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

The One Day That You Can Uncover Who You Really Are

September 17, 2019 4:06 PM

Dear Readers,

If you had to strip away all the outer layers of yourself, what would be left? What remains at the core of your being when you remove social mores, other people’s reflections of you and even your own view of yourself? Take away your talents and attributes, where you work or what you accomplish in your day, who you have relationships with and associate with—and what is left?

Stop and think about that for a minute. Picture the deep-down real you.

It’s the you that is not well-heeled; a you that is not masked by cosmetics; a you that is not dining or well-fed; a you that is even independent of your most important relationships—just YOU.

The Torah describes the holiday of Yom Kippur as achat bashana, a holy event that happens “once a year.” This phrase can also be literally translated as “the one of the year.” The Chassidic masters explain that Yom Kippur is the day that our intrinsic core breaks through the multiple surface layers that separate and define our lives on the year’s other days. It brings out the core of who we really are, without all outer definitions.

And what is at that core?

At the core of our being is a goodness—a goodness that is ever-present. On the deepest level of our being is our soul, which has a quintessential bond with G‑d, the source of all goodness.

This bond is immutable and can never be disconnected, whether we choose to access it or act upon it or not. It is a bond that is independent of our abilities, talents and choices.

So often we forget who we are at our essence. We become distressed by what others think of us or preoccupied with negative perceptions of ourselves. We berate ourselves for all the things we are “not.” But every year, on one day, achas bashana, we can tap into that underlying oneness and remind ourselves of our actual potential.

And perhaps the laws of the day are meant to help us strip ourselves of all outer accoutrements and come in tune with that inner self. Stripped of food and drink, conjugal relationships, leather shoes, cosmetics or creams—not even washing ourselves—we face our true selves. Bare of any outer masks and alone from our most important relationships, we focus inward. We spend our day meditating in prayer so we are able to draw strength from what lies beneath.

Yom Kippur is a day once a year that empowers us to reach deep within ourselves and realize who we really are, and rediscover the depths of our connection—our oneness—with G‑d.

Wishing you an easy fast and an uplifting Yom Kippur!

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 Is G-d Our Father and Our King?

The Avinu Malkeinu Prayer

September 9, 2019 11:48 AM

Dear Readers,

One of my favorite prayers sung on Rosh Hashanah (as well as on specific times during the year, like on public fasts days and during the 10 days of repentance) is Avinu Malkeinu, where we repeatedly request blessings and salvation from G‑d, as our Father and our King.


Both the king and parent paradigms are genuine and powerful. Yet they move in opposite directions. A monarch establishes a definite distance and authority over his subject. Parental love, on the other hand, is characterized by attachment and closeness.

During our prayers, we merge the two paradigms of G‑d as king and parent.

Prayer is a paradoxical activity. On the one hand, a basic element of prayer is acknowledging all of the undeserved goodness that our King has showered upon us—articulating our thanks and appreciation for it. We acknowledge G‑d’s ultimate goodness and that whatever happens to us must be good.

At the same time, the commandment to pray is to express our spiritual and material needs and wants. Anytime we feel that something is amiss in our lives, we are commanded to ask G‑d to correct those things.

Yet if everything originates from our generous King—who is the ultimate goodness and who knows far better than us what is good for us—how can we ask Him to “change” His plan? How can we “demand” more goodness from our benevolent King while realizing how unworthy we are?

Because prayer is G‑d allowing us to not only relate to G‑d as a transcendental king on a spiritual level, but also as an imminent, caring parent. Prayer is G‑d saying, “Show Me how things look from your viewpoint, from within your world.” It allows us not to bypass our inner emotions, wants, fears, needs and insecurities, but to focus on them, put them in perspective and validate them.

At the same time that G‑d as our king decrees Divine law, we beseech G‑d as our parent who is always present, ministering to and facilitating for us. Nothing—not the material aspect of our world, nor our physical natures—can sever the unshakable bond between a parent and child. Prayer is realizing that our Creator’s love will shake the very fabric of our world to bring us fulfillment.

From this deep place, we see our Creator not as a foreign, faraway Being who is only concerned with the spiritual growth of His subjects, but rather as a loving Parent who intimately relates to us on our level and with our wants. G‑d, as a parent, shares in our pain and cries together with us, holding our hand in darkness and distress.

On Rosh Hashanah, as we coronate G‑d as our King, we connect with G‑d’s innermost desire to forge a connection with us—as our Father first, and then our King.

May our Father answer all our prayers for the good in this coming year!

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