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April 20, 2014 / 20 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Chana Weisberg’

A Far Reaching Whisper

Wednesday, October 14th, 2009

             My talk was called “Divine Whispers.” I would be sharing an array of stories, weaving them together to create a message of how even in the “ordinary” events of our lives, we can find a “divine whisper”-a lesson specially scripted for us. The talk was the highlight of a lovely afternoon and evening program arranged by Chabad emissary Chana Alta Mangel in Blue Ash, Ohio. The food, decor, workshops and program, like Chana Alta herself, were fabulous, offering a perfect balance of beautiful physical and spiritual nourishment.

 

As the crowd enters the spacious main synagogue, I am sitting at one of the color coordinated round tables.  “Esther” walks in and asks to sit next to me. As she’ll tell me by the end of the evening, she had no idea that I was the speaker or the writer whom she eagerly reads, but just thought that I might want someone to chat with.

 

And chat we did…

 

Esther’s eyes shine with pride as she tells me that her daughter, a thirty-two year old beautiful woman, lives in California. She is highly successful, independent and living a fulfilled life.

 

“The problem began,” at this point Esther’s voice is lowered into almost a whisper, “when this wonderful daughter met a man whom she planned to marry-and he wasn’t Jewish.


“Chana, I was so torn,” Esther’s eyes mist over. “On the one hand she is my daughter, whom I love unconditionally. I couldn’t break our relationship. How could I just become estranged from her, and at such a time in her life?

 

“Of course, my daughter couldn’t fathom why I was against this relationship, one that she saw as ensuring her future happiness. But on the other hand, I just knew…Chana, I knew it intuitively that this was something that I absolutely could not go through.

 

“How could I attend this wedding? How could I be a part of it?

 

“And yet…how could I not?”

 

Even now, as Esther recounts her story, the tension that was tearing at her is apparent.


“My husband, on the other hand…” Esther continues, “He is a self-professed atheist. He’s an intellectual and he claims he doesn’t believe in any religion.”

 

At this point, Esther diverts to confide to me, almost in parenthesis, “Chana, any time I attend a class on Judaism, I really have to listen. The moment I get home, my husband questions everything that I learned. And how he questions! But let me tell you, though he’s an atheist, he says the Shema Yisrael prayer with me every night. And on Chanukah, when I lit the candles, I saw tears in his eyes. What an atheist, huh?” She winks.

 

Esther now brings her husband into her continuing narrative, “So, of course when my daughter was about to marry this non-Jewish man, my husband didn’t protest. It was only me. It was such a terribly lonely and confusing time for me.” Esther pauses to regain her equilibrium, fighting her strong emotions.

 

“One part of me even thought of taking my life. I didn’t feel I had a choice,” she says defensively. “I couldn’t attend the wedding and I also couldn’t not attend. So, at the time, it seemed like the only option.” She pauses as she recalls those terrible feelings.

 

“The wedding was several weeks off. I was becoming more and more desperate by the day.

 

“And then it was Yom Kippur night. I was sitting in the synagogue and more and more people were arriving for the Kol Nidrei services. I don’t know what gave me the courage, but I marched right up to our rabbi and I ordered, ‘Rabbi, I know you have a lot of things on your head right now. But listen to me. My daughter plans to marry a non-Jew in a few weeks and you’ve just got to pray for her tonight during the services.’

 

“And I too prayed with all my heart.

 

“I returned home after services, still shaken from my emotional experience. Shortly after, my daughter calls. She immediately tells me, ‘Mom, about my upcoming wedding…Well, the plans have been pushed off…indefinitely.’

 

“Her words were music to my ears.

 

“My daughter is still looking to find her soul mate. But now she is dating Jewish men.” Esther smiles as she concludes her tale.

 

And then, as an afterthought, Esther looks at me expectantly. “Chana, tell me, what do you think? Was that a divine whisper on that Kol Nidrei night?”


