Eyshet Chayil Show with Malkah Fleisher - every Tuesday on IsraelNationalRadio.com

Malkah Fleisher brings you the 'Woman of Valor' perspective each week on:
The Eyshet Chayil Show, Tuesday, 11am EST, 6pm Israel
The Yishai & Malkah show, Thursday, 8am EST, 3pm Israel.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Your Best Ever Family Seder

Whether you're making a luxurious seder meal, or serving more affordable fare, your Passover seder will be memorable because of the environment you create. Learn how to make your kids love Passover, and create unforgetable seder night memories. Plus: Miriam, the Prophetess.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

10 Worst Meeting Offenses

Shalom Women of Valor (and the men who love them)!!

On this week's show, we ran out of time before discussing proper business etiquette pertaining to meetings. Many of today's great Women of Valor work for companies, businesses, organizations and enterprises of all times - here's how NOT to wow 'em in the board room (courtest of www.msn.com):

Worst Meeting Offenses

By Rachel Zupek, CareerBuilder.com writer

Unfortunately, meetings are not an expendable part of corporate America. They are, however – or at least they can seem like – a colossal waste of time. (Unless, of course, food is served.)

Mind-numbing as they may be, meetings are necessary. If conducted efficiently, they’re useful and can help you stand out in the workplace.

Though you might be making all the right meeting moves, there are always folks who struggle with the concept of “good meeting behavior.” There are always those who talk out of turn, snap their gum loudly or spin in their chairs while others are speaking.

Whether you’re the meeting leader or just a participant, prevent yourself from being “that guy” and never make these meeting mistakes:

1. Being Unprepared.

Participant: If you receive an agenda or support material beforehand, read it. Or, contact the leader of the meeting and ask for some background info. Figure out what you’ll be able to bring to the table in a discussion.

Leader: Make sure any technical aides are working – have a back-up plan if they aren’t. Confirm your meeting room; make sure it’s big enough for all attendees to fit comfortably and prepare the room beforehand so you aren’t wasting people’s time. Always provide an agenda or support material in advance.

2. Showing Up Late.

Participant: Whether you’re in a meeting with two people or 200, get there on time. Being late will damage your image and show your disrespect for others’ time. Don’t expect others to review what you missed if you are late.

Leader: Don’t call an “important” meeting and then make everyone wait for you to stroll in at your own convenience. Worse, don’t forget about the meeting altogether and leave your co-workers waiting for you.

3. Being a Meeting Hog.

Participant: Don’t talk just to talk – plan to speak when you have something useful to say. If you’re asked to say something, be conscious of how much floor time you’re taking to make a point. Be blunt, be brief and be done.

Leader: It’s your job to facilitate proper flow of conversation. If there’s someone hogging the floor, it’s up to you to keep track of the time and let others have a turn.

4. Sitting Silently.

Participant: Refusing to participate will earn you a label you don’t want: Either as someone who lacks creativity or who can’t get things done; or your colleagues might get the vibe that you think you’re too good to offer your input. Engage in conversations, even if it’s only to share one suggestion. Otherwise, don’t bother showing up.

Leader: Encourage participation. Don’t hand attendees a topic and let them run with it – lead the conversation and motivate others to get involved. If no one volunteers, take it upon yourself to ask people for their questions, comments and opinions.

5. Expressing Rude Body Language.

Participant: Sleeping, sighing, slouching in your chair, hair tossing/touching/smoothing, spinning in your chair, leaving the room, eating loudly and making rude gestures or facial expressions are all distracting, rude and disrespectful.

Leader: Manage those who are being rude. Don’t put anyone down, but don’t tolerate disrespectful behavior.

6. Conducting Sidebar Conversations.

Participant: Having a side conversation is possibly the rudest thing you can do in a meeting. Even if you’re discussing the topic at hand, save sidebar conversations for after the meeting.

Leader: If you notice attendees chitchatting, ask if there’s a question or concern – this turns the attention back to the meeting’s issues, and lets everyone know sidebar conversations aren’t tolerated.

7. Arguing or Putting Others Down.

Participant: Disagreements are fine – as long as they’re appropriate. Don’t make others (i.e., the boss or your co-worker) look bad. Don’t contradict them, expose their mistakes in a condescending way or ignore their points altogether. If you have something to debate, do it in private and don’t waste everyone’s time.

Leader: There’s no need to discredit others’ ideas or comments just because you are leading the meeting. Be professional when you disagree.

8. Leaving Your Cell Phone On.

Participant: Cell phones shouldn’t even enter the boardroom, but if they do, turn them to vibrate mode. Interrupting meeting progress with your calls is distasteful and disrespectful. If you’re expecting an obligatory phone call, either skip the meeting or let everyone in the room know in advance the call might happen and excuse yourself quietly when (and if) it does.

Leader: Same advice - leave cell phones out or turn them off.

9. Chewing Gum.

Participant: The smack, crackle and pop of your gum are annoying, not to mention rude and unprofessional. Get rid of it.

Leader: You want attendees to pay attention to you, not your gum-smacking.

10. Shutting Down After the Meeting.

Participant: Forgetting what you heard in the meeting is counter-productive. Hold onto support materials, and if you still have questions or concerns, contact the leader.

Leader: Tie up all loose ends in the meeting. Reach a consensus if necessary; otherwise, summarize effectively to answer any and all questions.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

The Ten Commandments of Marriage

Shalom Faithful Listeners!

