On Monday evening, January 18, Chazaq’s Women’s Division hosted a beautiful virtual program featuring Rebbetzin Slovie Jungreis-Wolff and Rebbetzin Yaffa Palti. The program was emceed by Victoria Zirkiev and included questions from the participants.
Rebbetzin Slovie Jungreis-Wolff shared that Hashem gives us all these holidays – this is how He talks to us. In the winter we celebrate life. The sap is rising even though we don’t see it. On Tu BiSh’vat, from this moment, life is happening even though all we see is bare trees and cold weather.
She taught that everything that happened in Egypt happened across the centuries. As long as there is hope, there’s life. Women kept hope alive in Egypt. This is our job. When the soil is full of acid, then a seed can’t grow. In the same way, brachah can’t grow inside of you if you have no hope in you. The moment we start to think something negative, we have to say it’s acid soil and no brachah can come from it. We have to say to ourselves it’s hard but we can do this. We have to know that of course Hashem hears every t’filah. When we start thinking negatively, recalculate back to brachah.
We need to remember that every person has something negative and something positive. “We have to keep our eye on the brachah. Hashem is waiting to see where we put our eye.”
She taught that when you recognize the good that Hashem gave you, then you’re happier and Hashem wants to give you more.” Plant the seeds even with tears. Don’t let them go to waste. “Women, use your tears to nourish the soil.”
Someone then asked how we can keep ourselves consistent with our growth. Rebbetzin Jungreis-Wolff shared that after Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur we are changing our lives. Then, life happens. The coronavirus happens. We come to half-time Tu BiSh’vat. Tu Tu reminds us of a shofar and to keep inspiration alive. How do we do this? First, set a goal. Then make a plan and make it real – even if it’s a tiny goal. During the time of King David, there was a plague. He said to make 100 brachos a day. She suggested that we take on the obligation of standing still and not moving when we make a brachah. This can add tremendous focus and value to our brachos. When we recite the beginning of a brachah, we say, “Baruch atah Hashem.” Every time we make a brachah, we are asking Hashem to come into our lives. Hashem says: If you stand still and invite Me into your life, then I’ll give you brachah.
There are so many people lonely at home. Call someone you know or send an email. Make someone smile. At the end of the day, ask yourself, did I make somebody’s eyes shine today? We can do this just by saying hello and saying I’m thinking of you. When her mother, Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis, came to Bergen-Belsen as an eight-year-old child, her father said to her, “Here you have a huge mission. Here you can smile, because when you smile at people you give them hope.”
Rebbetzin Slovie suggested, “Find a person every day to smile at, and you can make a difference.” Women’s getting together like this has tremendous strength. This is how we will get out of galus. “When we cry for the pain of am Yisrael or the pain of another, and Hashem sees that we’re focusing on another’s pain, that is what Hashem wants.” She emphasized that “when we cry for another, that makes us am Yisrael.”
Another participant asked how you feel another’s pain. Rebbetzin Jungreis-Wolff taught that before davening, one should say: Right now I am accepting on myself the mitzvah to love another person as myself. Think of someone going through a difficulty and daven for him or her.
In the morning when we wake up, in the Modeh Ani we say the words “rabah emunasecha.” Hashem, so great is Your belief in me, that You gave me life. It means I’m needed in this world. Hashem has a vision of everything we can do, and Hashem gave us the gift of time. “We need to know that we have the potential to do something great. Everybody has something that she can contribute to make the world better.”
Tu BiSh’vat seder has all different fruits. One fruit is from Israel to infuse us with holiness. Some fruits have hard shells but have sweetness inside. This is a reminder that inside you have a soul that will never go away. Some fruits are soft on the outside but they have a hard pit on the inside to remind us that inside of us there’s courage and strength. “Every single woman has it.”
“We can’t give up.” Don’t discount the potential of women. The future of am Yisrael depends on every woman in klal Yisrael.
Someone asked about feeling scared to try. The Rebbetzin replied that a tzadik falls seven times. “We’re not angels. We have Yom Kippur every year because Hashem knows that we are human and we make mistakes. “Never be afraid of making a mistake. Be afraid of not trying.”
The message of Tu BiSh’vat is that the roots are hidden. We have to work on our roots. “A storm can come, but the tree will stand. If you know you have strong roots, then you never have to be afraid in life.”
Women are incredible. Hashem gave us binah, super wisdom, and only women possess it. We see depth. We have so much in our special DNA. When we daven the morning brachos, we thank Hashem for giving strength to the spiritually tired. We ask Hashem every day: Please give me enough strength not to be spiritually tired.
Rosh Chodesh is the holiday given to women. The moon’s message from Hashem is that the moon doesn’t stay the same. Sometimes we feel so empowered like the huge golden moon, and sometimes we feel like the crescent. Sometimes the moon is invisible. Hashem says this is your holiday, Tu BiSh’vat. Hashem says, women I love you. You are the future of am Yisrael. Even if I don’t see your strength like the moon, it’s there.
Someone then asked: “How can I connect to T’hilim?” Rebbetzin Jungreis-Wolff shared that King David gave us the words. He went through everything. For every situation, there’s a psalm to say. “You’re opening a spiritual account in heaven, and every time you say T’hilim, you’re making a deposit. Who knows its power for your future generations?”
Rebbetzin Jungreis-Wolff shared that “My T’hilim are my best friend.”
She taught that we should ask ourselves how today was better than yesterday. Tomorrow’s another day. Be honest with yourself. What can I do better tomorrow?
She concluded: “So much good comes in this world from women.” She gave everyone a brachah to have shalom, brachah, and good in our lives.
Next, inspirational speaker Rebbetzin Yaffa Palti spoke about how to get past hard times and distractions. There is a lot of negativity out there. “First, try to stay away from any negativity. Don’t watch the news. Stay away from negative people. Surround yourself with as much positivity as possible.”
She noted that the strongest part of a tree is its roots. We are connected to a tree. The soul gets external nourishment and that leads to internal change. A tree receives rain and sunlight, and that leads to the internal change, as the sap begins to rise and then all of a sudden there are fruits and flowers and blossoms. We need external inspiration, and that affects our internal growth.
“We have to solidify and ground ourselves in our roots.” Create an environment where we can be mentally, spiritually, and emotionally strong. Trees need to be pruned because some branches become dysfunctional. We need to access what in my life is causing me to be sick and trim that away.
A tree breathes in CO2 [carbon dioxide], which is poison, and it exhales oxygen. The message is the power we have as human beings. We can take in so much negativity and hate but we don’t exhale hate. We exhale love and peace. No matter what we hear, we have to not let it make us negative. We can exhale positivity.
Someone asked how we can lift our fellow Jewish women.
She taught that it’s so important to develop the midah of empathy and not judge them by circumstances. Every one of us has an entire inner world. We walk around with that inner world. We need to not judge others. We need to fortify ourselves and create emotional health. Encourage others. Show people how resilient they are.
You can’t be successful if you remain a victim in life. You need to know how strong and resilient you are. We have the ability to grow and make change and create certainty within uncertainty. “We can always control the quality of life, even if we can’t control the circumstances.”
Having a growth mindset means always evolving and wanting to be inspired and always wanting to learn. In a fixed mindset, the words “what if” lead to all the things that can go wrong. In a growth mind-set, “what if” leads to all the things that can go right. Our job is to take “what if” and flip it from anxiety to possibility. “Recognize that there is a certain brachah in uncertainty.”
This shiur can be viewed on www.TorahAnytime.com.
By Susie Garber