Rebbetzin Rachel Verbov earned a master’s degree in Jewish History from Touro College. She has been teaching in seminaries in Israel for 19 years and was the Assistant Principal of Afikei Torah Seminary in Yerushalayim. She is the editor of the Jewish Woman’s Organizer, a Personal Life Coach, and a Kallah teacher. Rachel gives Taharas Hamishpacha Refresher Courses and Coaching Workshops on Self-Awareness & Shalom Bayis. She lives in Beitar Illit with her family.

I am a city girl, born and bred on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. Growing up, there were no farmers on the entire island. Harvest? What’s that?

This summer, I took my kids to England to visit my in-laws. My mother-in-law is the proud farmer of what she calls her ‘allotment’. She plants her seeds with great planning and care. My kids treasure their time digging and collecting potatoes and onions with Grandma which we all then enjoy for dinner!

A harvest is a crop or produce. Let’s ask ourselves, “What have we produced this year?” What is our yield? Which values have we lived by and what kind of results did they bear?

Let’s say we value honesty, do we pay the amount agreed upon or do we find excuses not to pay in full? (Tuition, shul membership, worker’s fees) Let’s take another example, if we value emunah, do we express our faith through daily tefillos or do we dwell for long periods on our doubts? Say we value relationships, are we nurturing them? because they don’t develop by themselves. Do we call our Bubby every Erev Shabbos? Really listen to a friend who is in distress, and buy our mother her favorite chocolate bar on Mother’s Day?

Everything we do reaps a result. A more focused and thought out lifestyle can achieve the results we are aiming for. When we take the time out to leave the noise of our daily routine and check-in to our ‘succah’ of inner life and explore our true self stripped of the noise and graffiti of the world, we can discover our personal path and boldly plant our year according to our true wishes.

Chag Sameach! And may you all be wonderful farmers and reap lots of produce!

A Short Inspiring Story: How Much Hashem Loves Us!!

A beautiful and touching story that will give us much to think about. The story was told over by Rav Go’el Elkarif who said he heard it from the person to whom it happened.

There is a fellow who owns a jewelry store in Eretz Yisroel. One day, not long ago a nine year old girl walked into the store and said, “I am here to buy a bracelet”. She looks through the glass cases and points to a bracelet that was three or four thousand dollars. The man behind the counter asked her, “You want to buy that bracelet?” And she says, “Yes”. He says, “Wow, you have very good taste. Who do you want to buy it for?” She says, “For my older sister”. He says, “Oh that is so nice! Why do you want to buy your older sister this bracelet?” The little girl says, “Because I don’t have a mother or father, and my older sister takes care of us. So we want to buy her a present, and I’m willing to pay for it”. She pulls out of her pocket a whole bunch of coins that totaled seven shekel, eighty agurot, which is a little less than two dollars. The fellow says, “Wow! That’s exactly what the bracelet costs”. He wraps up the bracelet and says, “You write a card to your sister while I wrap the bracelet”. In a short amount of time, he finishes wrapping the bracelet, he wipes away his tears, and hands the little girl the bracelet.

A few hours later the older sister comes in and says” I’m terribly embarrassed. My sister should not have come here. She shouldn’t have taken it without paying.” He says to her, “What are you talking about?” She says, “What do you mean? This bracelet costs thousands of dollars. My little sister doesn’t have thousands of dollars, she doesn’t even have ten dollars. So she obviously didn’t pay for it”. The fellow who owns the jewelry store says, “You couldn’t be more wrong. She paid me in full. She paid seven shekel, eighty agurot, and a broken heart. I want to tell you something. I am an alman, I lost my wife a number of years ago. People come into my store every single day. They come in and buy expensive pieces of jewelry, but all these people can afford it. When your sister walked in, for the first time in so very long since my wife had died, I once again felt what love means”. He gave her the bracelet and wished her well.

