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September 23, 2014 / 28 Elul, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Chana Weisberg’

Life’s Detours

Wednesday, December 3rd, 2008

    A few years ago, we were headed back home from a family vacation in the Laurentian Mountains. After exulting in a tranquil week surrounded by the simple beauty of nature, away from the modern day pressures of cell phones, wi-fi and high speed connections, we were ready to plunge back into the onslaught of life, with renewed vigor.

 

    It was about a six-hour drive back and our van was loaded down and piled high on top with suitcases, bedding, a barbeque, a small refrigerator and of course a week’s worth of clothing for the entire family – and lots of food. We were a little over an hour away from our home in Toronto and I was already mentally planning out what would need to be taken care of the moment we returned. Our time away was wonderful, but now I was ready to jump back into our regular routine. School would be starting in another few days and there was so much to prepare.

 

    Just as I was thinking these thoughts driving along the highway, our van began slowing down and emitting strange sounds from under the hood. My stomach lurched, as I thought, No, not now! Just hold out another ninety minutes and we’ll be safely home!

 

But apparently our van had a mind of its own.

 

   The man, who towed us to the closest town, reassured me that there was a car repair shop only ten minutes away. Though it was late Sunday afternoon, we could still make it there before closing.

 

     I heaved a sigh of relief as I saw the garage still open and the mechanic intensely at work. I was even more relieved as he did a quick check on our van and told us that it was a minor issue which would not take him more than an hour to fix.

 

    But then he broke the news to us – he’d be happy to work on it first thing in the morning.

 

     “No,” I protested. “You just don’t understand ” I tried to reason with him that we have a car full of children how we needed to get back home how we couldn’t possibly unpack all our stuff how the baby wouldn’t sleep in a strange room how we needed him to fix our van now, not in the morning.

 

   But the mechanic insisted that he understood all too well. He, too, had children at home, eagerly waiting for their Daddy to get home after a long day of work to their special family dinner.

 

    My pleading, cajoling, bribing, guilt treatment and offering him a gift of lots of extra cash – and even calling his wife on his cell phone and attempting to convince her – were all to no avail. He was determined to leave and it seemed like we were destined to spend the night in this little town, just ninety minutes away from our own comfortable home.

 

We did our best to unpack just what we needed for the night, locked up our van and taxied over to the nearest motel.

 

     We spent a restless night crowded into a motel room and by early the next morning the mechanic called, just as he had promised, that our van was now in smooth working order.

 

     The entire evening and morning, I kept wondering why this was happening. Why, when we were so close to home, did something so small have to go wrong? Could there possibly be a lesson here?

 

It was only as were back on the highway, driving west again towards Toronto, that my husband mentioned to me what had happened to him that morning.

 

He had gone off to the park area behind our motel to pray the morning prayers in quiet solitude. As he stood wrapped in his tallit and crowned in his tefillin, a woman approached him and stood politely at his side.

 

“May I share your siddur (prayer book) with you?” the woman had requested.

And for the next several minutes the two stood side-by-side, reading page by page. It must have been a strange site – him a tall, bearded religious man wearing his prayer attire and, she, an older woman, dressed in casual pants and t-shirt.

 

As my husband and the woman concluded their prayers, the woman explained, “I am an Israeli, so of course, I speak and read Hebrew fluently. But it’s been over 20 years since I’ve recited the Shema prayer, or, for that matter, held a siddur in my hands. When I saw you, I knew I just had to pray. Thank you for providing me with this opportunity.”

 

*  *  *  *  *

 

There are times in life when we don’t know why events happen as they do. Most times, we are never given the opportunity to answer this perplexing question. But then there are those special times when we are given a glimpse into a higher reason for why we end up in a certain place and location.

 

And it is at those moments that we understand that our little detour in life is, in fact, exactly where we are meant to be.

 

           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 cweisberg@chabad.org

Get Me Out of Here!