 


Chana Weisberg is the author of several books, including Divine Whispers-Stories that Speak to the Heart and Soul and Tending the Garden: The Unique Gifts of the Jewish Woman. She is an international inspirational lecturer on a wide array of topics and an editor at chabad.org. She can be reached at chanaw@gmail.com.

When You Mess Up

Wednesday, May 27th, 2009

Ever wonder what might have happened had the first Adam reacted differently?

 

I don’t mean if Adam hadn’t have eaten the forbidden fruit. I believe that somehow, on some level, that was a necessary component to our being human. We’re not meant to be perfect angels, or mechanical robots, always following directions explicitly, and always doing the right thing. Temptation and failings, challenges and adventure are meant to be a part of our human journey.

 

But suppose Adam would have responded differently after he ate the fruit.

 

Suppose when G‑d confronted him about not obeying His explicit and only commandment, Adam would contritely have said, “Oh, my gosh! You know, you’re so right! I can’t believe that I did that.

 

“Here you gave me everything I could ever need or want on a silver platter and the only one thing You ask me not to do, I go ahead and do.

 

“I am so sorry. You must be so disappointed in me. Please, let me make that up to You, dear G‑d. Please forgive me my insensitivity, selfishness and lack of care.”

 

I know it is hypothetical, but how do you think G‑d would have responded? It is kind of hard to admonish, punish, or even be angry with someone who so humbly and profusely apologizes for his misdeed.

 

I imagine G‑d would have said something like this, “Yes, Adam, you really did disappoint me. What you did was terribly wrong and you didn’t live up to your true potential. But since you realize your mistake and feel so regretful about it, I hope that you’ve learned your lesson. You have earned my forgiveness.”

 

Imagine how different human history would have turned out!

 

But instead, after eating of the forbidden fruit, Adam hides from G‑d, as if G‑d wouldn’t realize what he had done.

 

Then when G‑d calls to Adam, giving him an opportunity to express his regret, he messes up by lying, “I heard you calling and I was afraid because I am naked.”

 

And finally, in his fait accompli, when G‑d rebukes him point blank about his sin, rather than owning up to it, Adam blames someone else for his actions – “the woman that You gave me,” it was all her fault.

 

Fast-forward thousands of years.

 

“My dear spouse, stop ignoring me. We need to talk!”

 

“Honey, I’m not avoiding you I just had a lot on my head these last few days. And besides, I thought you were really angry, so I was afraid to speak with you. I thought I’d let you cool off first.”

 

“You know that what you did was so insensitive! How could you humiliate me like that? Don’t you care about my feelings? If there’s one thing that I’ve asked you so many times not to do, it is that!”

 

“It’s not true. I didn’t or at least, I didn’t mean to embarrass you. You are totally taking it the wrong way…

 

“In fact, come to think of it, you are always blaming me for things that go wrong….

 

“And besides, you could have made sure that you prepared me for this situation better. You really should have had more foresight ”

 

As humans, we will make mistakes. We will be tempted. We will succumb to our shortcomings and, inevitably, there will be times when we will fail.

 

But how will we react to those failings? Hiding, denial and blaming someone else – or is there perhaps a better way?

Chana Weisberg is the author of several books, including Divine Whispers-Stories that Speak to the Heart and Soul and Tending the Garden: The Unique Gifts of the Jewish Woman. She is an international inspirational lecturer on a wide array of topics and an editor at chabad.org. She can be reached at chanaw@gmail.com. Watch Chana Weisberg’s two-minute videocast on www.chabad.org/intouch for your dose of weekly inspiration.

When You Mess Up

Wednesday, May 27th, 2009


Ever wonder what might have happened had the first Adam reacted differently?

 

I don’t mean if Adam hadn’t have eaten the forbidden fruit. I believe that somehow, on some level, that was a necessary component to our being human. We’re not meant to be perfect angels, or mechanical robots, always following directions explicitly, and always doing the right thing. Temptation and failings, challenges and adventure are meant to be a part of our human journey.

 

But suppose Adam would have responded differently after he ate the fruit.