Says, Rav Go’el Elkarif, we come to the Ribono Shel Olam and we want to buy something very expensive. We want to buy life, but we cannot afford it. We don’t have the money to pay for it. We don’t have the zechusim. So we come to the Ribono Shel Olam and we empty our pockets, with what? A kabbalah here and a kabbalah there; I’ll keep cholov yisroel during the Asrers Yimei Teshuva, I’ll keep pas yisroel like the Mishnah Brura says, I’ll pick up the phone and call someone who is lonely, I wil learn an extra five minutes mussar, I will be kind, I won’t speak lashon harah for two hours; something small. The Ribono Shel Olam says, “Oh, you don’t know how long it’s been since I’ve felt what love means”. The Ribono Shel Olam sees how much we are willing to do, how much we love him, and he says, “You know what? You have touched my heart. Here it is, paid in full”.

Teshuva Tip and Insight!

Mrs. Chana Silver is a popular teacher of varied subjects at several seminaries in Jerusalem, as well as a lecturer for Aish Hatorah’s Discovery Programs and Ner L’elef Kiruv Training. She has 30 years experience in education and kiruv. She has worked with, taught, and counseled teens, troubled teens, and young adults for many years. She has lectured round the world to many different types of people on a variety of topics. She is a crises intervention counselor as well as the head tour leader for Legacy/ Nesivos trips to Poland and Eastern Europe. She is the site manager/coordinator as well as the author of the column ‘Dear Chana’ on the site She is a dating mentor, and a marriage adviser to couples.

Originally from Memphis, Tennessee, Mrs. Silver now lives in Jerusalem with her husband and children. With her warm Southern charm and positive outlook, She has a unique way of taking vital, pertinent issues and fusing them with classic Torah hashkafa, contemporary ideas, and psychology, to produce a down to earth, focused, and realistic approach to the challenges that we face today.

Rabbeinu Yona tells us that a person should look at him/herself as a

Tzir Ne’eman – A Faithful Ambassador.

A Loyal Emissary of GD.


Each one of us is on a Mission From GD.
He Manifests Within Us
We are an Extension of Him.

We are Totally Intertwined!

Our Job: To spread Malchus and Kavod Shamayim
To Live Our Lives – Being A Living Breathing Kiddush Hashem.

What does this mean?

We must be Loyal, Dependable, Devoted Agents of Hashem.

We must be Conscienctious Envoys of GD, in every way!

Everything we do – EVERYTHING WE DO, counts and matters!

We Must Speak and Act in Ways that Personify Him, in all we do, with everyone we come in contact with.

A Faithful Ambassador has an Outstanding Relationship with his King/ President = Mitzvos Bein Adam L’Makom

A Faithful Ambassador has a Superb Relationship with the people he/she is around = Mitzvos Bein Adam L’Chaveiro.

Teshuva is repairing and starting fresh in these areas.


Now is the time


Improve What Needs Sprucing up!- Because YOU are an Important Someone!

A Faithful Ambassador would do whatever he/she needs to do because Their job depends on it!

So Does Yours! See Yourself as the Extraordinary Neshama that you are!

YOU have a Life in this World to Live – and YOU Stand To Gain Eternity!!

There is a lot at stake – because your job is a big one!


(Part I) Yom Kippur – Rejoicing (?) With Affliction

Rabbi Hadar Margolin teaches in many seminaries in Yerushalayim.
The main focus of his classes is – how to attain more simcha.
He has also authored several books on the topic.
Rabbi Margolin in collaboration with Rabbi Dovid Orlofsky has produced
the “Simcha Course” –
a lecture series on “Simcha”, with practical guidance on growing in this most crucial middah.
To see more on this, please click here.

