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Praying for Peace

February 27, 2022 8:22 PM

Dear Reader,

As a child, I remember hearing about a far-away place, called Kyiv.

My mother was born in the city of Kyiv during the Communist Soviet regime. In the summer of 1946, as a young teenager, she and her family fled to freedom.

Many of the cities that are now in the news, are not just names to her. She vividly remembers these places. She remembers, too, the hardship of living as an observant Jew and the peril it entailed. Till today, she vividly recalls her terrifying escape, and her long path forward until she and my father finally settled in Toronto as emissaries of the Rebbe, over 60 years ago, dedicating their lives to helping others Jews.

I grew up hearing her stories and hearing about what life looked like in this faraway place, in another era of Jewish history. I learned to appreciate how different my life looked from hers, and how easy it was for me to live as a Jew.

Ukraine has completely changed over the years and is now home to over 350,000 Jews with a thriving Jewish infrastructure that includes synagogues, mikvahs, Jewish schools, and social services organizations. Thirty-five cities throughout the Ukraine are served by 200 Chabad-Lubavitch emissary families.

Last week, as bombs began to drop and an all-out war broke out in the Ukraine, these emissaries made the heroic choice to remain with their communities, providing much-needed material aid, encouragement, and most importantly, spiritual strength and support.

And right now, the Jews of the Ukraine need us! To donate to the Ukraine relief fund, click here.

No matter where we live, or what our financial means, we can all make a difference. Since the entire world is an organic whole, we are all connected. Our words, thoughts and actions have cosmic effect, and can have an effect half-way across the world.

Let’s pray for the safety of our Jewish brethren in Ukraine along with all people in the affected areas. May they have the strength and resources to make it through this trying time. Let’s pray for a peaceful resolution to this conflict, and that we experience the time when “nations will beat their swords into plowshares … and not learn war anymore.”

Say a few heartfelt chapters of Psalms (especially Chapter 20).

Put a few coins into a charity box for a worthy cause. Resolve to light Shabbat candles before sunset on Friday afternoon, to bring down much needed light into our world. Do an act of kindness to increase goodness in our world.

May G‑d protect our Jewish brothers and sisters and anyone in harm’s way.

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.

Vayakhel: Look Out For Those Pegs!

Vayakhel-Pekudei

February 19, 2022 8:58 PM

Dear Friends,

Susan notices changes in her son.

Lately, his words and expressions are different, coarser to her ear. His mode of dress, too, has altered. It is not a major transformation, but a few small things with which he has “updated” his wardrobe. His moods, too, have become so volatile. He claims to be happy with his new group of friends, but intuitively Susan questions whether he’s being true to himself.

Susan wonders if she should be concerned. Maybe she is overreacting.

But a nagging voice inside her conjectures that perhaps these small changes are a warning signal portending something more significant…

In the Torah readings of Vayak’hel and Pekudei, Moses conveyed G‑d’s instruction regarding the making of the Tabernacle. A team of “wise-hearted” artisans were called upon to make the Tabernacle and its furnishings.

And those who are wise in heart among you shall come and make all that G‑d commanded. . . . The tabernacle, its tent and its cover . . . The ark and its poles . . . The table . . . The menorah for light . . . And the pegs of the tabernacle and the pegs of the courtyard and their ropes . . .” (Exodus 35:10–18)

Regarding the last item cited above, Rashi explains:

The Pegs: These were driven into the ground and tied to the ends of the tapestries, so that the tapestries would not be blown by the wind.

The pegs were a sort of copper nails, made for the tapestries that served as the tent-covering of the Tabernacle and the cloth walls of the courtyard, to hold these in place so that the wind would not blow them to and fro. Like all the other major utensils of the Tabernacle, these pegs needed to be made by those who were “wise of heart.”

Understandably, the main components of the Tabernacle—the tapestries themselves, the ark, the altar, and so forth—needed to be made by artisans who would proficiently design these utensils according to G‑d’s will, permeating their work with a suitable holiness. But why was it necessary for the “pegs” and “ropes”—seemingly extraneous minutiae—to be made by those who were wise of heart?

Every individual is a “tabernacle,” a holy edifice, replete with potential for housing G‑d’s will. In helping to “construct” our children, we cannot simply impart knowledge or teach skills; we must also build personality and develop character.

Imparting values is accomplished through the major as well as minor details of our children’s lives. Even small, extraneous issues that may seem insignificant—like the pegs and ropes of the Tabernacle—must not be overlooked, but must be dealt with, with patience, perseverance, and wisdom of the heart.

The outside “winds” of foreign values can be alluring. These fiercely blowing winds can uproot the values we work so hard to instill. Our role as parents is to make sure that even the pegs and ropes are implanted firmly, so that the walls and tapestries do not blow in the wind, and that our children do not become swept down a deviant path.

It may begin with a small thing—such as a “peg” that is out of place—a minor facet of his character development, or a trivial variance in his behavior. Is your child displaying a sad, downcast mood that doesn’t seem to pass? Has he made a stinging remark that is out of character? Is she suffering from a loss of appetite? Has she changed her mode of dress to fit in with a group?

Taking care of the details of our child’s life means not neglecting the little “pegs” grounding his values. Making our children cognizant of these finer points—and knowing how to step in at the appropriate moments with the necessary guidance and sensitivity—requires someone who is truly wise of heart.

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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