Here is the article I promised you from last week's show:

From www.Chabad.org

The Ten Commandments of Marriage

By Esther Piekarski

The concept of marriage does not apply only between men and women in Judaism, but rather, our entire relationship with our Creator is considered a marriage. Our wedding anniversary is the holiday of Shavuot, the day in which we received the Torah, and just as a marriage should be continually renewed, so too, each and every year we once again relive the giving of the Torah, our marriage to G-d.

We received the Torah as an entire people, men, women and children, and we are taught that Mt. Sinai itself, the smallest and most humble of all the mountains, was held above our heads, symbolizing the wedding canopy, the chupah. When we received the Ten Commandments, the foundation of the Torah, this represented the giving of the marriage contract, the ketubah, representing our love, commitment, respect and responsibility within this relationship.
Doubt can kill any good marriage

Every time a man and woman marry, as they stand under the wedding canopy, it is a reenactment of our wedding day with G-d, the day we received these Ten Commandments. Therefore, it is clear that when we look more deeply into these commandments, that we will find not only spiritual advice for enhancing our marriages, but very practical and essential guidelines as well.

The Ten Commandments

1. I Am the L-rd Your G-d Who Took You Out of Egypt From the House of Slaves. Have No other Gods.

Let there be no doubt:

In my work teaching and counseling couples, I have met many people who feel uncertain they are married to the right person. They may have been married for decades, but they are still not quite 100% sure. Some may have been sure at a certain time, but then doubt crept in. "Was I too rushed or immature when I made my decision?" "Is he the right person?" "Would I be happier with someone else?" "Did we both grow in different directions, become different people, in the years since our wedding?"

Yes, you were immature when you got married but that is a good thing: You met when you were younger, still flexible, and you grew up together. You did both develop and change since your wedding, but if you keep each other involved in the changes and the growth, they only serve to make you more interesting to each other.

Make no mistake: doubt can kill any good marriage; I hate to think what it can do to a shaky one. I have had experiences with women who were content only after recognizing and wanting to accept: “This is my husband. This is the man I chose to marry.” And upon recognizing that decision, you recognize that this is the man you are intended to stay with, work with, live with, raise children with, pay bills with, figure things out with, and grow old with - this man and only this man.

Now, in this first commandment, the first word is Anochi. Anochi means "I" in the Egyptian language. Now why would G-d start the Torah, indeed the very first of the Ten Commandments, in a foreign language and not in Hebrew?

At that time, we, the Jewish people had just come out of Egypt. Although we used our Hebrew language, Egyptian had also become quite familiar to us. G-d chose to communicate to us in a common language - some common ground with which to start off the relationship. This holds a lesson for us all.

At some point in life, a woman might think to herself, "Oh, he is so different from me." Still, with effort and devotion, common ground can be found. If you have to 'speak a foreign language' for a while, do so.

The use of the word "Anochi" - I - teaches us that G-d put Himself, His very essence, into the Torah. The lesson therefore for us is that we must likewise put our heart and soul into our marriages.

Who took you out of Egypt

Why does G-d keep reminding us where we come from? Is it so pleasant to keep hearing that we were once slaves? Can't we just forget the past and 'move on'?

We all come from somewhere. Much as we would like to start fresh as newborns from the wedding on and have no baggage - the fact is we all come into marriage carrying our backgrounds, childhoods, habits, expectations, differences and perhaps even, G-d forbid, traumas. If we have something in our past that we need to deal with we must do so and not sweep it under the rug. Anything swept under the rug today will only grow bigger by tomorrow - or next week, or ten years from now. Sooner or later, it has to be taken out, examined and laid to rest. Sooner is much better than later. You can really hurt yourself, as well as other members of your family, if you trip on all those lumps under the rug.

Until we acknowledge our baggage, the temptation exists to blame our insecurities on our husband. Is there something within us that needs to be dealt with - something from way back?
Comparing only leads to trouble

We are not the only ones who have a past. Our husbands, too, come from a different home, went to a different school, perhaps grew up in a different culture. As similar as we think we may be, we are still going to be different. Sometimes a woman gets upset about something her husband does or doesn't do because she makes the assumption that “he should know.” For example, you may have a way of celebrating your birthday growing up where you always had a cake and received presents. But things may have been done quite differently in his parents' home. So if you never explain what you expect on your birthday, you can’t be upset if your husband doesn’t know that you want a cake and presents. Each partner must take the other's past into consideration.

2. Do Not Have Other Gods Before Me

Don't look at other men; don't compare your husband to other women's husbands.

Recently my phone rang and it was a woman I didn't know. She wanted to talk. She was unhappy. She was married several years and suddenly realized that her husband was not as smart, polite, fine, well-brought-up, sophisticated, as...

As she spoke I felt that part of her sentence was missing. "He's just not as good as... “As whom?” I asked.

She would not answer. Pressing harder, I asked if they had been out recently with another couple. Taken aback, she exclaimed, "Oh, you saw us at the restaurant?" (The fact is I did not even know to whom I was speaking!)

I assured her that I had not seen them, but explained that it was clear she was comparing her husband to someone else and I asked her to tell me what happened.

She wistfully described how the night before, at the restaurant, her friend's husband had pulled out the chair for his wife, taken her coat and respectfully hung it up for her. Her own husband never noticed her chair or her coat. The other woman's husband had known just what to order and had even known his wife's preferences. Her own husband sat there waiting for her to order for him, announcing that he hated fancy food. Then he joked about people who eat anything other than steak and potatoes. The other man had been so sophisticated and genteel, while her own husband inadvertently insulted the waiter. Why, the other husband had even known all about wines! She had come home feeling very disappointed in her husband.