 

Suppose when G‑d confronted him about not obeying His explicit and only commandment, Adam would contritely have said, “Oh, my gosh! You know, you’re so right! I can’t believe that I did that.

 

“Here you gave me everything I could ever need or want on a silver platter and the only one thing You ask me not to do, I go ahead and do.

 

“I am so sorry. You must be so disappointed in me. Please, let me make that up to You, dear G‑d. Please forgive me my insensitivity, selfishness and lack of care.”

 

I know it is hypothetical, but how do you think G‑d would have responded? It is kind of hard to admonish, punish, or even be angry with someone who so humbly and profusely apologizes for his misdeed.

 

I imagine G‑d would have said something like this, “Yes, Adam, you really did disappoint me. What you did was terribly wrong and you didn’t live up to your true potential. But since you realize your mistake and feel so regretful about it, I hope that you’ve learned your lesson. You have earned my forgiveness.”

 

Imagine how different human history would have turned out!

 

But instead, after eating of the forbidden fruit, Adam hides from G‑d, as if G‑d wouldn’t realize what he had done.

 

Then when G‑d calls to Adam, giving him an opportunity to express his regret, he messes up by lying, “I heard you calling and I was afraid because I am naked.”

 

And finally, in his fait accompli, when G‑d rebukes him point blank about his sin, rather than owning up to it, Adam blames someone else for his actions – “the woman that You gave me,” it was all her fault.

 

Fast-forward thousands of years.

 

“My dear spouse, stop ignoring me. We need to talk!”

 

“Honey, I’m not avoiding you I just had a lot on my head these last few days. And besides, I thought you were really angry, so I was afraid to speak with you. I thought I’d let you cool off first.”

 

“You know that what you did was so insensitive! How could you humiliate me like that? Don’t you care about my feelings? If there’s one thing that I’ve asked you so many times not to do, it is that!”

 

“It’s not true. I didn’t or at least, I didn’t mean to embarrass you. You are totally taking it the wrong way…

 

“In fact, come to think of it, you are always blaming me for things that go wrong….

 

“And besides, you could have made sure that you prepared me for this situation better. You really should have had more foresight “

 

As humans, we will make mistakes. We will be tempted. We will succumb to our shortcomings and, inevitably, there will be times when we will fail.

 

But how will we react to those failings? Hiding, denial and blaming someone else – or is there perhaps a better way?


Chana Weisberg is the author of several books, including Divine Whispers-Stories that Speak to the Heart and Soul and Tending the Garden: The Unique Gifts of the Jewish Woman. She is an international inspirational lecturer on a wide array of topics and an editor at chabad.org. She can be reached at chanaw@gmail.com. Watch Chana Weisberg’s two-minute videocast on www.chabad.org/intouch for your dose of weekly inspiration.

Does G-d Like Playing Games with Us?

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009

She rolls the dice. Her face is serious, concentrating on the outcome.

She smiles. She has rolled a winning number. She moves her piece along the cardboard game board and looks to me for approval. She is satisfied with her turn. I smile back at her. How I love to see her so proud.

She rolls again. This time she is able to knock off one of my pieces and advance her own. Her eyes light up and she giggles freely. I feign disappointment, making her laughter even louder.

She is winning the game. She is delighted.

It’s my turn to roll the dice. Now I can knock off one of her pieces. She is still unaware of this impending danger. I too pretend not to notice. We both contentedly continue our play.

She rolls once again. Her brow is furrowed, she looks anxious. It is a decisive round. The results are not in her favor. I authoritatively explain since the dice bounced off the board, the throw wasn’t valid. (Well, it kind of did.) She accepts my verdict gladly and rolls again. This time she scores a better number. We both smile as she teases me that she will win.

I try to follow the rules of the game. I know that, for her own benefit, I need to teach her how to graciously accept a setback. But with each roll of the dice, with each card that she uncovers, with each turn that she takes, I am inwardly holding my breath, secretly longing for her victory. I want her to smile, to giggle, and to feel good about herself.

Yet I also understand that I can’t completely break the rules of the game. For her own good.

