Stretch Stories in Personal Growth

From Participants in Ahavas Yisroel Chaburas

After living in NYC for 20+ yrs. w/o a car, I simply stopped having the desire to drive. The idea of getting lost (I have NO sense of direction) and going onto a highway became so frightening for me that I ended up avoiding it for many years—at all costs—thereby establishing a full-blown phobia. So when I moved out of town, I re-learned to drive—but only within my own small community.

My husband recently needed to take his car to a garage about 10 miles away. He needed me to follow him in my car so he get could get home—and said he would also need me to drive out with him again a few days later to get the car back, and then of course, to follow him home. I said I couldn’t, he said he really had no choice but to rely on me, and that I could

I have never had a panic attack before, but I felt one coming on. I asked Hashem for guidance, and He told me to wonder what it might be like to stretch this much, for my husband. I thought: “My husband has done so much for me. I could just say “no” to this, but since I’m trying to stretch for others, I should manage to do this for my husband.” I said “okay.” I followed my husband to the garage, driving pretty aggressively in order to stay behind him, saying a 10-mile long prayer to keep Hashem close. When we got there, I cried and shook, the result of a panic attack kept under control. But also, from relief.

Then today, I drove back with him to pick up his car, and followed him home. Much more easily, and with unbelievable gratitude to Hashem, Who is smiling at me right now.


While I was walking down the street on Shabbas accompanied by an older person, I noticed a small, adorable, blond haired toddler just seemingly milling around, possibly unsupervised. I said to the older person, "Do you see an adult around." She said that she did. I was hoping she was right, but I was fairly sure that I did not see anyone. With some hesitation I decided to cross the street and look a more closely. No, as I thought, no adult was in sight. The child toddled in front of me as I approached the door of the house. The storm door was opened but the main door was shut. I knocked. No one seemed to be answering. I thought, "Is this even the right house?" I turned the knob. No this door is locked. I said to myself, "What is going on?" Finally after some more loud knocking, the door opened, and there I stood with the child. The woman seemed very surprised that her small child was standing there with me. She had not even realized he was MISSING!! I had been nervous about this being a non-Jewish neighbor that would berate me for interfering. It turned out to be frum people. I was in shock. They were grateful of course. I was very concerned that they had not even noticed that the child was missing. The mother said, "He must have followed his older sibling out when he went out to visit a friend." I did not even think to ask how long ago that was. However, I wanted to try to emphasize to the mother how serious an oversight this was. Of course she must have known but, I felt I had to try to say something. I was beginning to tell her of how the same thing happened to someone else, with catastrophic results. She interrupted me saying she did not want to hear. I held my tongue. I pray that she will be more vigilant about watching her child.

Although of course I did the, "right thing," it was a stretch for me to interfere. I feel that it was obviously hashgach pratit that I was there at that moment to possibly save that child


Someone I love disappointed me, did not do something that they were obliged to do. The way I found out was through a third party, and I confirmed with the person that indeed what had been expected did not get done.

I had two reactions, the disappointment toward the person who fell short. But I also had a reaction from the El Zar – that the reason the person fell short was not because of not reaching the expectations, but rather because the ones reporting on the expectation having been reached had been influenced by those wanting to sabotage the progress of the person in whom I was now disappointed and criminalized and framed one small imperfection to say that there was failure. Realizing how baseless that was, I immediately dismissed it, knowing that the person did, in fact, have the failing mentioned. My yetzer hara gave me no rest though. It recalled this word and that look and some gesture of the ones I suspected might have sabotaged the person and had motive to frame and attack. It told me that these friends were working in a group to make their point, to continue to attack and destroy the person in question, so that their way of thinking, loyal to the El Zar (my accusation of them), would prevail.

I sat with that painting that the yetzer hara gave to me and said that I have behira, free will and bitachon, trust in Hashem. And with my free will, I choose Hashem and that everything Hashem sends is good. This took away the power of those I suspected, even if it were true. I still needed to go a step further though. I needed to love them, even if it were true, because this is the constant taunting of my yetzer hara and it had to be silenced within my perceptions. I chose to see that we are all one and that if I condemn them for creating an El Zar it is because I am tempted toward the El Zar, and that healing the El Zar within me is the avodah. This led me to dismiss my suspicions because I choose Hashem and following the other line of thinking would lead me, chas v’chalilah, to actions that would involve me with the El Zar, either believing my own yetzer hara or battling others overcome by it, a useless cause. I decided that even if it were true, the best way to overcome it is by clinging to Hashem and building my inner world based on standing in front of Hashem. If they were following the El Zar, perhaps my avodah of bitachon would somehow reveal something that would help.