Wednesday, November 19th, 2008

The black fly was steadily crawling up and down my kitchen window screen. It was desperately − but methodically − seeking an escape, to get beyond the imprisoning panel of the screen, into the wide, open world.


It could smell the refreshing air. It could sense the gust of cool wind blowing across its long transparent wings and short stubby legs. This taste of freedom motivated the industrious fly to continue its painstaking pursuit to reach into that thrilling liberty.


Watching the fly, I realized that unless I provide some assistance, I’d be hearing it buzzing in my ears and disturbing my sleep at night. So I pushed the screen wide open; its escape now made easily attainable.


“Go on, just fly a little to the left and you’ll be free,” I said aloud, as my four-year-old and I sat at our kitchen table, closely observing it.


Inexplicably, though, the fly continued its regimented climb, on the same thread of the screen. Unaware of the open gap, it persisted fruitlessly in its stubborn search for a small hole to make its exit.


I’m told that wild animals that have been confined for a long time react similarly when the lock on their cage is finally released. They continue their nervous, circular pace around the parameters of their prison home, before finally venturing through the open door into their sought after freedom.


And, if you think about it, human beings do the same thing.


How often have you tried to break out of an old and irritating habit or an unhealthy outlook, only to be held back, caged in by the parameters of your imprisoning addiction?


How often have you wished for the freedom of change? How often have you wished for a change in a negative pattern of thinking; a change in an automatic, emotionally triggered response; a change in your habits or routines; a change from the confining, “in your box” way of thinking or acting?


But, like the fly on my window screen, imprisoned by our routines, fenced in by our comfort zones, captured by the familiarity of what we know −  rather than what we’d like to be − most of us, too, are unable to take the plunge and experience the much dreamed-of exhilaration of reaching our uninhibited, full potential.


“An imprisoned individual cannot set himself free,” say our Sages.


In such situations, perhaps only the listening ear of a close friend or mentor can lend us the much needed courage, assistance and direction to forge into a better, emancipated reality.


Eventually, that fly did make its way out. But, it flew away only after my daughter and I repeatedly “pushed” it towards the open screen − and towards its freedom.


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 Souland 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.

Get Me Out of Here!

Wednesday, November 19th, 2008

The black fly was steadily crawling up and down my kitchen window screen. It was desperately − but methodically − seeking an escape, to get beyond the imprisoning panel of the screen, into the wide, open world.

It could smell the refreshing air. It could sense the gust of cool wind blowing across its long transparent wings and short stubby legs. This taste of freedom motivated the industrious fly to continue its painstaking pursuit to reach into that thrilling liberty.

Watching the fly, I realized that unless I provide some assistance, I’d be hearing it buzzing in my ears and disturbing my sleep at night. So I pushed the screen wide open; its escape now made easily attainable.

“Go on, just fly a little to the left and you’ll be free,” I said aloud, as my four-year-old and I sat at our kitchen table, closely observing it.

Inexplicably, though, the fly continued its regimented climb, on the same thread of the screen. Unaware of the open gap, it persisted fruitlessly in its stubborn search for a small hole to make its exit.

I’m told that wild animals that have been confined for a long time react similarly when the lock on their cage is finally released. They continue their nervous, circular pace around the parameters of their prison home, before finally venturing through the open door into their sought after freedom.

And, if you think about it, human beings do the same thing.

How often have you tried to break out of an old and irritating habit or an unhealthy outlook, only to be held back, caged in by the parameters of your imprisoning addiction?

How often have you wished for the freedom of change? How often have you wished for a change in a negative pattern of thinking; a change in an automatic, emotionally triggered response; a change in your habits or routines; a change from the confining, “in your box” way of thinking or acting?

But, like the fly on my window screen, imprisoned by our routines, fenced in by our comfort zones, captured by the familiarity of what we know −  rather than what we’d like to be − most of us, too, are unable to take the plunge and experience the much dreamed-of exhilaration of reaching our uninhibited, full potential.

“An imprisoned individual cannot set himself free,” say our Sages.