So only when she’s not looking, only when I’m sure that she won’t notice my subterfuge, I make sure to give her an advantage in the game. Because I love her smile. Her carefree laughter. Her delight in her victories.

Because it hurts me more than anything to see her sad, to feel the heaviness of her defeat, to see her eyes downcast when she realizes that she has fallen short of winning. Because this means so much to her.

So my four year old and I continue our game. And as we play, and enjoy one another’s company, I think of You playing the game of life with each of us.

Do You, too, secretly throw in some moves that will help our victory? Do You overlook some ill-fated turns to help us get further ahead in reaching our objectives?

I know we’re not playing against You, but at times when we’re really down, it can feel like You or the forces that You created are, on some level, out to get us, holding us back from what we want so dearly. Are You really just rooting for us all along?

Do You follow the rules of our world, to help us grow as individuals? But also, do you keep bending the rules–at least somewhat–to make our play easier? To help us taste accomplishment?

Do You also feel so sad when You see Your children fall? When You see us disappointed or downcast, just short of our long-hoped for goals? Do you exult in our triumphs?

“I’ve won!” my little daughter announces happily as she throws the last dice to her victory.

“Yes, you have.” I revel in her victory while pretending disappointment.

Little does she realize that her success is truly ours; that my joy is even greater than her own.

Chana Weisberg is the author of several books, including Divine Whispers-Stories that Speak to the Heart and Soul and Tending the Garden: The Unique Gifts of the Jewish Woman.She is an international inspirational lecturer on a wide array of topics and an editor at chabad.org. She can be reached at chanaw@gmail.com. Watch Chana Weisberg’s two-minute videocast on www.chabad.org/intouch for your dose of weekly inspiration.

Does G-d Like Playing Games with Us?

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009

She rolls the dice. Her face is serious, concentrating on the outcome.


She smiles. She has rolled a winning number. She moves her piece along the cardboard game board and looks to me for approval. She is satisfied with her turn. I smile back at her. How I love to see her so proud.


She rolls again. This time she is able to knock off one of my pieces and advance her own. Her eyes light up and she giggles freely. I feign disappointment, making her laughter even louder.


She is winning the game. She is delighted.


It’s my turn to roll the dice. Now I can knock off one of her pieces. She is still unaware of this impending danger. I too pretend not to notice. We both contentedly continue our play.


She rolls once again. Her brow is furrowed, she looks anxious. It is a decisive round. The results are not in her favor. I authoritatively explain since the dice bounced off the board, the throw wasn’t valid. (Well, it kind of did.) She accepts my verdict gladly and rolls again. This time she scores a better number. We both smile as she teases me that she will win.


I try to follow the rules of the game. I know that, for her own benefit, I need to teach her how to graciously accept a setback. But with each roll of the dice, with each card that she uncovers, with each turn that she takes, I am inwardly holding my breath, secretly longing for her victory. I want her to smile, to giggle, and to feel good about herself.


Yet I also understand that I can’t completely break the rules of the game. For her own good.


So only when she’s not looking, only when I’m sure that she won’t notice my subterfuge, I make sure to give her an advantage in the game. Because I love her smile. Her carefree laughter. Her delight in her victories.


Because it hurts me more than anything to see her sad, to feel the heaviness of her defeat, to see her eyes downcast when she realizes that she has fallen short of winning. Because this means so much to her.


So my four year old and I continue our game. And as we play, and enjoy one another’s company, I think of You playing the game of life with each of us.


Do You, too, secretly throw in some moves that will help our victory? Do You overlook some ill-fated turns to help us get further ahead in reaching our objectives?


I know we’re not playing against You, but at times when we’re really down, it can feel like You or the forces that You created are, on some level, out to get us, holding us back from what we want so dearly. Are You really just rooting for us all along?


Do You follow the rules of our world, to help us grow as individuals? But also, do you keep bending the rules–at least somewhat–to make our play easier? To help us taste accomplishment?


Do You also feel so sad when You see Your children fall? When You see us disappointed or downcast, just short of our long-hoped for goals? Do you exult in our triumphs?