That night I spoke to a trustworthy source who coincidentally verified how the person who told me that the expectations of the person did not get met (I did not have to even ask my suspicious question – the answer came out from Hashem). It had nothing to do with my fearful thoughts. I breathed a sigh of relief and thanked Hashem for sending me this supportive message so that I felt affirmed by Hashem in my choice and that He took away the horrible painting of the yetzer hara from me by giving me something concrete, took away the doubt, the lack.


I am basically a shy person. Someone I know told me about a women’s health care related program at a non-Orthodox place of worship and asked me if I wanted to go. I was not so interested in the topic, but in my mind, I was hearing non-Orthodox – Ahavas Yisroel, non-Orthodox—Ahavas Yisroel and I couldn’t exactly put it together so I told her I would think about it and call her back. In a few minutes I realized that this would be an opportunity for me to start a Project Unity oriented activity. I truly believe that in these times, Jewish women of all denominations need to unite. So, I called her back and said I would come, but now what?

I made a flyer inviting them to come to my home. I knew that I would not be doing learning or anything with them, that I just wanted them to come and together we would think of a community project that we could all do together as a statement of unity. At that time I did not think of a specific project.

That night I went to the event and there were about 25 to 30 Jewish women there of all ages. I had the flyers, but how was I going to give them out? I asked the woman seemingly in charge if I could and she said yes, but at the end. So I stayed and participated in the presentation on the health issue, and I learned a great deal. Most of the women there were involved with the health concern either having suffered from it or concerned about suffering from it. The group was warm, committed, friendly and intelligent. One of the women was the leader of the congregation so, out of respect to her, I asked her permission to hand out the flyers, briefly explaining what it was, a desire to build an interdenominational Jewish women’s project as a statement of unity, and she gave me permission. When the event was over, it was time to hand out the flyers.

Being shy, this became the hardest part! So I gave the flyers to the woman who organized it and she gave some of them out, until I realized that she probably wanted to discuss the topic of the meeting with the attendees (she put the flyers down.) So now was my personal stretch – I picked up the flyers and personally handed them to the attendees and invited them to my home. I have no idea if anyone will come – and no one has called to say they will come. Nevertheless, I felt that I stretched in Ahavas Yisroel and hope that I did it in a manner that was pleasing to HaKodosh Baruch Hu. And if so, may it be a merit for all of Klal Yisroel.


I do some office work for someone out of their home. It is at best 3 or 4 hours a week and I had been doing it on a volunteer basis. The person (we will call her Devorah) is highly successful and highly regarded and the work she does benefits Jewish people. As a result, it is a pleasure to help her. At some point she decided that she wanted to pay me. I was hesitant to accept because this usually changes relationships, but she was insistent and so she began paying me. Our personalities are very different. Some people need to ventilate and say negative things about people in order to feel better and some don’t. When I would work with her and hear such talk, it made me very uncomfortable because all the people involved were Jewish and I began to see that she was wavering in her knowing there is a Hashem and in her realizing that what we say matters, and tried to speak to her a little about this, to which she seemed receptive. This became a difference that I forgot about and a few weeks went by and she did not call with work to do. I bumped into her and there was a different chemistry, although she tried to recover and was polite and sweet as usual after the initial bump.

Having forgotten what I had noticed and what we had spoken about, I had been giving the benefit of the doubt and fighting off lower feelings of why she wasn’t calling – feeling as though I was being rejected for no known reason. However, I gave the benefit of the doubt that she was very busy. Then she called and wanted me to show her how I do what I do, so that others could do it instead, and I showed her, but it involves a great deal of computer knowledge of programs that I have acquired to do the system that I had set up for her, not so easy to teach someone else. I said that I would sit with someone and show them how, no problem. At that point she said no, that I do a good job and could I do it and I said yes. I went home and I had such lowered feelings, my imagination was on fire and the yetzer hara was in full swing. I didn’t remember that perhaps I had caused her pain by discussing Hashem. Instead, I was feeling very low. Not wanting to go to my next activity like that, I called her back and said that if she would like someone to sit with me, that would be fine, that I am committed to helping her in the manner that is most comfortable to her. She then asked if she had hurt my feelings and I said yes, that it was pretty painful. She said she was sorry for that, and gave a reason of trying to save money with someone else.

