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October 2, 2014 / 8 Tishri, 5775
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Posts Tagged ‘Watch 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.

When It’s Time to Stop Being Nice!

Wednesday, November 5th, 2008

     Is there ever a time to say, “Enough! No more Mr. Nice guy for me!”

    Think about this one before responding with a knee-jerk reaction − it’s not an easy question: Which quality would you like to impart to your child − how to be a nice person, or how to be a successful one?

   In response, you’ll probably wonder if the two are necessarily mutually exclusive. Are they ever?

    We define a nice person as someone who cares about others and is sensitive to their feelings. We’ve all met these sorts of individuals. These are the people who are selfless, seeing beyond their own wishes and putting the needs of others before their own. These are the people we love to be around.

     On the other hand, we identify successful people as those who assert themselves to ensure that their personal goals are being met, irrespective of the needs, wishes or opinions of others. We’ve all met these types of individuals who guiltlessly step on anyone who gets in the way of their climb up their proverbial career or social ladders. These are the types whom we try to avoid − at all costs, but who, nevertheless, seem to be getting what they want out of life.

   So, can the two co-exist?

   Ideally, we’d all like to teach our children how to be accommodating to the perspectives of others. We’d like to teach them how to share their toys, their time on the swing and their snacks. We like to view ourselves, too, as considerate people who willingly give up our seat to the elderly or handicapped, who generously toss a few coins to the outstretched arms of a homeless indigent and who support the neighbourhood PTA. We value talking politely and criticizing sparingly. Until that is, we have a run-in with someone who so blithely takes advantage of our good heartedness.

   Ever had a situation where you are being neglectful to yourself (or your family) by tending to the whims of fussy Uncle Ben, critical cousin Sally and selfish neighbor Rhonda? Are you being considerate − or a wimp − by being a ‘”yes man” to your boss’s opinions or by kowtowing to your tyrannical co-worker’s quirks?

   There are times when decidedly un-nice behaviour is the best response. Our traditions give the wise advice: “With a sly person, be sly.” To achieve the greater goal, the correct response may be to deal deceitfully − or arrogantly, or selfishly, or sternly − with a person who only understands that negative language. With people who can’t see beyond the little circle of their ego, ask yourself, is being nice the correct approach or will a more stern method ultimately achieve the greater good?

    How do you draw the line?

    Maybe the answer lies in evaluating our motives.

    Ask yourself, “Why be nice?” Do you believe this is the right way to approach life? Or do you just want to be thought of as a nice person? Do you genuinely believe that your child should share the coveted park’s swing with others, or is it your fear that he will be labelled as the ill-mannered bully? Why are you giving a rubber stamp approval to your friend or co-worker? Is it because you agree with what s/he is doing, or are you reluctant to appear disagreeable? Why are you generously offering your time and energy to others − do you want to be considered kind, or do you genuinely believe in the cause?

    Perhaps the key is developing an inner strength.

    Let’s impart to our children − and demonstrate to ourselves − the backbone to stand strong, whether that means having the courage to act with kindness and sensitivity (which should always be our default) or to act with deceitful slyness or gruff sternness to those that only understand that language − to achieve the best outcome.

    Some of the most self-centered people look strong on the outside, but are weak within, completely incapable of overcoming their personal biases and whims. And some of the nicest, kindest people may seem weak on the outside but have the steely determination within − to do the right thing. Whether that means saying an accommodating, sweet “Yes” (in most cases) or an unkind, stiff “No.” Not because they are affected by how others will view them, but by how their Creator does.

   What do YOU think? When is it time to stop being nice?

    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 chanaw@gmail.com.

When It’s Time to Stop Being Nice!

Wednesday, November 5th, 2008

     Is there ever a time to say, “Enough! No more Mr. Nice guy for me!”


    Think about this one before responding with a knee-jerk reaction − it’s not an easy question: Which quality would you like to impart to your child − how to be a nice person, or how to be a successful one?


   In response, you’ll probably wonder if the two are necessarily mutually exclusive. Are they ever?


    We define a nice person as someone who cares about others and is sensitive to their feelings. We’ve all met these sorts of individuals. These are the people who are selfless, seeing beyond their own wishes and putting the needs of others before their own. These are the people we love to be around.


     On the other hand, we identify successful people as those who assert themselves to ensure that their personal goals are being met, irrespective of the needs, wishes or opinions of others. We’ve all met these types of individuals who guiltlessly step on anyone who gets in the way of their climb up their proverbial career or social ladders. These are the types whom we try to avoid − at all costs, but who, nevertheless, seem to be getting what they want out of life.


   So, can the two co-exist?


   Ideally, we’d all like to teach our children how to be accommodating to the perspectives of others. We’d like to teach them how to share their toys, their time on the swing and their snacks. We like to view ourselves, too, as considerate people who willingly give up our seat to the elderly or handicapped, who generously toss a few coins to the outstretched arms of a homeless indigent and who support the neighbourhood PTA. We value talking politely and criticizing sparingly. Until that is, we have a run-in with someone who so blithely takes advantage of our good heartedness.


   Ever had a situation where you are being neglectful to yourself (or your family) by tending to the whims of fussy Uncle Ben, critical cousin Sally and selfish neighbor Rhonda? Are you being considerate − or a wimp − by being a ‘”yes man” to your boss’s opinions or by kowtowing to your tyrannical co-worker’s quirks?


   There are times when decidedly un-nice behaviour is the best response. Our traditions give the wise advice: “With a sly person, be sly.” To achieve the greater goal, the correct response may be to deal deceitfully − or arrogantly, or selfishly, or sternly − with a person who only understands that negative language. With people who can’t see beyond the little circle of their ego, ask yourself, is being nice the correct approach or will a more stern method ultimately achieve the greater good?


    How do you draw the line?


    Maybe the answer lies in evaluating our motives.


    Ask yourself, “Why be nice?” Do you believe this is the right way to approach life? Or do you just want to be thought of as a nice person? Do you genuinely believe that your child should share the coveted park’s swing with others, or is it your fear that he will be labelled as the ill-mannered bully? Why are you giving a rubber stamp approval to your friend or co-worker? Is it because you agree with what s/he is doing, or are you reluctant to appear disagreeable? Why are you generously offering your time and energy to others − do you want to be considered kind, or do you genuinely believe in the cause?


    Perhaps the key is developing an inner strength.


    Let’s impart to our children − and demonstrate to ourselves − the backbone to stand strong, whether that means having the courage to act with kindness and sensitivity (which should always be our default) or to act with deceitful slyness or gruff sternness to those that only understand that language − to achieve the best outcome.


    Some of the most self-centered people look strong on the outside, but are weak within, completely incapable of overcoming their personal biases and whims. And some of the nicest, kindest people may seem weak on the outside but have the steely determination within − to do the right thing. Whether that means saying an accommodating, sweet “Yes” (in most cases) or an unkind, stiff “No.” Not because they are affected by how others will view them, but by how their Creator does.


   What do YOU think? When is it time to stop being nice?


    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 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.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/jewess-press/the-hardest-three-words-to-say/2008/10/29/

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