“I’ve won!” my little daughter announces happily as she throws the last dice to her victory.


“Yes, you have.” I revel in her victory while pretending disappointment.


Little does she realize that her success is truly ours; that my joy is even greater than her own.


Chana Weisberg is the author of several books, including Divine Whispers-Stories that Speak to the Heart and Soul and Tending the Garden: The Unique Gifts of the Jewish Woman.She is an international inspirational lecturer on a wide array of topics and an editor at chabad.org. She can be reached at chanaw@gmail.com. Watch Chana Weisberg’s two-minute videocast on www.chabad.org/intouch for your dose of weekly inspiration.

Can You Teach Self-Worth?

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

She doesn’t just walk; she practically glides along, with a light-hearted bounce. Her laughter is infectious, her giggle ever-present, even during the dull periods of the day. Every moment is an opportunity, a learning experience. Her world is a wonder to discover and she feels proud of even her smallest achievements.


 


She is my 4-year-old daughter, soon to be turning five. She’s at the age where she’s already developed a unique personality. She has gained sufficient understanding and maturity to reciprocate in our relationship. But she is still young enough that the heaviness of life’s issues has not yet begun to haunt her. Her joie de vivre is still intuitive, natural and spontaneous.


 


And yet, as I eagerly greet her smiling face every morning, I am keenly aware that now and in the immediate years to come – in her young childhood – her self-image is being formed. Every interaction, every exchange will forge an essential impression on her emerging psyche.


 


Like a delicate seedling in its tender years of maturation, she is now developing an awareness of herself and her place in this world. And with a sudden heaviness, I realize what an integral role I play in her feelings of self-value, and in whether her lightness and brightness will be enhanced or be diminished.


 


So, along with wanting to teach her so many things, so many skills, and so much knowledge about the world around her, more than anything, I want to teach her about herself. Foremost, I want to give her the precious gift of self-love – an inherent love, not because of anything she knows or does, but because of who she is, a creation of G‑d.


 


In these formative years, I want to teach her that her mistakes don’t detract from her value. That she can grow and learn -  and should use these opportunities as an impetus for greater good – but she should never allow failures to chip away at her inner core, her cheer or her confidence.


 


I want to teach her that her accomplishments, talents, great personality and charisma are some of her winning attributes, but that her self-worth is not dependent on these or on how others view her. She is unique, unlike anyone else in the entire world. She has a mission that she, and only she, can accomplish.


 


And I want to imbue her with the feeling that my love for her is unconditional. Not because she is adorable, capable, bright or sweet, which she is. But just because she is mine. My daughter, forever and for all times.


 


These are formidable values that I want to impart. And yet, it is in these crucial, youthful years that she will develop this innate awareness of who she is.


 


Passover is the holiday when we became G‑d’s chosen people. In those crucial, first years as a nation, G‑d tangibly conveyed His love for us. We had no mitzvot, nor any merits and we didn’t deserve to be redeemed. Yet, G‑d showed us unconditional love that was not dependent on our spiritual strengths, talents or stamina.


 


He chose us not because of what we would accomplish in the years and millennia to come.


 


Not because we would accept His covenant, His rules, and His laws.


 


Not because of our dedication, self-sacrifice or commitment.


 


Not because we were to become a light unto all the nations and teach morality and goodness in every country where we would sojourn.


 


There are many other Jewish holidays when we commemorate, celebrate and rejoice in these particular aspects of our relationship and development as G‑d’s chosen nation.


But on Passover, in our youthful years as a nation, just as our self-image was being forged, G‑d wanted to convey to us His infinite love for us. Just because we are His.


 


Perhaps that is why, of all the many Jewish holidays, the one that is most observed – even by those who profess to be “unobservant” – is Passover and the Passover Seder.


 


For it represents G‑d’s love and connection to us that is timeless, unchanging and unconditional.


 


A love that is ever-present, irrespective of what we do. But simply because of who we are – His chosen one.


