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How to Become Your Greatest Advocate

Balak

July 17, 2016

Dear Reader,

Why is it that just as we are about to reach a long sought-after goal, we falter in those final moments?

Here’s one scenario:

You are about to enter a meeting to clinch this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. You’ve researched all the relevant information and every pertinent detail. You’ve given yourself pep talks; you stand tall and confident. But just as you take the last strides towards the conference room, your self-doubt rears its ugly voice and you begin to waver . . .

Here’s another one:

You’ve finally built up the courage to challenge the bully who has been tormenting you. You’ve been encouraged by your closest friends, and you’ve carefully rehearsed your speech. You know this confrontation is necessary and could establish a more balanced relationship. But just as you approach her, your courage wanes and you make an about face . . .

We first encounter Balak, when the Jewish people were at the threshold of the Promised Land. Just before entering, they were contested by their final enemy: Balak, the Moabite king. He had hired the gentile soothsayer, Baalam, to curse them, but each time Balaam opened his mouth, great blessings emerged.

The word balak means “cut off” or “dead” (Ohr Hatorah). It represents those times when we feel dejected or worthless, just as we are about to enter our personal “promised land” and accomplish a vital goal. We feel cut off from our true selves—from that aspect of our souls that provides us with the courage, inspiration, and motivation to complete our mission. We feel enveloped by a curse of negativity that taunts us and prevents us from actualizing our dreams.

In those moments of despair, we need to remember that, just as Balam’s curses were turned into the greatest blessings, so, too, can our negative mindset. We can be our own worst enemy or our best ally. We can choose whether to listen to this deadening doubt that cuts us off from our inner potential or to reconnect with our infinite G‑dly capabilities.

Balak, as it turned out, was actually the ancestor of Ruth, the Moabite convert who became the grandmother of King David and the progenitor of Moshiach. The soothsayer that he hired revealed the ultimate blessings that will occur in the Messianic era.

We can view our world as an accursed place of pain and corruption, or we can see beyond the veneer to view these evil episodes as merely futile attempts to cut us off from G‑d’s vision.

When you feel cut off from your potential, try to focus on your inner redemptive qualities. Transform your negative, accursed self-talk and become your greatest advocate to bring more goodness into your life and the world at large.

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.

The Moment a Stranger’s Child Became My Own

July 3, 2016

Dear Readers,

“Mommy! Mommy!” The frantic voice of a crying toddler could be heard in the large supermarket. “Mommy! Where are you?” His cries were becoming louder and more distressed.

At the tender sound of the word “Mommy,” my back tensed and my heart beat furiously. I desperately searched for the voice of the crying child. For that nanosecond I forgot that I no longer have any young children, and my body became physically stressed, thinking he was my own. I noticed other mothers, too, grasping their child’s hand tighter until the little boy was reunited with his mother.

For that short time, this child was every mother’s child. And when we view a stranger’s child as our own, we feel more than just compassion for him; we feel an actual bond that changes us.

There is a chasm between compassion and love. Compassion means I have sympathy, kindness or empathy for you. But there is me, and there is you. I am opening myself up to you; I have compassion for your plight, and I am willing to give of myself to alleviate your difficulty.

Love, on the other hand, means an inherent connection and a personal attachment. To truly love someone means to feel united with him. I am pained by your pain; your happiness is my happiness. There is no evaluation of worthiness or lack thereof. There are no stark boundaries.

This week is Gimmel Tammuz, the yahrtzeit of the Rebbe. From his first talk upon accepting the leadership of Chabad-Lubavitch in 1951, the Rebbe made the ideal of loving every Jew a cornerstone of his mission. He saw an unbreakable, three-pronged union between love of every Jew, love of G‑d and love of the Torah.

The Rebbe taught us how to look at another person. Not only to have compassion for him. Not just to try to “help” him or feel pained by his plight. But to feel united with him.

How can we achieve this level of love? By viewing the other person as ourselves—as our own child, sister or brother. As a real part of myself. And from this perspective, there are no labels or parameters; there is no judgment of good or bad. There is no concept of “another” type of Jew; every Jew is related to me, and is mine.

The Rebbe explained:

Instead of focusing on our personal “I,” we can highlight the G‑dly spark we possess, our true and most genuine self. And when a person’s G‑dly spark shines brightly, he is able to appreciate that a similar spark also burns within everyone. He can thus love another person as himself, because he and the other share a fundamental identity.

This week, in honor of the Rebbe’s yahrtzeit, let’s make an effort to increase acts of love in our world by seeing beyond our differences and finding the divine core that unites us all.

Wishing you a very loving 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.
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