I did not understand yet so what I did was realize that these lower feelings of rejection for no reason were the yetzer hara, that this is from Hashem Himself for my personal growth and development. The negative thinking and condemnations of myself and Devorah were definitely unwelcome in the Ahavas Yisroel way of thinking and because I am involved with this program, I realized it in that context and I chose to do this with it… I said Hashem, instead of thinking how all of this affects me and feeling badly and condemning Devorah in my mind, I choose to love her and forgive her and if I can truly do that, perhaps You Hashem, could love and forgive the Jewish people for all of our averahs and send the Moshiach. It was thinking that if I could emulate what I want Hashem to do for the Jewish people, then perhaps that would bring the energy into the world that Hashem desires in order for Him to bring the geulah that has made me feel better.

It was only after that uplifting thought which calmed me that I remembered that she may truly not like to be around me because of conversation we had about faith and the importance of words- I realized my lower feelings of rejection for no reason may have valid reason in her mind. I truly may have made her uncomfortable to be with. Yet that is not the reason that she raised, so I cannot assume it was that. Instead what I did was return to doing the work on a volunteer basis, in the hope that this would restore the friendship and reassure her of the fondness I feel for her and for what she does.


I would like to connect more with people, especially Jewish people,but am generally shy and so, instead, I will often act as if I don't notice them, i.e. I am just going about my own business. This week, after the first chabura, I decided to try to reach out more with a smile and a greeting. Although it is difficult, and against my nature, I was able to smile and say "hi" a few times when I otherwise would not have. I feel strongly that increasing the number of small acts of kindness among Yidden will encourage the hastening of Moshiach's arrival.


At wedding at the chupah and just before, we all know that it is a particularly auspicious time. I was at a wedding recently where I had not seen many friends who were there in a long time. It is only natural to try to catch up with them. It is a joy to be at a simcha, and it only compounds the joy to see old friends.

Well, I try very hard in general to say tehillim and those special "yehee raton" prayers for refuahs, and shidduchim etc. I try to have that override my socializing. At this particular wedding it was very difficult to do so. However, because I am participating in an Ahavas Yisrael chaburah, "try to stretch yourself," and I was able to make the somewhat abrupt decision to politely end the chit chat, and say some tehillim. As ever, in those situations, the tehillim are particularly meaningful to me and I feel that I am able to say them with added heartfelt kavanah (intention.)


I have been trying to learn a little extra to support my efforts in Ahavas Yisrael--a little stretch. Thus, I have been listening to some inspiring shiurim from Naaleh on Shmeeras Halashon (The laws of proper speech.) In one of the shiurim the magid shiur was explaining that if we can cultivate simchas hachaim, joie de vivre, then we track positives, and have less of a chance of looking at people and their behavior negatively. I happen to be grocery shopping and I saw a produce worker who I have seen before. I try to be courteous and pleasant because I am trying to behave like a mentch. I happen to ask, "How's it going." He responded, "Ah, not so good." So I said to him, "I am sorry to hear that." He responded, "Thanks." I said, "G-d willing things will be better." I am essential certain that the man is not Jewish. However, to me it seems that a logical part of Ahavas Yisrael is developing the habit of being kind to everyone one encounters. As we discussed in our group, this is a kiddish HaShem, a sanctification of G-d's name. We work on interacting with all people with goodness to value and validate the fact that all of us are created in G-d's image. This then has the effect of making us more likely to act kindly to our fellow Jew.


I practically forgot about the chaburah meeting. I was going to go to sleep early. I was tired, hungry and in "no mood." Well, I felt that the group was counting on everyone to come. So, I got a quick bite, and was ready to go when I realized I could not locate a key to lock up the house, additionally I had let someone else in the family take the car because I thought I did not need it. The yetzer harah seemed to being putting every stumbling block in my way. Then I decided, I will just close the door using the keyless lock, and walk over. Just then the family member returned with the car! Amazing, when I wanted to do a mitzvah and I pushed back against the yetzer harah, I won. Not only that, although I had a victory, I was still in a bit of a negative mood, and a little resentful to have to go to this meeting. However, I stretched my self by deciding to go, and enter with a smile, even though it was only partly sincere. I learned, and now got to apply the concept that my face is "public property." Therefore, sometimes I just have to put on a smile. The result was that my tiredness was overcome by the uplifting content of the group, and I was very happy that I pushed myself to attend.