This is absurd, of course. Knowing which wine to order does not a good husband make! One could argue that the opposite is true.

Focus on the good that is in your husband, the things that matter. By recognizing them, you will strengthen them. Thanking him for his patience while learning with the children, for example, will strengthen that quality in him. Acknowledge and reinforce the good.

Comparing only leads only to trouble. This is your spouse, there is no other.

3. Do Not Say G-d's Name in Vain

Don't speak about your husband lightly or needlessly.

We sometimes have a tendency to put down our husbands in a laughing, joking way. Why? Is there a purpose? What good can it possibly do?

A couple shops together at the supermarket. As they stand at the checkout counter, the wife remembers that she forgot to get something. She sweetly asks her devoted husband to go back down the aisle and get her favorite cereal. As she watches her husband go up and down the aisles - dairy, frozen, produce, cleansers - looking for her favorite cereal that she forgot, she turns to the woman on line behind her and says, "Can you believe this guy? He's going through the whole supermarket looking for cereal! MEN!" Now what was that for? What did these words accomplish? Why is this condescending, husband-bashing necessary?

We all have a need to air our feelings. It helps to hear that others deal with similar situations - that a certain behavior is just "typical male" and not to be taken personally. This is why I strongly encourage women to have a mentor (a mashpia), a good friend, someone to talk to. We all need that heart to heart sometimes. It is healthy to have someone close and reliable with whom to confidentially and privately discuss issues that are weighing on us. This is not needless talk. This is conversation with a purpose, where one speaks of one's husband with respect. Quite different than flippantly and publicly putting him down.
Make time for your marriage

A couple married only a year came to see me. They were in shock. They had just heard that a rumor was going around the wife's home town saying that they were getting divorced! The trouble was that they were the last to know. There was no truth to it whatsoever. The mystery soon became clear.

The wife was a very young woman now living in Israel, her husband's country. Immediately following their wedding it was necessary for her to accustom herself to a foreign language and an entirely new culture, far from home and far from anyone she knew. At the same time, she had to adjust to married life. This is never an easy challenge, and of course there were some difficult moments.

One day, not long after getting married and moving to Israel, a friend called. Hearing her friend's voice brought her homesickness to the fore. The stressed newlywed allowed herself the luxury and release of a long tearful whining session to her equally young, as-yet-unmarried and still-in-school friend. She cried about how lonely and homesick she was - how difficult all the adjustments were.

This inexperienced, young school girl, clearly the wrong person to confide in, hung up the phone quite unhappy and overwhelmed. She had been handed a burden that was too heavy for her. So she shared it. She told her mother that her friend was miserable in her marriage and wanted to come home. It wasn't long before the divorce story spread around town, especially since nobody in America ever saw the young woman, who had actually made the adjustments quite admirably in her own way, managing quite well with her new husband in Israel!

Fortunately this couple is still happily married, albeit with a lesson learned. We must remember to speak to others about private issues only when there is a clear purpose, and we must carefully choose to whom we speak as well as when and where.

4. Remember the Day of Shabbat and Keep it Holy


Remembering is a good thing. Create good memories for yourself and your family. Time spent together, a smile, a note, a picture, birthday parties and family affairs are all wonderful memories. Pull them out of your memory bank when things get tough. Give your children memories to share. We all have good memories of some sort, collected from our childhoods, that surface at different times in our lives and give us strength. Create new ones in your married life together. Allow yourself, encourage yourself, to dwell on the good times.

I once spoke with a woman who works with couples going through divorce. I wanted to help couples reconcile before they moved on to something as tragic and final as divorce. She told me how she knows whether there is hope for a couple to reconcile or not. She asks them conversationally, "So how did you meet?" If they answer with a little smile, with a glimmer of some positive emotion in their eyes, she knows there is still hope. If they say they can't remember or look back at her, stony-faced...

Keep (literally - watch)

Shabbat is the day we reinforce our bond with G-d, a day we spend time on spiritual pursuits as opposed to "another day, another dollar."

Make time for your marriage. Take a day off, an evening away, some time with no phones, doorbells, or other distractions.

A very busy man was always promising his wife to take time off to be alone with her, but it never worked out. He just didn't have the time in his day, he said. She had no doubt he was truly busy with important things. One day, she told him that one of his biggest supporters had called saying he would be coming to town. She told him she scheduled a meeting for them in the lobby of the hotel where the big supporter would be staying. Her husband duly and gratefully marked the appointment on his calendar. When he showed up to the appointment with two hours cleared to spend with his supporter, he found his wife waiting for him. She said, "I am your biggest supporter, and I need some time with you."

Realize who your biggest supporter really is and give him/her the time and attention s/he needs and deserves. Ultimately, your relationship stands to profit.

To sanctify it, to keep it holy

What can make our marriages richer, stronger and longer-lasting? We must recognize that there is a third Partner in our marriages, G-d. Holiness is the most important word in a Jewish marriage. Treat your marriage as the holy union it is.

Marriage is not just about the two of you. It is not about what you want or what he wants. It is about you, him and G-d. What does He want? If you both focus on pleasing Him, you will ultimately please yourselves and each other as well.

The subject of Kedusha (sanctity) in marriage is a topic in its own right. One must always remember that under the marriage canopy G-d was invited into this union and thereby made it a legal marriage "According to the law of Moshe and Israel." As long as we respect and uphold that making it part of our daily lives, we will merit that our home be blessed by G-d.