In such situations, perhaps only the listening ear of a close friend or mentor can lend us the much needed courage, assistance and direction to forge into a better, emancipated reality.

Eventually, that fly did make its way out. But, it flew away only after my daughter and I repeatedly “pushed” it towards the open screen − and towards its freedom.

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 Souland 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 Hardest Three Words to Say

Wednesday, October 29th, 2008

You and your spouse are driving along the highway. You begin to strongly suspect that you have missed your exit. The thought keeps nagging at you, and as more time elapses and the terrain is looking less and less familiar, the more certain you become. Yet as you begin to vociferously demand that your husband turn off the next exit, he stubbornly insists that you are headed in the right direction.


Fifteen minutes have passed. By now you both realize that you are driving on the wrong route. Yet instead of changing paths, your spouse is still hoping beyond hope that this will somehow bring you to your intended destination.


Why is he being so obstinate? Because turning around is admitting that he has made a mistake – and that’s probably the hardest thing for any human being to do.


We all have that highway scenario played out in our lives. We understand that we’re heading down the wrong path and we realize that the longer we continue, the more lost we will become. And yet we obstinately cling to our mistaken ways.


Why? Because it is so incredibly hard to admit that we’ve make a mistake.


You’ve had a disagreement with your spouse, child or coworker. It escalated to the point of ugly comments and incriminating remarks.


You know you were wrong. You know you crossed some red lines. You realize that you should never have brought his mother into the conversation, or that hapless remark he once said (and apologized for dozens of times) more than 10 years ago.


And yet you couldn’t stop yourself. As soon as you began your slippery slide into that nasty terrain of discord, there was no way to prevent plunging full force.


Now the heated moment is behind you. You know you ought to make amends, but every time it occurs to you to apologize, every fiber of your being rebels as your mind begins a full-scale line of defense. You may have been wrong, but he did say/do/act so inconsiderately. Thus, he should be apologizing!


Why remain in a bitter tug of war that is straining your relationship and distancing you further, when an apology could easily make things right? Because the hardest words to utter are, “I’m sorry, I made a mistake.”

 

Let me share a small incident. When I was traveling recently to the West Coast, a friend asked me to take a very important package to her son who was studying there. I readily agreed, packed it into my suitcase, took it along with me – and proceeded to forget all about it, schlepping it right back home with me. Only when I finally unpacked my suitcase upon my return did my heart drop, as I realized my error.


What to do now?


1.  My first reaction: ignore the whole mess-up and avoid the unpleasant ramifications. But her son really did need this package. It was bound to come to the fore, and wouldn’t she be even more upset that I didn’t inform her immediately?


2. Call her and defend myself, effectively freeing me of any guilt. Explain it this way: “Hey, it was nice enough of me to agree to schlep it in the first place.” Find some way of blaming her for not anticipating this by having her son call to remind me about the package.


3. Own up to my mistake and sincerely apologize for it.


The incident was minor enough with small enough at stake that I was able to take the latter path − and truly admit to how idiotic and silly I felt for being so absent-minded. The conversation could have taken a very different turn, but instead the more I carried on about how utterly sorry I felt, the more she reassured me, “You’re only human! Please stop blaming yourself.”


But it did teach me that the more we go against our initial and natural resistance, admit to our wrong and sincerely apologize for it, the softer and more appeasing our friends, spouses, children and coworkers become. On the other hand, the more defensive or blaming we become, the more the situation spirals out of control into a full-blown war.


With minor mistakes, it is easy enough for us to own up to our wrongs. The challenge, however, takes place when it happens in more sensitive areas or in more meaningful relationships – especially when there may be traces of emotional baggage and prior feelings of hurt, resentment, or anger.


I am sorry. Three short words. Three powerful words. Three words that can prevent us from plunging deeper down the wrong path. Will we allow our egos to get in the way of steering us toward this harder, but far more rewarding, path?