We live in an orthodox neighborhood, and there is a local secular supermarket where the whole neighborhood shops. The store's employees are primarily non-Jews and I often wonder what their impression of us is--unfortunately after one of us does not show their best side. I go in fairly often and smile to everyone, and say hi to those who I see on a regular basis. There is a manager of the fruit and vegetable section who has been so nice, friendly and helpful since they opened a few years ago. In the merit of Ahavas Yisroel I made the effort and went over to him and said, "You're always so nice," and I offered him my name. "What is your name?" He told me and we both at the same time said "like in the Bible!" It turns out he is a religious Christian, and he and his wife are looking for another name from the Bible to name their expected child. Each time I see him, it gives me so much joy to say hello to him and use his name, and I feel he has had a positive interaction with a religious Jew and maybe will now see us as less monolithic and more as individuals.


I always say hello to most people I pass on the way to shul (Jewish and non-Jewish), and to most people once I'm in shul (although it is usually only to those people I am friendly with. In the spirit of Ahavas Yisroel, last week I acted differently. I said a very bright and cheerful "Good Shabbos" to every Jew I passed on the way; a hearty "Good Morning!" to everyone else I saw on the street (and I know this also includes non-religious Jews); and a hearty "Good Shabbos!" with a big smile to everyone I encountered in shul. I felt great and I know the recipients felt great too.


I am an extremely private person and I never speak out in a public session. In the spirit of Ahavas Yisroel and for a refuah for Klal Yisroel I shared my growth stories with strangers, and spoke out in the chabura. This was probably the biggest "stretch" of the week--I really felt my discomfort after--but this is important work. I feel by talking I also enabled others to feel comfortable to do the same.


I have a hard time saying hello to people and because of the Ahavas Yisroel chabura I decided I would try to smile and say hello to people. In the local grocery store which is not Jewishly owned but serves a large Jewish community, there is a produce man who works diligently there every day. It occurred to me to wonder what impression our community has on the people in the store. I saw the man in the store one morning and I went up to him and I said hello and I said may I know your name? He told me his name and I told him mine and now when I see him in the store I can give him a personal greeting and the trip to the store is a much warmer experience.


I have a hard time being the first to greet people. I know it doesn’t seem that way but it is. I often see people talking in the store or around and I have a hard time going up to them and saying hello. That isn’t me. But I did try very hard to smile and say hello to people that I met this week.


My feeling about greeting people is that we should also greet non-Jewish people warmly too. Those behind the counter and those that we meet. I made a special effort to be open and greet people warmly this week.

I would like to connect more with people, especially Jewish people,but am generally shy and so, instead, I will often act as if I don't notice them, i.e. I am just going about my own business. This week, after the first chabura, I decided to try to reach out more with a smile and a greeting. Although it is difficult, and against my nature, I was able to smile and say "hi" a few times when I otherwise would not have. I feel strongly that increasing the number of small acts of kindness among Yidden will encourage the hastening of Moshiach's arrival.


A close-knit group of friends, who have been friends since high school, go out to lunch once a week for many years. Recently they had one girl who would like to tag along and they were not so interested in having her join for several reasons, personality, not really part of the chevura. One of the girls in the group would avoid the call when she saw it on caller ID and they were not so interested. Two of these 4 girls are in the chabura and they realized that this is their stretch and they invited her. All of a sudden it hit her, why am I better, what makes me more exclusive than this girl who wants friends. It has been two or three weeks that they have been including her and they are proud of themselves and feel they have stretched.


A woman had a simcha in upstate NY. She was looking forward to it because it is a long ride and she wanted to spend time with her husband and she got a call to see if she was already giving someone else a ride. And the caller would only send her child along if there were already another passenger. The woman said there was no passenger but that she would take the child. The caller was so sensitive to the fact that the woman probably would have wanted time with her husband. The caller would not send the child out of sensitivity to the woman and the woman was so touched by the sincere ahava of the caller and her sensitivity. The caller did say that I am not sending my child because I would not do something to you that I would not want done to me.