I was but a young lad, perhaps 16 years of age, when I saw something in shul that changed my Yom Kippur experience of that year. The insight of the Yesod Veshoresh Ha’avodah that some anonymous fellow had hung up on the wall has continued to transform every Yom Kippur of mine since.
How do people approach YK? Let’s face it, it’s a difficult day. No eating or drinking for 24 hours is physically demanding. The Torah itself calls it a day of עינוי (affliction). Certainly, it would seem, NOT something to look forward to, or to rejoice with. No need to elaborate; everyone who has experienced a YK knows what I’m talking about.
A simple insight of the Yesod Veshoresh Ha’avodah changed this perspective.
He writes, that a person should rejoice with the difficulty.
Because it’s hard.
Because a person gets more reward for doing a mitzvah when it’s a challenge, when he has to overcome difficulty.
Because Hashem cherishes especially those who do mitzvos when they have to contend with hardship.
After all, how many chances do we have during the year to do a mitzvah that is really hard? Such an opportunity, when we have it, should be treasured!
Further, he says: the more difficult it gets, the more pleasure Hashem gets from us; hence, the more one should rejoice! Towards the end of the day, when it starts to get really tough, one should think: I wish this could continue another few hours! (P.S. is that what you were thinking last year?)
Now, the ironical insight:
Two people standing near each other in shul, late afternoon of YK. One is looking at his watch ticking the minutes ever so slowly, thinking: “when will it be over already?” The other one is with a heart full of simcha, grateful for the experience he is privileged having. Which one of them will end up eating first?
The answer is illuminating – neither. They’re in the same shul, finishing together.
The only difference is, that one has had a grudging approach to YK, and the other has had a wonderful spiritual experience, and is fulfilling the mitzvah in its full grandeur – בשמחה ובטוב לבב, with tremendous simcha and gratitude. And, of course, with much more reward from Hashem.
Which type of YK experience would you like to have?

Iyar 5775 – Weighty Matters – Part I

Dear Chana,

I am a twenty years old and I was thinking of starting to date. I was appalled when numerous people informed me that I shouldn’t bother because I am somewhat overweight. I was told that guys have so many options in dating that they automatically discard anyone who is heavy. I find this quite disturbing. Is it true that all guys are so totally into a girls looks and weight? Should I really put off dating until I fit into the standards of society? [pun intended!]

Thanks in advance for the clarity that I know your answer will bring!

Name and seminary withheld upon request

Dear JemSem Reader,

Thank you for bringing this question to the forefront! This is a topic that is not usually discussed openly, and I am happy that you have asked it. The issue of weight is a delicate and sensitive one whether it has to do with dating or not.

I would like to first discuss weight as a health issue from a practical and hashkafa perspective. G-d willing I will discuss the ramification of shidduchim in next months [Tishrei} JemSem issue.

Our challenge is to find a healthy balance when it comes to taking care of our weight. On the one hand, a fixation with thinness can be not only unhealthy but
dangerous. Worshipping the gods of thinness can lead to anorexia and bulimia. These are serious diseases that if gone unchecked can be fatal.  On the other hand, eating obsessively leads to obesity and a host of health issues. The solution is obvious –  a person must find a healthy balance for herself. In practice this is not easy. The first steps we must take is to learn how to be healthy with balanced nutrition and excercise. This involves reading the right material [there is
so much information today on these topics!] and perhaps going to a nutritionist. The second step is to have the willpower to follow through with what we have learned. This means to follow the diet that fits our lifestyle and get to aerobic, kickboxing, step, taebo, strength training, body sculping, zumba, circuit training classes. Do what you enjoy, and learn to have fun with it, but the key idea is to get out there and move!

I would like to stress that this is a halachik issue and not just an issue of health and aesthetics. The Torah commands “V’nishmartem me’od l’nafshoseichem” [Devarim 4-15]. We are obligated to guard the amazing life and the wonderous body that Hashem has so graciously given us.

The Rambam in Hilchos Dei’os devotes a whole  perek to food, what to eat and what not to eat. He says that most types of illness are caused by eating either the wrong foods or eating too much in general. Furthermore, the Rambam also informs us in Hilchos Dei’os that we are obligated ” laida es Hashem” – to know Hashem in every way possible – even outside the realm of mitzvos. In other words, there is a way to connect to Hashem all of the time, no matter what we are doing. This is hashkafically intuitive. We  only live a limited amount of time on this earth and there must be a way to continuously be building a relationship with Hashem.

Hence the obligation to be healthy. Through getting the right amount of sleep, eating right and excercising – we will be able to serve Hashem all the time
to the best of our abilities. We will feel good, feel more fit, and be able to take care of the wonderful gift of our body that Hashem has loaned us. It will also add to our self esteem and happiness. It is really a terrifically special feeling to know that you are helping yourself to be as healthy as possible.

So being a couch potato and eating badly doesn’t help anyone physically or emotionally and is in a sense antithetical to Torah. Food for thought!

To be continued next month with this topic connected to shidduchim…………

With Warmest Wishes,