,

A father moved into a home facing a forest. He repeatedly warned his young and mischievous son about the dangers of the forest and its many ferocious beasts. But the son ignored his father and chose to explore his surroundings.

One day, the young boy climbed over the fence enclosing his home and ventured into the forest. Deciding that it was time to teach his son a lesson, the father dressed up as a bear and followed his son.

As the vicious bear chased him, the child cried out, “Daddy! Daddy! Help me! Save me!” But his father did not appear.

The bear attacked the boy, and his screams grew louder and more frantic. Finally, with his last ounce of strength, he escaped the bear’s claws, climbed over the fence and breathlessly ran home.

“Daddy, didn’t you hear me?!” He cried to his father. “A bear was attacking me! I called you, but you didn’t come!”

“My son,” his father lovingly answered. “Didn’t you realize? I was the bear.”

I thought of this story as I read this week’s Torah portion. Jacob prepared to meet his brother, Esau, after twenty years of enmity and was “greatly afraid and distressed.”1

Jacob emerged from this meeting unscathed. Upon parting, he assured Esau that he would travel at his own pace and would eventually meet him in Seir. Seir refers to the Messianic era when there will no longer be conflict between Jacob and Esau.2

The meeting between Jacob and Esau represents the cosmic meeting between light and darkness, Divine consciousness and ego-centeredness, spirituality and physicality, good and bad.

Jacob was seeking not only to neutralize his brother, so he would not harm him, but to encourage Esau to join forces with him. Jacob realized, however, that harnessing Esau’s strengths would be a long and arduous process that would only happen in the Messianic era.

We, too, are traveling towards “Seir” at our own pace. Until we arrive there, our lives are consumed with fighting the negativity and overcoming the challenges of our encounters with our own versions of Esau.

But, if G‑d is all good, why do we need so many of these encounters? Why is life such a dark and difficult battle?

It’s a question that we can never fully answer, for if we could justify evil, wouldn’t we become it? If we understood the role of darkness, we wouldn’t work so hard to eradicate it.

Nevertheless, the Kabbalists explain that G‑d created evil so that it can be exploited by goodness. Darkness and cruelty exist in order to be transformed into light. Challenges abound so that we can dig deep within ourselves and mine our infinite potential.

As we face our challenges, as we encounter our battles with Esau, it can help us to remember that the bear isn’t as fearful as he seems.

Hiding beneath his costume is our Father, trying to teach us.

Chana Weisberg,
Editor, TJW

Footnotes
2.

Midrash Rabbah on Genesis 33:14.

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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