A woman had bought a sheitl before Pesach and it wasn’t good and she put it aside and thought she would go back. She finally did two weeks after Shavuous. In addition, she went with a friend of hers, a new client for the sheitl macker. She told the sheitl macker (and there were others present) that the sheitl wasn’t good and that she wanted to return it and that she did not wear it all this time. Basically what happened was that the sheitl maker accused her of wearing, meaning that she accused her of lying, and she said it in a room full of people. The woman was embarrassed. She was about to retort back and the chabura came to mind and she thought ahavas yisroel. What do I do now? She just smiled, took the wig, and she walked out. She was inside very upset but she went home and vented privately with her husband and not in a public rude way. Two cute things came out of it. He suggested that she discuss it at her chabura. And he also pointed out to her that she criticized the sheitl macker in front of the same group. The sheitl maker might have been defensive because of that. The woman came to resolution after she thought about it.


I inadvertently blundered terribly. I failed to inform myself of certain rules of protocol and, as a result, I mishandled sharing some bad news which resulted in pain and shock to someone else (we will call her Chaya). I realized the pain that I had caused which was not avoidable at the time but I did not realize that I had violated a protocol which unbeknownst to me brought the bad news to a much higher painful level. And, had I followed the protocol, that additional shock and pain would have been avoided. I must add that the bad news was bad news for me too, and I felt sad for that. A few days later, Chaya’s friend called me and explained the protocol that I had violated. She expressed outrage with me and was, in fact, suggesting that I was deserving of very harsh treatment by others, to which I explained my ignorance and surely my lack of such ill intentions. I thanked her though for bringing the matter to my attention. Now I realized that I had to do teshuva for my blunder and seek mechila. I began my apologies by email to Chaya. No response. Over the course of a day, I sent conciliatory and information rich emails explaining why I conducted myself in the manner that I did and that the pain caused because I did not know the protocol was not intended. The third email I explained how besides myself I am that I could cause pain to anyone and that I was not going to stop asking for forgiveness until I received it.

I called back the friend to see if there had been an easing of the pain, but she did not answer. So, I called Chaya. She was pleasant but she did express her judgments and castigations. I apologized, explained specifically what I would have said differently had I known, and again asked mechila. She said she knew I was a good person and that was never in question, and that she had gotten a little upset. I told her I understood and that I would educate myself better about the protocol. She gave me mechila.


I did a shopping chesed for an elderly couple this morning and went to bring the item to them. As usual, we chatted for a few minutes and this time I began to tell them about the work I am doing every day to see only the good in every Jew. The woman immediately remarked “don’t tell me about loving Jews. My brother who is in business says we are all scoundrels!” (chas v’chalilah) to which her husband reprimanded her and started to say lashon Hara about the brother, that the reason he sees ill in others is because of his own way of thinking. He immediately stopped himself but the message was conveyed, to which I felt that I had to reply. So I shared with them both that it is not necessary for us to retain our judgment of the negative things we see because Hashem keeps the cheshbon. Rather, I said, just like one hand doesn’t hit the other, it is our responsibility to notice whatever good we can in every Jew and, like a beggar, share these good qualities with Hashem, say to Hashem look at the good quality of so and so, pleading with Hashem for all of our sake, for who of us does not have failings? Speaking up was the easy part.

When I left, I realized that whenever I have an insecure thought about a relationship, it is because deep down I am believing something negative about another Jew. If I am to be true to my word, of seeing the good in others, not only do I have to see the good in myself, but I have to say no to my own negative thinking about myself that stems from insecurity in relationships, because that insecurity is based on something that I now want to expel from my mind - a negative judgment of another Jew! I no longer wish to hold onto or operate from any negative thought about another Jew. Therefore, by refusing my own internal insecurities on that basis, not only do I heal my own ego and connect to Hashem from my higher self, but I also remove the negative judgment, the sina, that subconsciously is operating. I tried this throughout the day and it was difficult at times to dismiss. But my desire for achdus and to stretch in Ahavas Yisrael motivating me, so far I have been successful in maintaining a good frame of mind and as a result, I greeted people warmly, asked the new cashier at the kosher butcher, what her name is, listened caringly to a non-Jew about her parking ticket fight and more.

I believe that if I succeed in being a more secure person as a result, that I will be the first to benefit from this stretch in ahavas Yisroel but mostly I hope that it helps to build achdus and bring the geulah.


