Enter your email address to get our weekly email with fresh, exciting and thoughtful content that will enrich your inbox and your life.
Let's Go For Coffee

Here’s One Time You Should NOT Think Positively

May 8, 2016

Dear Reader,

Optimism and positivity.

That’s the Torah’s approach to how we should view almost every circumstance. We try to see the glass as half-full, rather than half-empty.

Even during trying times, we highlight what we have rather than what is lacking, and all that we need to be grateful for, as opposed to focusing on our wants and needs.

On a psychological level, this is very beneficial. The more we emphasize our gratitude, the more positive we become as people. As I heard from one motivational instructor, “It’s not that happy people are thankful, it’s that thankful people are happy.”

But on a spiritual level, this approach is even more powerful. Positive thinking can actually change our reality in a majorly good way.

“Think good, and it will be good” is a popular Chassidic saying that means that positive thoughts create a positive reality. When we open the channels of our faith in G‑d by trusting Him to create a good outcome, we generate what we are hoping for. By believing that G‑d is infinite so He can provide for us in a way that we perceive as positive, G‑d reciprocates and directs that positive reality into our lives.

Even if things get so bad and we don’t see those positive outcomes—and we see no seed of goodness in our suffering—we assure ourselves with our faith. “All that G‑d does is ultimately for our own good” we tell ourselves, even if we can’t currently comprehend how that is so.

But there’s one time when this attitude just does not work. Moreover, not only is it not praiseworthy to be positive, it is actually downright destructive.

That is when it comes to others.

Never look at the suffering of another person and think, “Well, at least he has something good in his life to be grateful for.” Similarly, thoughts like “This was meant to be” or “All is for the good” is completely out of place when it comes to another person.

When you see someone suffering, it is downright cruel to think that this individual has been given a test in order to strengthen him or help her become a better person. Our job is not to philosophically come to terms with another’s pain, but to alleviate it.

So, the Torah’s approach is this: The next time you see someone suffering, drop the smugly righteous “It’s all good” mantra. Instead, roll up your sleeves and see what you can do to help.

Wishing us all an amazing week of helping others!

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.

Mind the Gap

May 1, 2016

Dear Readers,

One of the advantages of living in Southern New Jersey is the close proximity to several states along the Northeast Corridor. I’m just a few hours’ drive from so many vibrant cities.

And recently, I discovered a hassle-free and relaxing way of getting there—through the popular Amtrak train.

No need to rush through long lines of airport security or to navigate crowded highways. The train offers a relaxing trip, with free Wi-Fi, all the way from Boston in the north to Washington, D.C.

This past fall, I took a train to Rhode Island, and I was transfixed by the gorgeous scenery and changing colors of the foliage just outside my window. Recently, I traveled to Virginia, equally mesmerized as the train bolted past barren forests and deserted lakes in the dead of winter.

As I boarded, I noticed a sign that cautioned, “Watch the gap.” This sign is similar to the ones in London’s uber-efficient mass-transit system, the Underground. In England, mementos are readily available in tourist areas imprinted with the famous “Mind the Gap” slogan.

The Amtrak signs, like the London Underground, caution travelers to watch their step when boarding and leaving the train, and to carefully walk over the slight space between the train and platform.

Noticing these signs, I thought that as we travel through our own life’s journeys, we need caution specifically when we are going on a new path. When we comfortably travel in one direction, the gaps aren’t so obvious. It’s when we take a different track or when we leave one to examine another that we need to heed the gaps that can cause us to fall. As we embark and disembark, we are presented with new choices, each with potential slip-ups and possible falls.

On the Jewish calendar, we are now on a spiritual journey from Passover to Shavuot, a 49-day methodical process of self-refinement within the human psyche. Each week, we examine a new character trait that needs spiritual and emotional refinement. Each day within that week, we focus on all the different aspects of that trait. In our first week, for example, we tackle chesed (lovingkindness); in the second week, gevurah (discipline); and so on.

As we travel through each of the days of the week, we concentrate on refining this trait in our lives by exploring its parameters and boundaries. And as we begin our travels each week—as we venture to new directions in our quest for self-improvement—we need to mind the gaps and watch out for the possible stumbles in finding the proper expression of each trait.

It’s only in shifting directions and tackling new possibilities that we reach our ultimate destinations.

Wishing you a wonderful week!

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.
Recent Posts
Blog Archive