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When My House Was Covered in Dust

March 29, 2015

Dear reader,

Wow, YOU did it!

This Friday night, after weeks of preparation and anticipation, we’ll be sitting down for the much-anticipated Seder beginning the Passover holiday.

Over the last couple of months, in my own home, we’ve been renovating our basement. Our goal was to have it ready for our guests for Passover. New walls were put up and the cement floor was broken to accommodate underground plumbing pipes.

I would never have guessed how much dirt and dust breaking up concrete generates.

Though all the work was in our basement and though we kept all the doors tightly closed, as if with a will of its own, the dust rose constantly. No matter how much I cleaned, dusted and mopped, for as long as the workers toiled in our basement, the thick layer of dust reappeared.

Minute by minute, it traveled throughout the entire house. To every surface. From the depths of the basement, it even traveled to the far reaches of our bedrooms, situated upstairs on the second floor.

Bookcases. Shelves. Dressers. Nothing big or small was spared. Every tiny niche and corner was covered with the stuff.

And as I prepare for Passover, all that dust in every corner of my home kind of reminds me of all the plagues covering every square inch of Egypt. A dusting of lice. Enveloping darkness. Frogs in every corner, even jumping into the ovens. No clear water, just liquid saturated with blood.

It also reminds me of the comprehensive Passover cleaning to eradicate every bit of leaven. This year, in our home, it was easy to see which part was cleaned, with the before-and-after clearly demarcated by the grayish-white film.

But it also reminds me of the many parts of our lives that get so covered and saturated with “dust”—unimportant, unwanted stuff that none of us need that creates a thin, dim film covering everything and preventing us from seeing to the true value or essence.

As we work on the physical cleaning, hopefully we’re also doing our spiritual work to rid our homes and characters from leaven, symbolizing layers of selfishness and self-inflating egos clouding our vision and perspective. Let's resolve to “pass over” some areas of our lives—those trivial areas that perhaps we have given more import than they are worth, and that consume us more than they should.

So Passover is about “passing over” and freeing ourselves from negative, unimportant things that hold us down, while reaching up and leaping—“passing over”—a drop higher.

Wishing us all a wonderful, happy and kosher Passover holiday, one in which each of us succeeds to lift our part of the world just a little bit higher.

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.

What Are You Up To in Your Passover Preparations?

March 22, 2015

Dear reader,

The countdown has begun. There’s about two weeks left until the Passover holiday begins.

Supermarkets in major Jewish cities are in a frenzy. Shelves have been cleared of cakes and snacks, and are now covered with shelving paper and stacks of kosher-for-Passover holiday foods. Incredibly, the day after Passover, none of these expensive products will be worth their wrapping. But for now, consumers can’t get enough.

For the last while, too, I’ve been catching intense snippets of conversations from other Jewish women I bump into. Sometimes their conversation centers on new Passover recipes, other times it’s about the cupboards in their homes that still need to be cleaned, and yet other times it’s about where they will be spending the Seders.

Passover is the most celebrated Jewish holiday. It’s the holiday when we became G‑d’s chosen people. G‑d tangibly conveyed His love for us in that crucial first year as a nation.

On that first Passover in Egypt, we had not yet received the Torah with its many commandments. We had not yet accepted any of G‑d’s rules or laws, or the covenant as His chosen people. Nor had we become a light unto all the nations, who would teach morality and goodness in every country where we would eventually sojourn.

But on Passover, in our youthful years as a nation, just as our self-image was being forged, G‑d wanted to convey His infinite love for us. Not because of our dedication, self-sacrifice or commitment, but—just as we do with our own young children—just because we were His.

Perhaps that is why, of all the many Jewish holidays, the one that is most observed is Passover. For it represents G‑d’s love and connection to us that is timeless, unchanging and unconditional.

This innate love and self-worth has helped us to survive and thrive throughout all the centuries until today, amidst growth and prosperity, as well as suffering and persecutions.

So, on this special holiday when G‑d showed his unconditional love, let’s reach out to someone who may be alone, and invite him or her to celebrate our nationhood together.

And, as the clock ticks, tell me, what are you up to in your Passover preparations? Have you tried any new recipes? Where will you be spending the Seders?

I’d love to hear!

Chana Weisberg,
Editor, TJW

P.S. Our hearts go out to the Sassoon family upon the tragic loss of their seven children, killed by a fire that tore through their Brooklyn home. In these hectic days before Passover, let's take a moment to hug our children more tightly, say Psalms for the surviving mother and sister who are in critical condition, and do an extra good deed in merit of these precious souls.

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.

To Be or To Do—That Is the Question

March 8, 2015

Dear reader,

In the art of Japanese flower arrangements, space is left around each of the flowers, in order to properly appreciate the beauty of every flower. The empty space is considered just as important as each flower to achieve the overall effect.

Our lives are often so cluttered with so much “doing”, we tend to forget the need for the empty space of “being”. We live in a time when many of us feel obsessed with work, whether we actually work outside the home or not, whether we work out of necessity or choice.

What role should “doing” play in our life? And as a society are we just far too obsessed with work?

This week’s Torah portion teaches us about a special day of the week when we close our cell phones and computer screens, and focus on an entirely different dimension of reality: “being.” The Shabbat reminds us to put our work life in its proper priority. It helps us to understand too that though we need to exert effort, ultimately our work is only a means and a channel for divine blessing and sustenance.

In our three dimensional world there are six directions: North-South; East-West; Up-Down. The Kabbalists compare these six directions to the six days of the week when we are in an outward bound, masculine mode of doing and mastering creation.

But there is a seventh dimension: the dot inside that holds all the six different directions in their place, without which the others would not be. This resembles the feminine Shabbat, and the feminine mode of being. The Shabbat is considered the source of blessing for the coming week and enables us to absorb all our blessings from the week.

So here are some ideas to think about this week: When you meet someone, how do you define yourself, by what you do or by who you are? What does “being” versus “doing” mean to you? And, how do you get in touch with “being”?

Wishing you a wonderful week, and a good balance between doing and being.

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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