5. Honor Your Father and Your Mother

Take this literally. Honor your parents and your parents-in-law. It might be difficult at times. That is why it is a commandment. But if you make the effort to honor your parents, you will gain and so will your children.

There is such a thing as too much involvement. The primary influence and focus after marriage should be one's spouse, not one's mother. However, when balanced, healthy, strong connections with the older generation are beneficial to everyone in the family.

In honoring our parents, especially once they reach old age, we must learn to give them what they need and what they want, not what we think we would want if we were them. In recognition of their age, we need to respect their whim.

As we respect and honor our parents' wishes although they may make no sense to us, so too should we honor our spouses' wishes. More than once I have received calls from men and women (calling in advance of a counseling session) asking me to convince their spouses to see things their way. Basically what they are saying is, "Make him think as I think, make him feel as I feel." People are different. It is so much wiser and more practical to expend effort on respecting the differences, rather than trying to erase them.

6. Do Not Murder

The Torah commentator Iben Ezra says the prohibition against murder means "with your hand or with your tongue.” Physical abuse and verbal abuse are clearly both forbidden.

When you speak cruelly to someone, you kill his or her character, you destroy the personality. Instead of blossoming, you make the other shrivel.
We must recognize that there is a third Partner in our marriages

You may have seen this happen. A very talented, happy and outgoing young man or woman seems to just withdraw after getting married - as if someone killed all their self confidence. (If this happens to someone you know, be suspicious. There might be verbal or physical abuse taking place.) One of the main gifts of marriage is the self-confidence we can attain from a spouse who has confidence in us. A spouse's attitude can either build or, G-d forbid, destroy. Living in a critical, hostile environment is a killer. Living in an environment of love, acceptance and support, on the other hand, builds up a person's self-esteem, setting the stage for success in every aspect of life.

As a spouse, recognize the power you hold. Make the effort to encourage, sincerely compliment and express appreciation. If stealing someone's confidence through verbal cruelty is the equivalent of murder, then uplifting the confidence of another can only be the equivalent of giving them life.

Do not kill- Don't kill his personality; his ability to succeed. Every husband/wife can and should be the cheering squad for the other.

7. Be Faithful

What does it mean to be faithful? It means recognizing that there are areas of marriage that are private. It means that we don't reveal our personal issues to the public - that is betrayal. It means that both a man and woman should respect the private space and time within marriage as sacred and know that what happens there, stays there. It means trust.

A man was at work and heard two of his co-workers discussing an incident that had happened between a man and his wife. As he listened to them laughing at this story, he turned bright red. He recognized the story. It had happened in his house. They were talking about him!

He realized that his wife had told her friend, who had told her husband, who was now telling his co-worker, this extremely private story. To him this was a lack of faithfulness on her part, a very important breach of trust and it was nearly impossible to convince him to go back to her.

8. Do Not Steal

Giving credit where it is due won't cost you a penny, yet can buy you the world

A man I know earned his degree after many years of study. Whenever someone congratulated him, he replied, "The credit really goes to my wife. She took on extra jobs to support us so I could learn. She took the kids out of the house so I could study."

I know a speaker who starts every speech by thanking her husband. After all, she is standing there, beautiful, calm and well-prepared, while her husband is home putting all the children to sleep. She shares the credit with him.

9. Do Not Bear False Witness

The commandment to be truthful reminds us to have honest and open communication in marriage.

Talk! Say what is bothering you. Please, oh please, just say it! We don't receive the gift of prophecy under the marriage canopy. Some women mistakenly think, "If my husband really loved me, he would know what is bothering me." Not true! If you really loved him, you would just tell him, simply and politely. The same applies to husbands.

Don't accuse - share. Stick with "I" sentences. "I feel uncomfortable when..." "I worry that.."

Every time you keep something inside you without revealing what is bothering you, you add a layer of bricks to a wall of your own making. At first you can decide to step over the wall whenever you want. After some time it requires a little jump. Okay, you think, you can jump over such a low wall whenever you decide to. Soon, however, you may need a ladder, but you can still get over it when you really want to. As the years pass and you keep adding one row of bricks after another, the wall grows so high and so impenetrable that you just can’t get over it anymore. Tragically, communication is now totally blocked by countless issues, some tiny, some huge. Issues that were never aired and never dealt with. With expertise and much effort, the wall can still be brought down, at any stage of life, but think how much more productive and less painful, never to have constructed it in the first place.

10. Do Not Covet

Don't be jealous. Now who would be jealous of her own husband? But many women are.

In a lot of situations, especially if the woman is home with the children and her husband goes to work, they are jealous of their husbands' freedom. Husbands can generally come and go whenever they wish, while their wives must find baby sitters and make 100 arrangements before they can walk out the door. Men just call out, "Bye! I'm leaving!" and breeze out the door. Often, if a husband is stuck at work and the wife is then stuck at home with supper, homework, baths and bedtime, this can lead to jealousy and resentment.

Every husband should bear in mind the burden that his wife carries and try to help her as much as possible. In addition to that, he should appreciate and understand her. His verbal appreciation alone can lighten her load more than he can imagine.

Every wife should bear in mind that if she is unhappy and resentful, she should sit down with her husband, or perhaps with a mentor and figure out what she can do to achieve satisfaction and set herself free from any resentment. Maybe she needs to get out and be in the company of other women. Maybe she needs to work additional hours. Maybe she needs to work fewer hours or stop working altogether, for a while, or try to ease the pressure in some other area of her daily life. Perhaps she needs more help in the house, or presently has inept help. Maybe there is one particular friend who is making her feel this way. Mother-in-law trouble, who knows? With a little thought and some discussion, she can figure out what she needs and attain it without hurting her children and she can stop being jealous of her husband.

