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You Don’t Need Money to Spread Kindness

July 29, 2018

Dear Readers,

Do you know what really amazes me? There are some individuals who, no matter their circumstances, just seem to find ways of giving and doing kindness for others.

When we were commissioning a moving company to transport our belongings to our new home one state over, the owner came over to evaluate and provide a quote. At that time, he told me some relevant information about packing. He also shared with me the number of a woman in our community who volunteers to help pack up people’s kitchens.

The woman, Lonny, has become an expert on packing up dishes, fragile glassware and all things kitchen-related. “She is retired and has free time,” he explained, “and she does an amazing job. I have never had anything in her boxes break on me.”

Lonny does this without charging, as her personal chesed, act of kindness. And what a kindness it is! Imagine the help she provides to frazzled mothers of young children who really can use the extra hand during such a stressful time.

I look around, and I am astounded to see so many other nondescript people who have found ways to use their time, talents or resources to help others and spread kindness.

A few blocks from my home, a family set up a small tent in their front yard with a table inside, a few chairs and a case of cold water bottles. A sign above the bottles encourages people who are walking to shul on Shabbat in the heat of the summer to rest and take a drink (of course, free of charge). Another home on a busy street just set up a bench on their lawn for those who need to relax for a few moments.

There is a classified section in our local newsletter offering free rentals of a variety of items—from colored tablecloths for special occasions to wheelchairs for elderly visitors. There are people who donate an hour a week to visit the sick or homebound, or who organize used clothes for recycling. Some people dedicate their acts of kindness or free rentals in the merit of a member of their family—sometimes, a young child, who sadly passed away.

Most of them don’t have extra financial means. Some are in challenging situations themselves, but rather than wallow in their own misery, they have found a way to reach out and give to others. And by giving, they, too, feel happier.

No matter our circumstances, no matter how rich or poor we may be, no matter how talented or gifted we are, we each have something to give and share. It could be a smile, a word of wisdom—packing someone’s dishes—or using something extra in our home to share and spread kindness.

Is there something that you would like to do to spread kindness?

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.

Watching a Child’s Chemotherapy Treatments

July 8, 2018

Dear Readers,

Seemingly out of nowhere, my friend’s teenage daughter was diagnosed with cancer. Thank G‑d, her cancer is treatable, and her prognosis for the future appears bright. Nevertheless, she has to undergo months and months of chemotherapy treatment, a complex operation and then further chemotherapy to ensure that no cancer cells remain in her body.

For the last many months, my friend has spent most of her days in the cancer ward. She describes how hard it is to watch her child experience so much pain and illness, such physical and emotional suffering.

The chemotherapy protocol is brutal, her daughter has lost all her lovely locks of hair, and she has become terribly weak. “The cancer is treatable,” my friend makes an attempt at humor, “unless the chemo kills her first!”

My friend and her husband take turns sitting at their daughter’s bedside. They watch with mixed emotions as the chemo concoction slowly drips intravenously into their daughter’s body. A part of them wants to pull it out, knowing that this poison will wreak such havoc. Of course, they also know that it is lifesaving.


The Talmud teaches us that “there are four things whose creation G‑d regrets every day. The first is galut, exile.” (Sukkah 52b)

What does it mean that G‑d “regrets” something? And how can something exist if G‑d regrets it? G‑d, as our Creator, is constantly re-creating us at every moment. Should G‑d not wish for something to exist, He does not need to “destroy” it, but merely no longer will it into being and stop providing the Creative force that vitalizes it. (Imagine a balloon—for as long as you blow, it swells, but the moment you stop blowing, the balloon regresses to a mere small piece of rubber.)

When we regret something, it means we desired it at one point, but then no longer do (in the present tense). Applying the term “regret” to G‑d, who is beyond time, conceptually means that G‑d desires some aspect of exile and yet also does not desire it.

G‑d desires the positive ramifications of exile—the amazing strength, fortitude, faith and kindness that emerges from the depths of the Jewish soul after being challenged to the limit. And yet, He also abhors exile—the pain, suffering, cries and tears that it causes us, His precious children.

Until there is a new medical breakthrough, my friend has no choice but to subject her daughter to the ravages of the chemo treatments in order to save her life. On the other hand, G‑d is infinite and has the ability of achieving the benefits even without the pain. Moreover, we’ve been in exile far too long! May all the benefits we have accomplished in exile finally suffice to end our suffering, and may we finally experience how it heralds the final redemption—when all sickness and sorrow will be erased from the face of this earth.

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.

Displaced in My Own Home

July 1, 2018

Dear Readers,

Right now, I’m surrounded by boxes and feel like I could almost drown in them. My house looks like a disaster zone. Chairs and tables are lined up against the walls. My pretty decorative elements, the beautiful wall art and photographs of my loved ones, are long gone, packed away. Nothing is in its right place.

With just a short time until our move, our home is in total disarray, as we pack up the last several years of our lives into cardboard boxes. Our new home, while beautiful, is still unadorned. Its rooms await our furniture and tchatchkas--our touches, small and big, to transform it from an impersonal house into our home.

And so, right now, I feel like I am displaced. Living in a home that soon will no longer be mine, it already feels like it is not mine. And as I visit my bare new home, it, too, does not yet feel like home.

Though I am really excited about our move and feel so fortunate for the opportunities that await us in a wonderful new community, this temporary feeling of displacement can be jarring and disorienting.

Our nation understands this feeling of displacement. Exile is displacement, and we have experienced it for almost two thousand years!

To be displaced means to be shifted from where you belong, from where you should be, from where you are used to being, to a no-man’s land. It means feeling uprooted and disjointed. You live in a paradoxical situation where you are not here, nor there.

There have been times when exile meant terrible persecutions, wars and destructions. But sometimes, exile is more subtle; it means finding ourselves in a world where we are currently staying—where we may even have a roof over our heads and walls that protect us, even physical comforts and luxuries—but where we don’t really feel at home.

G‑dliness is hidden and our souls seek and yearn more cohesiveness, more spiritual connections. The result is suffering, fragmentation, challenges and confusion.

We have just begun the Three Weeks, an annual period of mourning that marks the destruction of our Temples and our ongoing exile.

A positive aspect of displacement is that the feeling is so uncomfortable that it provides the impetus to motivate us to create a more settling environment. The darkest exile, on the other hand, is when we don’t even recognize that we are in exile. Like a sickness that one doesn’t realize is wracking one’s body, nothing motivates you to create change and find healing.

And so, the Three Weeks period is a time for us to focus on exile—and how we each can contribute to its end. It is a time to figure out how each of us can add a little more G‑dliness to our world, to transform it into a comfortable, G‑dly home.

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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