Our chabura decided to adopt the idea of greeting people warmly for every day of the week and to report back the next meeting. Being basically shy, I said hello to people but my smile was forced and I still was nervous. At first, I couldn’t really understand why I should force myself to say hello when I don’t really have a standard reason to talk to someone. So, I thought about what we are trying to do – to build achdus and I reasoned that if I have a place within me where Hashem resides and another person has a place within them that Hashem resides, then if I speak from my place to their place, then I have made a connection not only to the other person, but also to Hashem, because I am recognizing this aspect of myself and the other person, an aspect that we have in common that is Divinely given. This helped me quite a bit not only to speak to Jewish people, but to non-Jewish people – cashiers, customers on line, and more. By recognizing their aspect of holiness, I felt as though my sense of my own spirituality grew. I believe it made my day warmer and I hope it made others day a little warmer too.

From there, I took another step. That step was to have an ayin tov for people, even those who I know have wronged me or are lacking in various ways. I realized that if I harbor thoughts and encourage myself to be distant from such people (as long as they are not abusers) then I become “the District Attorney” prosecuting the Jewish people, with clear-cut proof of our faults and seeking a judgment of guilty. That judgment falls on all of us! So, by having an ayin tov, I decided I could be the defense counsel, pleading to Hashem to see the good in all of us. This has helped me to make the four inches between my ears a better neighborhood, even at times when outright actions are taking place that are hurting my feelings. I can look for the good and be the defense counsel rather than the D.A.


Some weeks ago, my father in law passed away, and my husband was sitting shiva. Dutifully, I set about calling our neighbors including those in our bungalow colony to notify them. Mentally, I walked down the block as well as the bungalow colony, as I called family by family. And then, I stopped short: The *“Shapiros”! (identifying details have been changed) . they weren’t people on any of our lists. Not Mishloach Manos. Not Mazel Tov calls. Not my daughter’s upcoming bat mitzvah list. Some five years ago, Mr. Shapiro had strongly insulted my husband in the course of a common altercation at the bungalow colony, and failed to apologize despite my husband’s request. Hard to explain, but that was the beginning of a very subtle but real cold war between their family and ours. (In the years following, they made some big simchas, to which we weren’t invited.)


Often, through the years, my conscience bugged me about doing away with this, but somehow I never found the right moment. Now, thinking about my father in law-a person who embraced every Jew—propelled me to clear the air finally. Afraid I’d lose my momentary resolve, I acted quickly. Hashem really helps when we make the first move! I called a mutual acquaintance, to arbitrate, telling Mr. Shapiro that we were looking to reconcile, that my husband was sitting shiva, and would welcome him at the Shiva home. He came to the shiva house only hours later! I also made another difficult move-calling Mrs. Shapiro directly and apologizing to her. We had a long, touching conversation, which ended most amicably. Peace at last! Now the grief of losing my father in law is at least softened and I can visualize him smiling at us in heaven. Even in his death, he fostered ahavas yisroel. May Mashiach redeem us and bring us eternal peace!


Ahavas Yisroel begins at home! At a recent Ahavas Yisroel Chabura, a guest speaker, Chava Friedman, board certified life coach, taught us some tools on forgiveness, a central element in Ahavas Yisroel. The lessons really helped me stave off an uncomfortable situation between my husband and me. We were discussing an issue, and my husband made an impulsive barb. Typically, my response would be to retreat into silence and sulk for too long. Instead, I responded in an even but assertive voice with “ouch, that hurts. I was just wondering why you said that? Certainly you wouldn’t make an intentional effort to derail our shalom bayis?” And that was that! He quickly clarified what he meant and we ended the discussion to our mutual satisfaction.

After participating in an Ahavas Yisroel chabura, I moved to a different state.This morning, Rosh Chodosh Nissan, 25 women (as opposed to 47 women Rosh Chodosh Adar) gathered in my condo in Florida to say brochos, Daven, sing Hallel together and hear an incredible Drosha by Rebbitzen Sara Friefeld. ( a little breakfast, too). This took place even though "the season" is basically over and most snowbirds have "flown" north! All who participated were inspired and happy. Even though, I will be "north" next Rosh Chodosh , and many more will as well,the group decided to continue. Great!


Motzai Shabbos my brother-in-law went to one of the local bagel shops and bought some bagels for Melava Malka. On Sunday afternoon there is a knock at the door. My brother-in-law explains that somone in his Yeshiva worked at the bagel store and overcharged him by mistake about $3-4 dollars and he came to return the money!

The next story is that my car was stuck in the beautiful snow. My 2 younger friends offered to clean the car. I went out about 20 minutes later and the entire car was clean!! I then told them that now since they helped clean my car I would give them a ride in my car to the local grocery so they can choose some special treat. They declined saying that this is a Chessed!! ( By the way, they are proud junior high- school students.)