The Ten Commandments apply to all aspects of our lives and in every situation. If we look carefully and deep within, through adhering to these laws we will first be able to rectify ourselves and from that, we will have the ability to rectify the world around us. The sooner we are able to fulfill the Ten Commandments -both literally and figuratively, the sooner Moshiach will come, and we will be redeemed, may it be Now!

Friday, May 04, 2007

Sorry for the Wait - Matzah Toffee Recipe

I'm sorry about the long hiatus in posts - I hope to return to this blog much more regularly in the future.

In any event, on last week's Eyshet Chayil Show, I promised you recipes! Because I only tried one of them (and it was AWESOME), I decided to include it.

The rating of "awesome" was achieved in the following ways:

1. It was very easy to make
2. Aside from the fact that matzah was the main ingredient (as an ode to Pesach Sheni), it actually TASTED good!
3. My husband took a batch to the office, and everyone said they thought it was really delicious (I wasn't there, so it's not like they were obligated by my eager do-you-like-my-cooking face

So here it is, courtesy of www.epicurious.com

My Trademark, Most Requested, Absolutely Magnificent Caramel Matzoh Crunch

4-6 unsalted matzohs
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter or margarine
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
3/4 cup coarsely chopped chocolate chips or semi-sweet chocolate
a dash of salt (optional)

Preheat the oven to 375. Line a large (or two smaller) cookie sheets completely with foil. Cover the bottom of the sheet with baking parchment - on top of the foil. This is very important since the mixture becomes sticky during baking.

Line the bottom of the cookie sheet evenly with matzohs, cutting extra pieces, as required, to fit any spaces.

In a 3-quart, heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine the butter or margarine and the brown sugar. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture comes to a boil (about 2 to 4 minutes). Boil for 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat and pour over the matzoh, covering completely.

Place the baking sheet in the oven and immediately reduce the heat to 350. Bake for 15 minutes, checking every few minutes to make sure the mixture is not burning (if it seems to be browning too quickly, remove the pan from the oven, lower the heat to 325, and replace the pan.

Remove from the oven and sprinkle immediately with the chopped chocolate or chips. Let stand for 5 minutes, then spread the melted chocolate over the matzoh. While still warm, reak into squares or odd shapes. Chill, still in the pan, in the freezer until set.

(you can also sprinkle the top with chopped nuts while the chocolate is still gooey!)

Enjoy - I know I did!

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

22 Tips for High Self Esteem

Shalom Dear Listeners!

On the last Eyshet Chayil Show (Feb. 13), we discussed all kinds of useful topics and shared great (and random) advice. But we didn't have time for our last segment! So for those of you who are dedicated (and smart) enough to check my blog, here are some great tips for achieving High Self Esteem!

1. Stop comparing yourself with other people.

Human beings can amplify or reduce their value by contrasting themselves either positively or negatively with others. But if you play the comparison game, you’ll run into too many “opponents” you can’t defeat. There will always be some people who have more than you and some who have less. So stop comparing!

2. Stop the critic inside of you.

Some people have a bad habit of putting themselves down often. They say negative things to themselves like, “I’m always late. Why am I such a flake?” or “There you go again, stupid!” So get in the new habit of catching yourself saying critical things about yourself and learn to silence your inner critic. And if this is unavoidable, at least tone down the level of your criticism.

3. Forgive and forget.

Do not waste your time and energy thinking of past hurts. Your time can be wisely spent for other productive things rather than forlorn thoughts. We make mistakes, even when we’re trying our best. Sometimes you just have to apologize, let it go and move on.

4. Associate with positive, supportive people.

The “real you” is a magnificent, unique being with enormous potential and capacity for experiencing love of yourself and extending love to others. So keep your interest in life at a high level by being in the company of enthusiastic people. This way, you will get infected by their positive attitude. You will view the world in its full shining glory and move around oozing with energy. In the same manner, it would be wise to stay away from negatively inclined thinkers. When you are surrounded by negative people who constantly put you and your ideas down, your self-esteem is lowered.

5. Get involved in work and activities you love.

It’s hard to feel good about yourself if your days are spent in work you hate. Self-esteem flourishes when you are engaged in work and activities that you enjoy and make you feel valuable. And even if you’re not in a position to make immediate changes in your career, you can still devote some of your leisure time to enjoyable hobbies or activities.

6. Be true to yourself.

Live your own life - not the life someone decided is best for you. You will never gain your own respect and you will never feel good about yourself if you aren’t leading the life you want to lead. So if you’re still making decisions based on getting approval from friends and relatives, you aren’t being true to yourself and your self-esteem is lowered.

7. Talk affirmatively to others and yourself.

Words carry enough power that can either hurt other people or yourself. Similarly, words can generate enough power to give warmth and comfort. So be conscious of your choice of words. Choose affirmative words when speaking with someone.
8. Quit blaming yourself for mistakes in the past.

Many things in our lives are only minimally in our control, but those of us who develop low self-esteem take the full blame for the resulting negative outcomes. Instead, learn to honor your efforts and give proper credit for things that you have done well. Following a practical approach for managing your self-esteem will prevent it from becoming a problem and keep you off that rollercoaster.