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. Watch Chana Weisberg’s two-minute videocast on www.chabad.org/intouchfor your dose of weekly inspiration. 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 Hardest Three Words to Say

Wednesday, October 29th, 2008

You and your spouse are driving along the highway. You begin to strongly suspect that you have missed your exit. The thought keeps nagging at you, and as more time elapses and the terrain is looking less and less familiar, the more certain you become. Yet as you begin to vociferously demand that your husband turn off the next exit, he stubbornly insists that you are headed in the right direction.

Fifteen minutes have passed. By now you both realize that you are driving on the wrong route. Yet instead of changing paths, your spouse is still hoping beyond hope that this will somehow bring you to your intended destination.

Why is he being so obstinate? Because turning around is admitting that he has made a mistake – and that’s probably the hardest thing for any human being to do.

We all have that highway scenario played out in our lives. We understand that we’re heading down the wrong path and we realize that the longer we continue, the more lost we will become. And yet we obstinately cling to our mistaken ways.

Why? Because it is so incredibly hard to admit that we’ve make a mistake.

You’ve had a disagreement with your spouse, child or coworker. It escalated to the point of ugly comments and incriminating remarks.

You know you were wrong. You know you crossed some red lines. You realize that you should never have brought his mother into the conversation, or that hapless remark he once said (and apologized for dozens of times) more than 10 years ago.

And yet you couldn’t stop yourself. As soon as you began your slippery slide into that nasty terrain of discord, there was no way to prevent plunging full force.

Now the heated moment is behind you. You know you ought to make amends, but every time it occurs to you to apologize, every fiber of your being rebels as your mind begins a full-scale line of defense. You may have been wrong, but he did say/do/act so inconsiderately. Thus, he should be apologizing!

Why remain in a bitter tug of war that is straining your relationship and distancing you further, when an apology could easily make things right? Because the hardest words to utter are, “I’m sorry, I made a mistake.”

 

Let me share a small incident. When I was traveling recently to the West Coast, a friend asked me to take a very important package to her son who was studying there. I readily agreed, packed it into my suitcase, took it along with me – and proceeded to forget all about it, schlepping it right back home with me. Only when I finally unpacked my suitcase upon my return did my heart drop, as I realized my error.

What to do now?

1.  My first reaction: ignore the whole mess-up and avoid the unpleasant ramifications. But her son really did need this package. It was bound to come to the fore, and wouldn’t she be even more upset that I didn’t inform her immediately?

2. Call her and defend myself, effectively freeing me of any guilt. Explain it this way: “Hey, it was nice enough of me to agree to schlep it in the first place.” Find some way of blaming her for not anticipating this by having her son call to remind me about the package.

3. Own up to my mistake and sincerely apologize for it.

The incident was minor enough with small enough at stake that I was able to take the latter path − and truly admit to how idiotic and silly I felt for being so absent-minded. The conversation could have taken a very different turn, but instead the more I carried on about how utterly sorry I felt, the more she reassured me, “You’re only human! Please stop blaming yourself.”

But it did teach me that the more we go against our initial and natural resistance, admit to our wrong and sincerely apologize for it, the softer and more appeasing our friends, spouses, children and coworkers become. On the other hand, the more defensive or blaming we become, the more the situation spirals out of control into a full-blown war.

With minor mistakes, it is easy enough for us to own up to our wrongs. The challenge, however, takes place when it happens in more sensitive areas or in more meaningful relationships – especially when there may be traces of emotional baggage and prior feelings of hurt, resentment, or anger.

I am sorry. Three short words. Three powerful words. Three words that can prevent us from plunging deeper down the wrong path. Will we allow our egos to get in the way of steering us toward this harder, but far more rewarding, path?

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. Watch Chana Weisberg’s two-minute videocast on www.chabad.org/intouchfor your dose of weekly inspiration. 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.

