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Life Lessons

Four Stories to Help You Judge More Favorably
Judging ourselves in a favorable way comes naturally; it is extending the benefit of the doubt to others that is a challenge.
The Far-Reaching Effects of My Husband's Mysterious Choice
Sometimes divine providence comes in the form of chicken wraps. Read the extraordinary story here.
I Am No Longer That Abandoned Orphan
We need help from others, and being an adult is learning when and how to ask for it.
When Guilt and Judgement Become a Blessing
There is no way that my challenge is a punishment or cruel. This is an opportunity to reach my atah—“my essence,” the part of me that remembers what it is like to be bound up with the Essence of life.
A Teenager’s Letter to G-d: ‘Goodbye to Us’
I did my best to build a fortress. I lined my steps with desensitization, boarded up my front door with sins and shuttered the windows with raw hate.
When You Can Be Grateful for a Power Outage
We sit on the porch steps—the night birds singing, the sounds of the cicadas punctuating the air.
What the Talking Doll From America Taught Me About Envy
Becky was nonchalant about her social standing and popularity. At 6 years old, she was accustomed to receiving it.
The Mean Voice Inside Me
Eventually, I grew tired of playing the martyr and blaming Him. I started to wonder if the pain I blamed on heaven was coming from within.
The Rebbe and the Little Girl With a Cast
What mattered to me was my broken arm. And at that moment, that was all that mattered to the Rebbe as well.
A Forgotten Wallet, a Free Chicken … and Gratitude
As the cashier began processing my items, I reached into my purse to retrieve a credit card. Instead, I realized at that moment that my wallet was not there.
Wanting Love and Approval, and Learning I Didn’t Need It
I was grateful I got to love myself and them and every precious moment of our time together, instead of just needing them to like me.
Stop and Smell the Dandelions …
When My Dear Avocado Tree Was Cut Back
Little do we know that what seems really difficult is actually G‑d’s way of making us stronger.
On Turning 70 and Missed Opportunities
More important than wondering “What if?” about the past is asking, “What now?
The DMV Tester Who Empowered Me to Succeed
We need to face our challenges head on with faith. When we are scared, it’s because our faith has weakened.
A Tale of Two Tragedies ... and a Response
While one situation is shockingly newsworthy (and apparently, one is not), death is death. And when death comes crashing down in a sudden unforeseen moment, it should be shocking.
Braiding Challah and Learning Torah in the Rebbetzin’s Kitchen in Japan
The rebbetzin made herself available to me, despite having not a free second for herself.
I Chose Shabbat Over a Rocket Launch
We had committed time and money to this event, yet we would have to miss it because driving to watch the launch on Shabbat was not an option.
I Thought I Made the Mistake of My Life. Then I Went Swimming
Swimming daily meant I was no longer invisible—that there were witnesses to my life, however small it was. If I didn’t show up, there were women who noticed and would call to find out how I was. People cared, more than I cared for myself. I owed it to them to make an effort.
In a World Torn Apart, Our Jewish Roots Bind Us
I don’t feel a connection with just any American I meet, but I do feel one with another Jew, regardless of where they come from.
‘Live for Them All’: A Survivor Shares Her Story
Can you imagine what it was like to meet my savior all those decades later?
My First Taharah: Preparing a Jewish Body for Burial
As I rounded the corner on 50, mortality wasn’t a far-off abstract notion that had little to do with me. My mom was struggling with dementia and decline. I had lost some close friends. So when my friend Tamar asked if I might be willing to try this practice out, I gulped and hesitantly said “yes.”
Taking G-d With Me on a Fishing Trip (and Throughout My Day)
I am working on taking Him with me wherever I go and to make Him relevant in every part of my life, even the mundane parts.
A Young Man, a Sick Wife and a Wise Rabbi
“I need a rabbi! Help me! I need a rabbi right now!!” The shocking, ear-splitting cry shattered the stillness in the synagogue.
Turning Pain Into Promise
When things feel desperate and intellect can no longer save us, we go beyond what we know.
When ‘Reader’s Digest’ Proved the Existence of G-d
“Rabbi,” the man said, scowling. “You have 10 minutes to prove to me that there is a G‑d.”
