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Why an Eighty-Year-Old Played Charades with an Eleven-Year-Old

May 17, 2015

Dear readers,

Several months ago my husband and I, along with our youngest daughter, visited Toronto to spend a beautiful Shabbat with my parents.

At the end of the Friday night meal, my father turned his attention to my daughter. My father is an incredibly knowledgeable rabbi and mentor who devotes his life to studying and teaching the wisdom of Torah. He engages in the most intricate, hairsplitting Talmudic discussions just as ably as he counsels people on knotty, complex life issues. Now, he was attempting to really bond with his granddaughter. My daughter, though an exceptionally mature and intelligent eleven-year-old, is more than seven decades younger than my father. I wondered how my father could succeed to forge a connection that would break through these barriers.

My father’s warm gray eyes twinkled and a smile appeared around his snow-white beard as he said to my daughter, “Let’s play charades. We’ll take turns,” he suggested to her eagerly. “You start. Think of a mitzvah, but don’t tell me. Act it out, without speaking. And let’s see if we can guess each other’s mitzvah.”

For the next several minutes, grandfather and granddaughter were busily engaged in their activity. My father energetically stood up to dramatically act out his mitzvah. My daughter flailed her arms and legs to act out hers. Through these performances, they mimed a wide range of mitzvot. There was lots of laughter in that room, and I’m not sure who enjoyed the activity most: my father, my daughter, or the rest of us watching.

My father had succeeded in bridging the gap. But more so, he succeeded to enter my daughter’s world and relate to her through something that they both cherished.


We are now days away from the holiday of Shavuot, when the Jewish people stood at the foot of Mt. Sinai, where G‑d asked us a favor: “Perform My mitzvot (commandments).”

At that moment, G‑d “entered” our world.

The very word mitzvah hints to the beauty of our relationship. Mitzvah shares a root with the word tzavta, which means “bond” or “attachment.” When we do a mitzvah, we become joined to the essence of G‑d, who has issued that command. G‑d allows His infinite wisdom to be distilled into a form accessible by finite creatures, breaking barriers and melding the two into a G‑dly and meaningful existence.

The gap between Creator and created is greater than anything we can fathom—infinitely greater than the disparity between a grandfather and his young granddaughter. Through mitzvot, though, we become expressions of G‑d’s will, just as our own hand which writes, stirs a ladle or plays notes of music expresses our will.

And watching my wise, elderly father playing charades with my eleven-year-old daughter, I think I got a tiny taste of what that looks like.

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.

Did You Know We Have a Facebook Page?

May 10, 2015

Dear readers,

Is the Internet something positive or negative? How about sleep? Sugar? Exercise? Work? Intimacy? Marijuana? Marriage? Divorce?

Nothing in life is simple. A thinking individual would respond with a healthy, noncommittal “it depends.”

Marriage can be great—to the right individual. Divorce can be necessary—in certain circumstances. Sugar can be good in moderation. Marijuana administered to ease pain can vastly improve the quality of life of an ill individual.

So, most things can be either positive or negative, depending on the circumstances and on how they are channeled.

We are approaching the special holiday of Shavuot, when we receive the Torah and “G‑d spoke all these words” (Shemot 20:1).

When “G‑d descended upon the mountain,” we were given the ability to join heaven with earth. Every individual was empowered to be G‑d’s agent to raise up our lowly, physical reality and make it holy and transcendental.

The communication that the Jewish people heard at Mount Sinai was unique in that it had no echo (Shemot Rabbah 28:5).

When a voice reaches a wall, it rebounds, producing an echo. But the Torah given at Mount Sinai was so powerful that it penetrated and permeated every person and every part of the universe.

Since there is no place where Torah is not applicable, the result was an echoless experience. There is no darkness that the Torah cannot illuminate; nothing can block it and cause it to bounce away.

“Everything that G‑d created in His world, He did not create but for His glory” (Ethics 6:11). Every creation can be used and channeled for a divine intent. We bring out the purpose of forbidden things—like non-kosher foods or relationships—by refraining from them. But most things (or forces) belong in the realm of the neutral, and we can reveal their essential reason for existence by directing them for a positive, G‑dly goal.

So, back to the original question—is the Internet positive or negative? Obviously, there’s lots of stuff on the Internet that we need to stay far away from. But it is also a force that can be harnessed for great positivity.

Here at www.TheJewishWoman.org, we try to unleash the Internet’s greatest power by using it to spread the Torah’s wisdom.

In this light, we’ve also recently updated and improved our Facebook page. I’d like to personally invite you to check out our Facebook page. Friend us! Comment on our articles! Like us and share our content with other women who would gain from the inspiration.

Because we believe that each and every one of us has the power of replicating that echoless experience, and bringing the wisdom of the Torah—unobstructed—to the four corners of the earth.

Please join us with our goal!

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.

Raise Your Hand if You’d Like to Change Something About Yourself

May 3, 2015

Dear reader,

I was teaching a group of young women, and I asked them to raise their hand if they loved themselves. All the hands eventually rose, but reluctantly.

I then asked them to raise their hand if they felt that they had any ugly faults or flaws that they would like to change. Surprisingly, the hands now all rose swiftly and unhesitatingly.

We could translate this as a lack of self-esteem in our youth, and particularly in our girls. But in the larger scheme, our world emerges as a place of conflict. In every waking moment, we are in a struggle.

We struggle with ourselves—to change those parts of our psyche that need improvement and betterment.

We also struggle with the world around us—to preserve a healthy view of ourselves and to protect our essential values and treasured beliefs. We struggle—and we fail and succeed—to carve out niches of time and space, to quell the challenges that rob us from living more serene lives, in tune with our true ourselves.

The first step in confronting our struggles—both within and without—is finding and releasing our inner core power. The potent spark of G‑dliness within us is our greatest weapon for finding the strength to wake up each morning and tackling whatever is holding us back.


This Thursday is Lag BaOmer, the 33rd day of the Omer, connecting Passover to Shavuot. This day marks the passing of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, the author of the Zohar, the most basic Kabbalistic work, and is considered the birthday of Jewish mysticism.

We celebrate Lag BaOmer in fields with children playing with bows and arrows, symbolizing that no rainbows appeared in the sky during Rabbi Shimon’s life. The rainbow represented G‑d’s covenant not to destroy the world again; Rabbi Shimon’s merit protected his entire generation.

On a deeper level, the bow and arrow symbolizes the power of inwardness—the power unleashed by the inner, mystical dimension of Torah.

An arrow must be pulled back toward one’s own heart in order to strike the heart of the opponent. The more it is drawn inward, the more distant an adversary it can reach.

The most powerful weapon we have to confront and conquer our fears, demons, foes and inadequacies is drawing our bow to ourselves: discovering and strengthening our inner essence, knowing who we are, and knowing why we are here.

Conquering even the most pervasive darkness begins by first lighting up the candle of our soul.

The mystical, inner dimension of Torah guides us to find, know and illuminate that infinitely powerful spark of G‑dliness within. From there we can unbridle the power to deal with any adversary.

And perhaps even transform our foes into friends.

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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