Do You Know Where Your Teenager Is? An Ode to All Teens

Wednesday, September 24th, 2008

Dedicated to my three teenagers

 

 

You’ve begun to work for a new company. During your first many weeks, you are learning the ropes, figuring out how to accomplish your assignments most efficiently. You are awed by the range of the company, overwhelmed by its many divisions and the extensive systems in place that execute its vision. You are the new kid on the block, and like a newborn you gaze with reverential wonder and worshipful submission at your surroundings.

And thenas time passes, you perceive a change within. You begin to notice inefficiencies in the hierarchy, leaks in the system, mistakes or lacks in the production line. You are no longer so new to the job that you are silenced by the higher-ups, but you are also not so entrenched in the company that you can’t see beyond the set infrastructure. You bring new blood and a fresh perspective that visualizes how and where change can be effective. You have ideas and foresight that can revolutionize the old, and the stale.


And soin your own way, you begin to make dents in the way things are done. At first, it is only on a small scale, but with growing courage, you begin to tackle issues company-wide. You suggest new projects and revolutionary proposals well beyond your jurisdiction. You want to inspire others to sail along with your dreams. What you lack in experience you are more than willing to make up in initiative, energy and exuberance.


And that’s when you hit against the inertia. You encounter it at every step of the way. There is resistance. There are raised eyebrows. There are the naysayers and there are the know-it-alls. For every two steps of progress, someone is forcing you to regress one.


And soondespite your convictions, you once again discern a change within. The criticism is having its effect. The sparkle of determination in your eyes has dimmed. You begin to wonder why you are expending so much effort. For the first time you hear yourself saying, “This isn’t my department” and “I can’t change the world.” You’ve settled down. You’ve begun to accept the status quo, the easy path − the one with less resistance. You stop tackling new undertakings. You’ve just entered into your complacent adulthood.


A baby enters this world. For his first many years, the child is discovering the wonder of his new world. He is awed by his environment and reverent of his elders who provide instruction, infrastructure and guidance. But, as time progresses, he becomes a teenager. That’s when he realizes that things aren’t functioning as perfectly as he originally believed. There are inconsistencies in the system, unfair hypocrisies, incongruities and distorted priorities. He wants change and what he knows he lacks in experience and wisdom, he’s ready to make up with his stamina, convictions, enthusiasm and energy.


 Then somewhere along the path to maturity, the teen encounters too many obstacles, too many naysayers, and too many people telling him to mind his own business and stop rebelling against what is. His inspiration becomes quashed; his initiative dies. To the outside eye, he may have “settled down” and outgrown his impractical idealism or youthful rebelliousness, but intuitively he knows he’s lost a part of himself.


The Lubavitcher Rebbe saw the years of teens as ones full of an unparalleled idealism and strength that just needed to be channelled appropriately:


The period of adolescence is nestled between childhood and adulthood. Teenagers are overflowing with adrenaline and confidence, feeling: “I want to change the way the world works.” Adults burdened by the pressures of everyday life, convince themselves that this is the way it is, but young people cannot tolerate such resignation.


Youth are rebellious. But rebellion is not a crime. It can be the healthiest thing for a human − an energy that inspires a person to not give up easily, to refuse to tolerate injustice, to not go along with an idea just because everyone else is thinking it.


Some of us retain our youthful drive our entire lives; others never experience it. No matter what our age, though, there is a “teenager” within each of us. In every situation that we find ourselves, we have the opportunity to find the positive aspects of our teenage perspective and harness its power. Bubbling within us is that youthful idealism–that ability to question the status quo, to fight for the underdog and to follow the dreams of our beliefs with undaunted courage and determination.


Let’s not follow the naysayers. Or become one.


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. Visit Chana’s blog “Let’s Go for Coffee” at www.chabad.org/618216. She can be reached at chanaw@gmail.com

Spiritual Security Blankets

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2008

This past week my youngest child turned four.

 

Though every age of a child’s development is special, to me, the age of four represents a unique transitional phase. At this stage, children leave behind their babyhood to become much more independent in actions and expressions, while still retaining their special childhood innocence.

