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The Monsey Stabbing Just a Short Drive From My Home

December 30, 2019 10:32 AM

Dear Readers,

Over Chanukah, my children visited us from Chicago. After Shabbat, after the seventh lighting of the menorah, they were preparing to leave. My son-in-law and two older grandchildren were rushing in and out, busily loading their van for their long drive home early the next morning.

And then, we heard the horrendous news of the stabbing in Monsey, N.Y.: A man entered a rabbi’s home and began viciously attacking those gathered for a Chanukah get-together. This took place just a short drive from my house. Our eyes were pealed to our phones, watching the latest newsflash on community chats. We now understood why our neighbor, a Hatzalah volunteer had sped down our street just moments earlier.

Minute by nerve-wracking minute, we were updated. Pictures circulated of stretchers being carried to ambulances with police surrounding the area, sirens blaring, and soon, of the names of those injured. Many took on to recite chapters of Psalms, praying for the wounded. Warnings were issued to lock doors as the attacker was still not apprehended. My husband ran outside to tell our children, and my grandson, who overheard, had a hard time falling asleep that night.

As time progressed, we learned that the criminal had been caught, thanks to a brave man in the rabbi’s house who chased him away with a table and told the police the license plate of the car he used to flee. As Sunday morning dawned, we awoke to the news that of the five people injured, one was critical and was undergoing his second surgery. More Psalms were recited.

Our community chat groups are still focused almost exclusively on the stabbing. There is talk about organizing defense classes, and many women have signed on. There are conversations about greater security in our schools and shuls, including hiring guards and training to use guns. Practical advice is being circulated about how to be more vigilant, as well as discussions to have with our children traumatized from this insanity.

I am also reading discussions focused on spiritual growth, as many take on more mitzvot and look inner to fortify ourselves spiritually to become stronger, better human beings who can bring G‑dliness to our world.

These actions are all important.

People are scared. Coming just weeks after the horrific Jersey City shootings, many wonder if they will ever feel safe to shop in a kosher supermarket, walk to synagogue or send their children off to school. And this isn’t only happening in our quiet, sleepy suburban town. My daughter tells me that in Chicago, a local kosher grocery just steps from her home had its window smashed; and days ago, friends suffered from hate crimes in Brooklyn, N.Y. For a while already, there has been a proliferation of open acts of anti-Semitism—acts that make your hair stand on end—in European cities, where many are afraid to openly dress as Jews. The climate of fright is all around us.

And yet, yesterday there was also a dedication for a new Torah to a shul just down the street from the stabbing, with a strong police presence, as throngs of Jews united to celebrate. Last night, the last night of Chanukah, as the menorah was fully lit, with all eight candles shining brightly against the dark outdoors, my teenage daughter’s class had a Chanukah gathering in our home. My son returns today from helping a shliach bring the light of Chanukah to others, and my daughter and son-in-law just sent pictures of their many Chanukah activities as shluchim to the Bahamas. These things remind me that despite the horror, our Torah is eternal, and the Jewish people are here to stay and thrive, and transform the darkness of our world into a beautiful G‑dly home.

As I gazed last night into the menorah’s candles, praying for the safety of my family and Jews the world over, I prayed that the overpowering darkness will quickly be vanquished by these small but potent lights, and by the many powerful acts of kindness throughout our world—ushering in a time of light and goodness.

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.

4 Ways You and Your Relationships Resemble Oil

December 9, 2019 2:15 PM

Dear Readers,

In the grocery stores where I live at this time of year, olive oil is practically jumping off the shelves, to be used in so many savory dishes. Whether you make traditional latkes or spruce them up with healthier versions (broccoli or zucchini latkes, anyone?) or whether you enjoy homemade chocolate doughnuts filled with custard or a store-bought variety, oil is an essential component, used in our food to remember the small cruse of olive oil in the Temple that miraculously burned for eight days. We use the olive oil, too, to light the flames of our own menorahs as we commemorate the Chanukah miracle.

Jewish customs have profound depth and are not haphazard. A deeper look at the properties of olive oil teaches us about ourselves and our relationships.

  1. To make olive oil, you need to crush ripe olives to get the purest oil.
  2. Oil is notoriously hard to remove since it penetrates deeply into whatever it touches. (Be careful not to spill any on your clothes!)
  3. Oil naturally keeps to itself and separates from other liquids. (If you’ve ever made a salad dressing with oil, you’ll know how hard it is to keep it mixed.)
  4. Oil always rises to the top, leaving the other liquids sinking below.

So how are we like oil?

  1. The mystics compare our soul to oil. It may take crushing circumstances for us to fully come in tune with the depths of our soul’s powers or calling.
  2. But when we do reveal that beautiful part within us, it can penetrate deeply and enrich whatever parts of our lives that it touches.
  3. The soul is always pristine. No matter what negativity we have been involved with, our soul remains a pure part of G‑d. No matter how badly we may have acted, we are still a child of G‑d able to shine our light, undiluted by any past experience.
  4. Allowing our soul to shine within us helps us to rise to the top to become the best person we can be, exposing our greatest potentials.

In our relationships with others, we are also like oil. How so?

  1. To forge a relationship and truly connect with another, we need to crush our ego and haughtiness, and open ourselves up to see the other’s perspective.
  2. When we no longer fear exposing our vulnerability, we can penetrate into another’s life and enrichen the lives we touch.
  3. To reach deep dimensions in relationships, we need to first be a wholesome individual. We cannot expect others to complete us or create our happiness if we haven’t worked on developing our inner selves.
  4. The strength of another is far greater than the sum total of two individuals. When we develop positive, heathy relationships, we can rise to the top, reaching beyond our limitations.

Wishing you a very Happy Chanukah!

Enjoy your delicious dishes and coming in tune with your deepest self!

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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