9. Make a long list of your personal breakthroughs.

Think of times when you did something that you thought that never could do but managed to pull off successfully. These breakthroughs can generate an authentic source of never-ending pride in you. Read this list often. While reviewing it, close your eyes and recreate the feelings of satisfaction and joy you experienced when you first attained each success.

10. Make a list of your positive qualities.

Not everyone has your unique abilities and talents. Are you honest? Unselfish? Helpful? Creative? Be generous with yourself and write down at least 20 positive qualities. Again, it’s important to review this list often. Most people dwell on their inadequacies and then wonder why their life isn’t working out. Start focusing on your positive traits and you’ll stand a much better chance of achieving what you wish to achieve.
11. Figure out the hidden strengths in your so-called weaknesses.

You can’t develop high self-esteem if you constantly repeat negative comments about your skills and abilities. Remember that there is always a positive in every negative if you look hard enough. For instance, you may think of yourself as stubborn, but the flipside is that you’re also persistent and dependable.
12. Rediscover and reaffirm your personal strengths.

Sometimes you have to take a new inventory on what you like about your looks, smile, body, sexiness, health, personality, and character strengths. Don’t sell yourself short. It isn’t wrong or egotistical to praise ourselves.
13. Ignore yourself.

Sometimes the real problem isn’t self-esteem at all but a tendency toward overthinking. When you get this feeling direct your focus to other things. Give it a rest already!

14. Examine your needs.

Some of us need more praise from others than other people do. Some people need to always be accomplishing something, or they feel let down. In other words, it could very well be that you’re ok, but you’re just in a slower activity period right now, so it feels like you feel bad, when you really don’t. Relax, and take it easy!

15. Accept all compliments with “Thank You.”

Don’t dismiss or ignore them. When you do this you give yourself the message that you do not deserve or are not worthy of praise, which by the way reflects low self-esteem. Respond to all compliments with a simple Thank You.

16. Start giving more.

You must give more of yourself to those around you. Because when you do things for someone else, you are making a positive contribution and you begin to feel more valuable, which in turn lifts your spirits and raises your own self-esteem. So next time you see a downcast or downtrodden individual, pick him up from the rut. Share with him the warmth of your helping hand and watch the glow in his eyes.

17. Be your own cheerleader.

The energy and enthusiasm of a cheerleader is necessary in order to make the radical emotional changes required to raise your self-esteem. Learn how to enjoy a few minutes of self-congratulations instead of jumping right into the next task as if nothing happened, or dismissing it as meaningless. It does mean something. Being your own cheerleader isn’t silly, it’s smart and contagious.
18. Start small and do a task you can accomplish easily.

There’s no faster way to build self-esteem than to add yet another accomplishment to your roster. It always feels good to get something crossed off our to-do list. And it doesn’t necessarily have to consist of monumental accomplishments.

19. Examine the pattern of highs and lows.

Perhaps you’re just in a “praise starvation” mode - it’s been too long since you got a compliment or got to do anything that someone noticed. Or perhaps you started the downward spiral when you said some bad things to someone. It’s always good to remember that self-esteem is a mental construct. So examine your patterns and you’ll know what to do.

20. Get some exercise.

Exercise can decrease ‘stress hormones’ like cortisol, and increase endorphins, your body’s ‘feel-good’ chemicals, giving your mood a natural boost. If you’ve been focusing on one type of exercise, vary that routine and try a different type. If you don’t exercise, go for a walk. Even the change of scenery will do you good. It also forces your perspective to change a little, and you may see yourself in a better light. Also physical activity itself can take your mind off of your problems and either redirect it on the activity at hand or get you into a zen-like state.
21. Take advantage of workshops, books and cassette tape programs on self-esteem.

Whatever material we allow to dominate our mind will eventually take root and affect our own behavior. For example, if you watch negative television programs or read newspaper reports of murders and business rip off; you will grow cynical and pessimistic. On the other hand, if you read books or listen to programs, that are positive in nature, you will take on these characteristics.

22. Take action!

The universe rewards action! When you take action - regardless of the ensuing result - you feel better about yourself. When you fail to move forward because of fear and anxiety, you’ll be frustrated and unhappy - and you will undoubtedly deal a damaging blow to your self-esteem.

Consider these simple tips and try them. These activities will never fail to boost your self-esteem. And as your self-esteem grows, the “real you” emerges. You begin to take more risks and not be afraid of failure; you aren’t as concerned with getting approval of others; your relationships are much more rewarding; you pursue activities that bring you joy and satisfaction; and you will make a positive contribution to the world. Most importantly, high self esteem will bring you peace of mind - and next time you’re all alone, you’ll truly appreciate the person you’re with - YOURSELF.
(Thanks to the Ririan Project for this article)

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

A Special Tu B'Shevat Seder For You!

Shalom Dear Listeners,

After many bouts of coughing (and just a few more on the way), I've made it out of quarantine, and am back with you for another great week of the Eyshet Chayil Show!!

This week, we discuss the fun (and yummy) holiday of Tu b'Shevat, the holiday of the trees.

I have put together a very special seder that I think will be meaningful for all of you who believe that being proactive, that putting forth extra effort, that good intentions, can truly make the world a better place. I am now setting it free in the great wide web of the world, so that you can enjoy it at home!


Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Be a Chassidic Feminist!

Shalom, wonderful listeners and readers!

On this week's Eyshet Chayil Show, we talked about all sorts of interesting things, including this week's Torah portion, and the Jewish guidelines for nighttime.

With only an hour a week, we can't always cover ALL the great stuff that's going on in the world, on the internet, or in Malkah's whirling little mind. So here are two articles, from TOTALLY different sources, that will be your supplement!