 

Ever since she was a baby, my daughter has cherished various childhood comforts − like her plush, favorite blanket or her special pacifier.

 

But waking up on the morning of her fourth birthday, she proudly announced, “Today, I am four! I am really H-U-G-E now!” She proceeded to inform me that now she would no longer need any of her childhood securities.

 

Parents of young children know how emotionally attached they can become to these soft toys or blankets. According to studies, almost 60 percent of children have some security object and most psychologists consider them to be beneficial in children’s development. These comfort objects dispel a sense of anxiety and comfort them when they feel alone or scared. They are often used as “transitional objects” helping to provide a healthy relaxation of the bond between parent and child, encouraging the child to become more independent, adventurous and self-confident.

 

Some older children, though, have a hard time letting go of their childhood securities and treasure them well into adulthood. They don’t see these objects as transitional, but actually begin attributing essential powers to the comfort article itself. Rather than reminding them of the warmth of their home or the love of their parents, these objects become something that they rely on as a support. To them, these comfort objects are no longer a representation of security, but a crutch, making them more needy − something that they can’t fall asleep without hugging, or overcome a tense situation without tenderly embracing.

 

My daughter’s words on the morning of her fourth birthday, made me think about whether as adults perhaps we also hold on to some “spiritual security blankets.” These spiritual security blankets can sometimes be positive or empowering, but sometimes serve only as a crutch, where we neglect to see our deeds within their greater context and attribute unnecessary importance to the deed itself.

 

Take the daily ritual of prayer, for example. Prayer is meant to reinforce within us our bond to our Creator. It is meant to achieve a sense of comfort that whenever we are in need, whenever we are in pain or trouble, we can call out to our Parent, who always hears us and watches over us, with infinite love and goodness.

 

Yet, how often does prayer become a security blanket in a negative sense, where we no longer work on cultivating our connection to our Creator, but attribute significance to even words recited by rote, in a hurry, without any meaning or feeling?

 

While I’m not suggesting that the action of prayer itself has no merit, or that we should stop praying or doing any positive acts that lack the emotion. Each and every mitzvah performed, even without the proper intentions, is undoubtedly still positive and worthwhile.


But what I am suggesting is that when these rituals are done without thought or meaning, we’re losing out − we’ve got the body of the mitzvah, but without its soul and essence. Is it any surprise then that rather than finishing off our prayers with a renewed faith and assurance that G-d is watching us and doing what’s best for us, that the empty words leave us likewise feeling empty? Almost like eating a high caloric meal with little nutritious value, do the words give us a false sense of “fullness” while being spiritually non-nutritious? Have we just engaged in a holy, spiritual act, or an empty one that assuages our guilt and promotes a misplaced sense of spiritual connection?

 

Or take another very common example of our daily interactions with our loved ones, our spouses or our children. How often do we greet our children with mechanical endearing words but without really giving thought to the bonds of our relationship? We nod encouragingly to them as we automatically ask them about their day, or we give them a peck on their cheek as they run out the door in the morning, while our minds are busy with other “important” things. We might feel a comforting sense of connectedness, but do our words or actions give us a wrong sense of security − that we have fulfilled our obligations towards them, while really missing out on the deeper, essential connection?

 

Security blankets are great for children. They comfort them and make for wonderful transitional objects along a child’s path towards maturity and independence.

 

But perhaps as adults it is time to re-examine our daily actions, rituals and relationships and rediscover their intended meaning – rather than merely retaining them as a comforting security blanket.


 


Do you have a spiritual security blanket? Does it fill you with empty spiritual calories or does it empower you to reach a greater spiritual awareness?


 


Chana Weisberg is the author of several books, including Divine Whispers-Stories that Speak to the Heart and Souland 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. Visit Chana’s blog “Let’s Go For Coffee” at www.chabad.org/618216. She can be reached at chanaw@gmail.com. 

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/jewess-press/spiritual-security-blankets/2008/07/23/

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