Translation by Yehoshua Siskin
In reaction to a virtual Mitchadshot (Women's Renewal) workshop held yesterday that featured Na'ama Avishai, it was interesting to note how many women wrote to me via chat wondering if I had listened well to her message. Na'ama is a Chabad emissary in Kaluga, Russia. Among her many tips, she emphasized the importance of establishing a set of priorities:
"People think that Chabad emissaries live with total dedication to their communities. This is not accurate. They live in total dedication to their children and families and only then engage in community work. This is an important distinction for every one of us to make, no matter what we are doing, no matter where we are.
It's impossible to be actively initiating, organizing, and promoting all day long every day. We must allow ourselves moments when we simply say 'stop'. In our family, for example, we make sure to celebrate each child's birthday alone at home and we occasionally enjoy Shabbat meals by ourselves exclusively. It's not right to just give and give, and then by the end of the day feel like a dishrag, collapsing on the sofa.
After the major holidays - Hanukkah, Pesach, and Sukkot - for which we work day and night on behalf of the Jews of our city, we take a two-day vacation trip to Moscow with the children.
The Lubavitcher Rebbe made it a daily habit to sit with his wife and drink a cup of tea. He said that this was a holy commitment and he would no more give it up than he would give up putting on tefillin.
Quality time is not only meant for family but also for ourselves personally. I sometimes decide to go out on my own for an hour and make no excuses for doing so. If we know how to give to the entire world, we also need to know how to give to ourselves."
Thanks to Naama for this important reminder, especially when the famous blessing given to the Nation of Israel appears in the weekly Torah portion. It is a blessing that has symbolized the importance of the tent, the home, in the life of our people for thousands of years: "How lovely are your tents, O Jacob, your dwelling places, O Israel."
May it be Thy will that this blessing shall prevail in each and every one of our tents.