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Your Worth Is Not Based on a Number!

August 26, 2018

Dear Readers,

I met a woman who told me that her daughter attends an elite school where academics reign supreme. Her daughter studies excessively and considers herself a failure if she achieves a grade below 90 percent.

I was shocked to learn that her daughter was only in sixth grade! Apparently, the road to success starts young. Only those at the top of their class are guaranteed entry to the best high schools, where the stakes became even greater for acceptance at the best universities.

Too often, if feels like we designate and rank people based on numbers or letters. What’s your earning power—can you boast a six- or seven-digit salary? Do you live in a McMansion with seven, eight or more bathrooms? What’s your IQ? What’s your SAT score? What’s your net worth? How many Likes or Friends do you have on social media? What’s your BMI and weight?

Do we judge people and define their worth as human beings based on how they rank in these many areas?

We are now in the month of Elul. Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi, the Alter Rebbe, employs a parable to illustrate how G‑d is especially near us during this month. To have an audience with a king, in the royal palace, requires the admission of a hierarchy of dignitaries. But every once in a while, the king goes out to the field to see his subjects, where he converses with them and addresses their needs.

When the king enters the field, the field equalizes everyone. Everyone is empowered and permitted to greet him. All partitions that usually separate him from the populace—status, power, money are nullified.

Similarly, during Elul, “G‑d is in the field.” Though G‑d is always accessible, during this month G‑d comes to us, and it is our chance to seek Him in a more open and personal way. Irrespective of what we have or have not achieved in the last year—or how we compare to the guy or girl next door—it’s our opportunity to focus on strengthening and developing our personal and intimate relationship with G‑d.

This week marks the 18th of Elul, the chai or “life” of the month. This day is the birthday of the Baal Shem Tov and the Alter Rebbe—revolutionary pioneers who spread the teachings of Jewish mysticism. These spiritual giants taught that we are all children of G‑d, who loves us more than the love of a parent to an only child. No matter where we are on the spiritual rung, societal hierarchy or any other ranking, each of us possesses a Divine spark. Every individual—no matter how simple or learned, no matter our lineage, state of observance, talents or net worth—is completely bond to G‑d, whose love for us is infinite and unconditional.

We are here in this world to grow, improve and connect to G‑d. Our shortcomings do not define us; rather, they give us reason to celebrate our efforts in coming closer to G‑d and revealing our Divine spark.

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.

G-d Doesn’t Expect You to Be Perfect!

August 19, 2018

Dear Readers,

If you’ve been following this column, you know that we recently moved into a brand-new house. Everything—from the appliances, to the freshly painted walls, to the wood-stained floors—is new.

At first, it took some getting used to. I couldn’t readily remember in which cabinet I had stored my spices, my morning coffee or my favorite sweater. I knew though that in time, I would become familiar with my surroundings. Still, it was all so exciting—cooking on a perfectly clean, unused cooktop, and learning how to use the gadgets on my new washing machine.

Firsts are exciting. Like the first day of school, the first day after a newborn is home or the first day after the wedding. Everything is new, special and … still just about perfect.

But eventually, the freshness wears off. The baby begins to cry incessantly throughout the night, the new school uniform begins to get creased and frayed, and you and your spouse have your first big fight.

So, too, one of the drawbacks of living in our new home was that we noticed immediately when something became scratched, dented or nicked. Almost as soon as the movers left, we could already see the effects of our furniture, pushed or moved over ever so slightly, on our wood floors, or the small scratches on the walls. Small dents or scuffs began to appear—no matter how careful we tried to be—and were more noticeable because of the newness.

But surprisingly, with those newly acquired small scratches, there was also a sense of relief. The novelty was wearing off slightly. This was no longer a “brand-new house” to look at; it was now being lived in. It was becoming our personal home and sanctuary, where we would create memories.

Real life isn’t about being perfect. Real life can be messy. It is full of mistakes and mishaps and spills and breakages. It is about things and, more importantly, feelings, becoming tarnished or stained, smeared and discolored. Human beings aren’t perfect. We aren’t meant to live perfect lives, but we are meant to keep reaching higher, to fall down and still have the courage to keep getting up.

And that is what is so beautiful about the month we are in.

Elul is an opportune time of forgiveness. It is a time or introspection, evaluating where we are and how we can be. Teshuvah means returning—returning to the true, pure self that never changes. It’s not a time of beating ourselves up for our failures, but one of realizing the constraints of our humanness and coming to terms with our falls, our dents and our scratches, and nevertheless making the effort to clean ourselves off, get up again and try harder.

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.

How Clutter Impacts Your Life

August 5, 2018

Dear Readers,

Not too long ago, we moved. Cardboard boxes are still strewn around my home, waiting to be opened and for their contents to find a permanent place.

Before I moved, I came face to face with all the STUFF I own—and all the STUFF that I really didn’t need.

I had a mound of office supplies in case one day I would desperately need a folder (or a dozen!). There was the almost-empty cartridge of printing toner, just in case I ran out and desperately needed to print something immediately (even if it will come out blurry!). And, of course, there’s all the old clothes I haven’t worn in years but am hoping will fit again, or the special sentimental wedding gown I wore to my child’s wedding that I couldn’t part with, even though I know I won’t wear it again.

Endless amounts of books, photos, furniture, dishes or toys that we really didn’t need. According to the National Association of Professional Organizers, Americans collectively waste nine million hours a day searching for misplaced items.

The Pareto Principle, or the 80/20 rule claims that roughly 80 percent of the results come from 20 percent of the causes. Look into your closet, and you’ll notice that you probably wear 20 percent of your clothes about 80 percent of the time. Kids play with about 20 percent of their toys 80 percent of the time.

What this means is that we’re keeping 80 percent of our stuff on the chance that it will be used occasionally, and we can likely do away with most of it.

But here’s the thing about having so much unnecessary stuff. It’s not just about finding where to store it and remembering where you put it. Having things we don’t need takes away from what we do need by diluting our focus.

It’s like eating junk food. When we fill our stomachs with empty caloric food, we may feel full, but we’re really not. We’re missing out on the healthy nutritious food that our bodies would be craving, but are too full to even realize it.

Or it’s like our daily schedule. When we fill our day with things that just numb our mind, passing the time, we may feel like our days are full because our moments are occupied and our minds not restless, but that isn’t the case. Those spiritual or meaningful pursuits that our soul craves are suppressed by the many busy activities filling our day.

We are about to begin the final month of the year before the Jewish New Year. The month of Elul is a time of introspection, a time of looking back at what we have accomplished and considering new directions. Now’s the time to take stock of our things, our time, our consumption and our priorities.

Now’s the time to re-evaluate our schedules and consider which 20 percent we should be focusing on that truly makes a difference.

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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