By Yedida Wolfe
“We are packed too tight to breathe, but nobody minds. The only thing that matters—which is of the greatest urgency—is to be able to see the Rebbe during tekios, blowing the shofar, those holy tekios!”
In the upcoming Tishrei issue of N’shei Chabad Newsletter (www.nsheichabadnewsletter.com), Mrs. Leah Namdar, now a Shlucha in Gothenburg, Sweden, remembers her first Tishrei in 770 in 1982 when she was 13 years old.
There’s an inyan, says Mrs. Namdar, to look at the face of the baal tokeia after tekios. “It was said in 770 that if you see the Rebbe’s face after tekios, mochlin al kol avonosov—all your sins are forgiven…One thing is sure—after seeing the Rebbe’s face, who would want to sin again?”
And yet, despite our good intentions, perfection remains out of reach for most of us humans. Menucha Cooper shares her perspective on this topic in a powerful article about her special-needs son, Mendy.
Her son’s diagnosis has made her think about “how often we use the word perfect to describe something or someone. It just rolls off our tongues.” But her son’s condition has shifted her perspective. Cooper writes, “Let’s drop our campaign to achieve perfection, and strive instead for improvement and for excellence in what’s important. Let’s hold our heads high and be proud of who we are while striving, and not let words like perfection affect us.”
Rishe Deitsch, senior editor of the N’shei Chabad Newsletter, told COLlive that she was deeply affected by Menucha Cooper’s story. “Listening to her talk about perfection, I realized how right she is, and how often we use that word, not to our own advantage. The perfect sheitel. The perfect house. The perfect match. The perfect couch, job, mother-in-law, son, daughter, fit! It’s not attainable and we just drive ourselves crazy if we believe that we need it to be perfect or we can’t be happy.”
When well-meaning friends and relatives ask Menucha Cooper to describe the symptoms of her son’s condition, she is reluctant to answer, because who says her son will have those symptoms? “When a doctor tells us that 90 percent of children with Angelman Syndrome will have epilepsy, we remind him that 10 percent won’t.”
The Rebbe once wrote to a person facing a painful prognosis, “With regard to a particular situation—it is impossible to know clearly and with certainty [about the eventual outcome]. Clearly, the pronouncement of the doctor that the situation is hopeless is out of place. At the very most he can say—and indeed this is all that a human being is capable of saying—that he does not take responsibility for the future, but he can say no more than that.” (Igros Kodesh, Vol. XX, p. 183)
Menucha Cooper has found strength in the Tzemach Tzedek’s famous words “Tracht gut vet zein gut.” For Cooper this phrase has come to signify that “our thoughts have enormous impact in creating, changing, and shaping our reality,” as Chassidus teaches.
In response to the Tracht gut vet zein gut supplement in the Pesach issue of the N’shei Chabad Newsletter, one reader, R.L., shares how she overcame her fears, both big and small. “Finally, I took control. I stopped going on Facebook and all news sites other than COLlive.com, and I started taking flower essences from Mrs. Tamar Adelstein of Crown Heights. But most crucially, I reviewed the idea of bitachon, over and over again.”
She concludes, “The most important thing for me to study on this topic was the Rebbe’s sichah about Tracht gut vet zein gut.” Reading the book Subbota, which recounts the story of Reb Lazer Nanes in Soviet Russia, also helped to build her bitachon.
And yet we still have to manage the here and now. Elchanan Geisinsky advises baby boomers how to maximize their “well-deserved Social Security retirement benefits.” He writes, “For married couples, the decision can be very complicated because of the myriad choices available. This is important because the right choice now can result in many additional tens of thousands of dollars over the lifetime of a couple. By coordinating worker, spousal, and survivor benefits, the total collected will be maximized.” By defining the government terms and costs and benefits of the various options, Elchanan Geisinsky ensures baby boomers will reap their reward after “decades of toil, tears, and sweat.”
Click here to download “Tracht Gut Vet Zein Gut” supplement
Visit our website www.nsheichabadnewsletter.com to subscribe today, in time to receive your Tishrei issue in the mail. The Tishrei issue will also be available for purchase in Crown Heights stores right before Rosh Hashanah, or for download in the Apple App Store or at Amazon.com. Watch COLlive for more highlights of the Tishrei issue, coming soon.