 


This innate love and self-worth has helped us to survive and thrive as a nation, throughout all of our years of growth and prosperity, and even times of suffering and difficulty – until today.


 


Watch Chana Weisberg’s two-minute videocast on www.chabad.org/intouch for your dose of weekly inspiration. Chana Weisberg is the author of several books, including Divine Whispers – Stories that Speak to the Heart and Soul and Tending the Garden: The Unique Gifts of the Jewish Woman.She is an international inspirational lecturer on a wide array of topics and an editor at chabad.org. She can be reached at chanaw@gmail.com.

The Little Flame

Wednesday, December 17th, 2008

Once upon a time, there was a little flame that glowed brightly.

Wherever this little flame went, it brought light and luminosity.

Even in the absolute black darkness, the flame twinkled and illuminated.

But wherever it went, there were also those who didn’t like its radiance. And wanted to snuff it out.

There was the wind that wanted to blow it out…

The sand that wanted to stomp it out…

The water that wanted to drown it…

And the darkness that wanted to blacken it.

But the stubborn flame refused to be extinguished.

Sometimes, the flame itself wished for its end. It yearned to be as dim as the surrounding blackness.

The little flame would doubt its beautiful glow and question its unique sparkle.

During those moments, the flame would flicker and its sparkle seemed like it would fade into obscurity.

But no matter what, something inside the flame kept it shining.

Some called it stubbornness.

Others saw it as luck. Or − perhaps, fate.

While others, predicted its demise, a few recognized it as the greatest miracle ever.

Chanukah is the Festival of Light. We light our Menorahs to commemorate the miracle of the flames that refused to be extinguished. There was barely enough oil for one day, but the flames burned proudly for eight.

But Chanukah also commemorates the miracle of the Jewish people; a nation that refused − and continues to refuse − to be smothered into oblivion, because the little flame continues to shine light into the dark world around it.

Watch Chana Weisberg’s two-minute videocast on www.chabad.org/intouchfor your dose of weekly inspiration. Chana Weisberg is the author of several books, including Divine Whispers − Stories that Speak to the Heart and Soul and Tending the Garden: The Unique Gifts of the Jewish Woman. She is an international inspirational lecturer on a wide array of topics and an editor at chabad.org. She can be reached at cweisberg@chabad.org.

The Little Flame

Wednesday, December 17th, 2008

Once upon a time, there was a little flame that glowed brightly.


Wherever this little flame went, it brought light and luminosity.


Even in the absolute black darkness, the flame twinkled and illuminated.


But wherever it went, there were also those who didn’t like its radiance. And wanted to snuff it out.


There was the wind that wanted to blow it out…


The sand that wanted to stomp it out…


The water that wanted to drown it…


And the darkness that wanted to blacken it.


But the stubborn flame refused to be extinguished.


Sometimes, the flame itself wished for its end. It yearned to be as dim as the surrounding blackness.


The little flame would doubt its beautiful glow and question its unique sparkle.


During those moments, the flame would flicker and its sparkle seemed like it would fade into obscurity.


But no matter what, something inside the flame kept it shining.


Some called it stubbornness.


Others saw it as luck. Or − perhaps, fate.


While others, predicted its demise, a few recognized it as the greatest miracle ever.


Chanukah is the Festival of Light. We light our Menorahs to commemorate the miracle of the flames that refused to be extinguished. There was barely enough oil for one day, but the flames burned proudly for eight.


But Chanukah also commemorates the miracle of the Jewish people; a nation that refused − and continues to refuse − to be smothered into oblivion, because the little flame continues to shine light into the dark world around it.


Watch Chana Weisberg’s two-minute videocast on www.chabad.org/intouchfor your dose of weekly inspiration. Chana Weisberg is the author of several books, including Divine Whispers − Stories that Speak to the Heart and Soul and Tending the Garden: The Unique Gifts of the Jewish Woman. She is an international inspirational lecturer on a wide array of topics and an editor at chabad.org. She can be reached at cweisberg@chabad.org.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/jewess-press/the-little-flame/2008/12/17/

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