The first is from www.jewishwoman.org, a subsidiary of Chabad.org. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

Chassidic Feminist
By Rivkah Slonim

I would describe myself as a Chassidic feminist. The two terms are not mutually exclusive, though their combination is not without tension. Primarily, I am a Chassid, and my identity is wrapped up in that word.
I was born into a Chabad-Lubavitch family that never questioned the intellect or ability of a woman. I grew up surrounded by female role-models of strength, character and intelligence.

This was rooted to a large extent in our Chassidic background. The Chassidic approach to Judaism--and especially the Chabad-Chassidic approach -- brought a certain equality and an enhanced status to women in Jewish life, which increased further over the generations as women took on a larger, more prominent role.My femininity was more than just the way I was...

The women in my family were a force to be reckoned with, and as I soon learned, never to be underestimated.
As I was growing up, there was nothing I felt was beyond my reach, except perhaps shul life as enjoyed by the men. This often seemed unfair, but there was an understanding that this was just the way it was.
As I grew older, I realized that I enjoyed being female. My femininity was more than just the way I was; it was a unique part of who I wanted to be and how I wanted to express myself.

Yes, there were things I wished I could do. But I lived in a world of absolutes, the Torah world. I loved that world and I knew it to be true. If in a world of absolutes there were certain things a woman didn't do... I just wouldn't do them even if I wanted to.

They never loomed all-important. The joy and potential for fulfillment in the Chassidic-Jewish lifestyle, coming from knowing who you are and having a sense of direction and purpose in life, was far more significant.

I am still somewhat bothered by issues which, in this pre-Redemption era, have yet to be resolved. I am still drawn to some feminist polemics and compelled by certain arguments. But I know that after all of the arguments, refutations and debate, something must speak to the soul.

From somewhere there must come the ability to look beyond the individual issues to the totality that is Judaism. For me that has been the teachings of Chassidut.

Whenever I feel a tug, I ask myself some simple existential questions. Why am I here? Chassidut answers: to transform this world into a dwelling place for G-d, a place of spirituality and sanctity. Mitzvot in accordance with Halachah, Torah law, are our only tools for doing this.

An explanation of Shir HaShirim, the Song of Songs, has been particularly meaningful to me. Song of Songs speaks of a love between woman and man; it is a metaphor for the relationship between G-d and the Jewish people.

The literature is graphic and overwhelmingly physical; it resonates heat and passion. Here is the vivid joining of man and woman, a physical meshing and weaving of their bodies -- sexuality as the nexus of body and soul.
For G-d/Jew relationship is not meant to be platonic. It calls for nothing less than a coupling of body and soul: action.

A mitzvah is spirituality realized with and within the physical realm; it is the only way for a human to draw on the Divine. On this level, unity and oneness cannot be achieved through even the most sincere emotions or most passionate exclamations. There must be action.For if I wish to be in a relationship with G-d, I must make room for G-d within me...

Taking the male/female metaphor a step further, we know that conception occurs when one, the woman, accepts the other into her self. In their oneness, in their transcendence of self, the two potentially create a third, new, reality.

As Jews we need to create this opening within ourselves. In our relationship with G-d, we all -- both men and women -- must strive to purge ourselves of the overriding ego and, in its stead, create a space to accept and embrace G-d in a spirit of receptivity.

When we transcend the self and allow for fusion with G-d, on His terms, only then is there the possibility of "progeny," of eternity, in our relationship.

Relating this thought to myself, I cannot allow anything -- the winds of society, the most finely tuned arguments, my own desires -- to come between me and the performance of that action: mitzvot according to Halachah.

And if there is within me what Steinsaltz calls the strife of the spirit, it is mine to grapple with.
For if I wish to be in a relationship with G-d and tap into eternity, I must make room for G-d within me, even if it means negating the "I" that stands in the way.

There is an image that comes to my mind:
On a Friday morning some months ago, I walked into my grandparents' kitchen and witnessed a scene which to them was just life, but for me was a revelation.

My grandfather was in one corner of the room putting on his tefillin. My grandmother was in the other, separating a portion of the challah dough (which my grandfather had kneaded for her so that she could fulfill the special mitzvah). He was reciting the Shema, she the appropriate blessing for separating "challah."
Both were praying with equal fervor. Both were in communication with their G-d, with no thought of their "roles." They were joined with the Divine, in a place above distinctions.

Although at the core my life and my grandmother's lives reflect the same values, there is a major difference.The feminist movement has helped society catch up to the Chasidic world.

My grandmother grew up in an age when a woman's role was unquestioned, when life was much simpler, and whatever choices existed were based on necessity, not personal options. I, on the other hand, am immersed every day in the chaotic, constantly changing world of the near-21st century.

My grandmother has strength and purity; her vision is pristine and untainted. She has what one would call clarity, while I have tensions. My vision is often obscured by my ego. I too can feel and sense what she does, but not intuitively.

My intellect has to become involved to a much greater extent, and I have to find my inspiration and strength in a deeper understanding of Torah. I must study to know what she knows in her gut.

The Chassidic lens gives me a perspective of the world in which we live, and the changes which take place within it. Jewish mysticism explains that with the advent of Moshiach, the feminine powers in this world will become predominant. The Schechinah (feminine dimension of the Divine) will be manifest, and the feminine attributes will be the primary conduits for G-dliness in this world. It seems to me that the women's movement as we know it actually reflects this spiritual reality.