My Grandfather’s Legacy: How an Educator Impacts His Students Decades Later
I asked him how it was that two brothers from the same home turned out so differently. He replied, ‘It’s very simple. I had Rabbi Schochet as my teacher in junior high, my brother did not.’ ”
The Need to Hit the Refresh Button Every Night
How fortunate we are that G-d, in his abounding kindness, wove the institution of nightly sleep into the fabric of our daily lives!
The Day My Best Friend Called Me a ‘Dirty Jew’
Most of our neighbors knew each other, even though hundreds of people occupied one building. They also all knew that my family was Jewish.
Be the Good That Someone Else Needs
The ability to see past our own troubles, challenges, and hard days and reach out to another in need is truly exemplary.
What Mikhail Gorbachev Taught Me When I Asked for His Autograph
Every single event, factor and statistical analysis with absolute certainty would predict my future to be the exact opposite of what it is today.
Free Will and My Uneaten Banana in the Soviet Union
I somehow knew that my inner worth was much more significant than the treat that was offered.
Finding Gratitude in the Supermarket, Even When the Shelves Were Empty
I sighed again and was on the verge of complaining to my daughter when I looked over at the the man picking through the soggy cucumbers right by me.
What My Pets Taught Me About G-d
Sometimes, when we are abused by life and the world, we fail to turn to the One who is always ready to be our comfort and protection, our sunlit island when everything looks bleak.
6 Crucial Life Lessons I Learned While Tubing Downriver
Life is like a ride downstream, and we are all on a journey together. Family, friends, strangers.
The Rabbi Who Raked Leaves for His Ill Wife
My friend turned to her father as they raked and asked, “This is a huge job. Why are we doing this? Do you really think this will even make a difference in the way Mom feels?”
Broken Wings? We All Have Them
Lessons From a Caterpillar’s Transformation
I couldn’t help but think of people who have broken wings.
How the Pittsburgh Attack Got Me to Share That I Am Jewish
It was the Monday morning right after the Pittsburgh synagogue attack, and I had not yet determined if and how I would approach the topic with my public school sixth-grade class.
Remember to Say ‘I Love You,’ Before It’s Too Late
For survivors of the sudden death of a spouse or family member, they wished they had a chance to say good-bye or say “I love you” one last time.
She Melted My Heart and Got a Ride Home
Standing at the counter was an elderly lady who immediately drew my attention. Within a somewhat fragile physique, she exuded light and strength. I smiled to her while noticing her shock of white hair, clear blue eyes and gentle smile, and then I said hello.
How I Learned to Cry Again
Cynicism tip-toed its way into my life, a soft pitter patter so quiet that I didn’t realize it was coming until it was already standing at my shoulder.
Beltani: How I Made Peace With My Imperfect Life
As women, we have incredible demands placed upon us, and a significant number of people in our lives who rely on us to be strong, to hold things together for them. There is often an invisible pressure that is not seen but felt—to be the perfect version of ourselves, to never let anyone see that things are not, in fact, as perfect as we try to project out to the world.
We Should All Be More Thankful
One day I was in a store and saw one of the mothers of our day-camp clientele. I thought to myself, “She really should come up to me and thank me for the years that I hosted her children in my house. In fact, why didn’t she ever call me in all these years to thank me for watching her daughters?”
Pack Lighter and Take What Truly Matters
Will the collection that I’ve amassed in the chamber warrant my entry into the banquet hall? Am I living my life as though I’m a traveler passing through?
When I told Sandra who I was and that I was calling to confirm our Shabbat-dinner date, her voice sounded choked, her words almost indistinguishable. Suddenly, the floodgates opened, and I heard unmistakable sobbing on the other end of the phone.
Today Was a Very Hard Day . . . or Was It?
It's all in the perspective
Today, G‑d sent me one of those days where I had an opportunity to strengthen my spiritual muscles.
Recognizing G-d Along the Way (Road Bumps Notwithstanding)
One of the tires, while appearing fine superficially, was actually almost completely peeled off.
The Guiding Lights of a Positive Life
Lost . . .I could have been lost, completely lost, with no clue how to get home.
How I Dealt With My Anxiety Over Hosting
I’m an excellent cook, but everybody has their off-days, especially when making a huge amount of food.