I feel grateful to the feminist movement for the positive changes it has brought for women. It has brought opportunity, equitable pay and respect to the female half of society. My perception is that the feminist movement has helped society catch up to the Chasidic world.

Today, we see a feminism more grounded in the female self. We see a new generation recognizing the joy and fulfillment in motherhood. There is a dawning that we women are different, biologically, psychologically, intellectually, spiritually and in every other way.

There has yet to come the knowledge that we need not diminish that unique identity in any way in our quest for recognition and respect.

That's some deep stuff!!

Next, let's flex our "Chassidic Feminism", by becoming better and more efficient at the things we do - from www.realsimple.com:

31 Ideas for 31 Days
(I've removed some that I thought were irrelevant for our purposes)

1. Write a bona fide letter to someone who won’t expect it. Think of a person who really matters to you and recount one of your most hilarious moments together, thank her for guiding you through a difficult time, or just tell her that you want to get together more often.
2. Enlist everyone in the house, including the kids, to speed-clean one drawer. Set up a box for donations and another for trash.
3. Empty your e-mail in-box. Delete and file. If your entire in-box is too overwhelming to tackle, focus on one day or one week of e-mails first.
4. Take digital photos of all the valuables in one room for insurance purposes. Keep the photos in a folder with original receipts or estimated values and serial numbers or warranties.
5. Toss all the liquor bottles in your bar that are less than one-eighth full (like that 1989 crème de menthe). If there’s more than a cocktail’s worth, try out a new drink, such as a stinger or an Amaretto sour. (many of these things should be tossed before Passover, anyway)
6. Try one new food.
7. Donate to your favorite charity. There are so many great charities in Israel - there's also Israel National Radio (donate@israelnationalradio.com).
8. Send a year’s worth of blooms to yourself (or a loved one) through a floral site like http://www.calyxandcorolla.com/calyx.storefront/45897612000b4773271c0a00141505ca/Catalog/1008, where you can order cut flowers or plants delivered monthly (cost: about $30 to $50 a month). Of course, if you want to REALLY love yourself, send yourself roses from Israel - www.israelrose.com.
9. Buy a few lint rollers and hang one near every entrance to the house. No more frantic searching for the defuzzer at the last minute or getting caught in a meeting with Rover’s yellow hair all over your black dress. 10. Schedule a day off from work.
11. Program five essential numbers into your cell phone, like your doctor and your favorite take-out place, to avoid searching in address books and phone books for the same numbers again and again.
12. Swap music. Switch MP3 players with your spouse, child, or friend and listen to his or her favorite playlist. You’ll discover new artists, and you just might learn something about the person you swapped with. (Your macho husband likes ’N Sync?)
13. Clean your sink. Really clean it. First rinse it with very hot water. Then use a nonabrasive all-purpose cleanser (such as Bon Ami) to avoid scratching. “Gently and briskly rub with a damp sponge or cloth,” says Brian Sansoni, vice president of communication for the Soap and Detergent Association. Rinse and dry with a clean towel, then pour baking soda down the drain to reduce odors.
14. Make your own trail mix by combining the last bits of cereal, raisins, and nuts stashed in the rear of the cupboard. Try leftover Cheerios, pretzel pieces (including the salt at the bottom of the bag), almonds, and chocolate chips.
15. Create your own “Best of 2006” tally. With all those must-see, -read, and -hear lists popping up at the end of the year, it can be hard to keep track of what you wanted to check out.
16. Clear all expired food from the refrigerator.
17. Create a list of parties you think would be fun to throw this year. Then later you can pick one and make it happen. Come up with a fun theme, such as winter carnival, where couples or kids compete for the best snowman and play tug-of-war and snow soccer.
18. Restack nesting bowls and Tupperware. Match lids with bottoms and toss oddball items.
19. Make a short wish list of satisfying — and easily doable — “fun” resolutions for the coming year. Include things like visiting a museum you keep meaning to get to, saving for an overseas vacation, or making that Hot Chocolate Cake you saw in Real Simple.
20. Pare down cooking utensils and gadgets. Remove everything you don’t use regularly (the potato masher) so you don’t waste time hunting for the things that you do use every day (measuring spoons). Put the extra items in a different drawer, or in a clear bin in the pantry or under the sink.
21. Replace years-old pictures in frames (so long, bad highlights) with new ones (hello, fabulous bob).
22. Memorize a short poem (or an expression from Ethics of Our Fathers!).
24. Flip through the holiday cards you received. You were harried enough just opening the mail through the season. Take 15 minutes to reread Uncle Dan’s family letter and marvel (again) at how much little Will has grown in just one year.
25. Put a few sturdy glasses in the freezer and store them there. Frosty mugs make iced tea, root beer, lager — even water with lemon — taste better.
26. Check the oil in your car.
27. Tighten those loose screws. Take your 15 minutes and walk through the house with a screwdriver. Tighten cabinets, door pulls — anything that has a screw loose. (No, not your husband.)
28. Cut up fruit and freeze it for smoothies. It’s the perfect use for produce that is almost past its prime.
29. Remove the wax from your candle holders and change the candles.
30. Jot down 15 places you’d like to visit in the next 15 years. Whether it’s the Swiss Alps or the Southwest’s Monument Valley, when you’re planning your next vacation, you can pull out your list and get reinspired. (I hope most of those places will be in the Land of Israel!)
31. Grab a power nap. “Even 5 or 10 minutes can make a difference,” says Chris Drake, a senior scientist at the Henry Ford Hospital Sleep Disorders and Research Center, in Detroit.