One thing we are accomplishing as of this Purim....we will be sending shaloch manos packaged from our children to each child of a small community that has just come to settle nearby. They are pretty much all alone, no family connections, finances, etc....

So we're "reaching out" -- "From our community to yours, from our children to yours" (we'll be sending a shalach manos package to each family, as well, with the types of food & snacks they are familiar with).


One thing that I did, was sign up to get a text message (on the National Council of Young Israel website) whenever rockets are shot at southern Israel. I cannot explain the feeling of connectedness that I know have to the people living there. I now keep my cell phone with me at all times, I feel as if it is my life line, that it is my responsibility to stop and say tehillim when those rockets are shot. I know that during the 15 seconds that they have to react, I also have 15 seconds to react. To say tehillim and to plead with Hashem that everyone stay safe and that that should be the last rocket.


Our chabura started a program whereby newcomers are matched to established families. We signed up to be matched and through the program are welcoming a young couple. We only met them once and now she gave birth, so we are helping arrange meals, Shabbos, Shalom Zachor etc. It’s a wonderful idea. The chaburas are helping with suppers for her. WE ARE STRETCHING!!


The day after a Rosh Chodosh Adar gathering in my home, two women and I were taking our daily walk. One women was telling the other (who is not frum) about the previous day's event -how special it was, etc,- we both said that perhaps the next time she would come. A month later, I was walking with only the non-frum woman the day before Rosh Chodesh Nissan and I was thinking to myself if I should invite her since she would virtually know no one and might be uncomfortable. I decided to do it - I asked her to come in the morning, explaining that we would be praying in Hebrew - she said she would love to come - I suggested that she could read in English. That evening, I took a siddur and put sticky notes on the tefillas that we would be saying, writing on each whether we would be sitting or standing. In the morning she arrived appropriately dressed and smiling. I gave her the siddur, explaining my notations. There was not much time to talk as many people were arriving and we were beginning the brochos. She made herself comfortable and joined in with the group - I noticed that when we were saying Shmoneh Esrai, she too was standing and was really reading the words intently. She stayed for breakfast and I introduced her to several people. She was one of the last to leave, thanking me profusely. I'm not sure what effect this morning had on her, but I do know that it affected me and many other women positively!


Motzai Shabbos my brother-in-law went to one of the local bagel shops and bought some bagels for Melava Malka. On Sunday afternoon there is a knock at the door. My brother-in-law explains that someone in his Yeshiva worked at the bagel store and overcharged him by mistake about $3-4 dollars and he came to return the money!


My car was stuck in the beautiful snow. My 2 younger friends offered to clean the car. I went out about 20 minutes later and the entire car was clean!! I then told them that now since they helped clean my car I would give them a ride in my car to the local grocery so they can choose some special treat. They declined saying that this is a Chessed!! ( By the way, they are proud TAG junior high- school students.)


I had been feeling a little left out and neglected by a particular person, who is held in high regard within the small community in which I live. It was not the first time and in fact, overall I have been left out and somewhat ignored. Over the years I accepted it somewhat and built a lifestyle where being included was not totally crushing to my self-esteem.

Last week, this woman presented a talk to a group of women, many of whom have, as I have indicated, formed cliques and overlook me. During the talk, she asked for some research to be submitted during the week, certain quotes from Tanach - she asked that we email her. It was a good exercise and, as this person and I have been on appearances friendly and perhaps a little more at times, although my standing with this person overall is disconnected, as with this small group of women at large, I researched some quotes and got them to her. As I was doing so, because of the chaburas, I was examining my intentions very closely - am I doing this with ahavas yisroel? In truth I was feeling the years of snubbing and, buried in the quotes, were quotes that I kind of hoped would, in an indirect, gentle way, trigger some teshuva. I was aware of this but I continued, wondering what I was really doing. Was I being hateful? Was I offering rebuke, hoping the light of day would dawn as she saw this quote?

As I was delivering it, someone answered the door, and I smiled warmly and conveyed honest high praise and personal regard for the speaker only to hear that she had been feeling insecure about it because no one had given good feedback right away, and that my message and action were very appreciated. This was a relief, as it was a reassurance for me. I realized that moving my muscles to give her warm feedback, even if I doubted my own sincere intentions in this act of ahavas yisroel, had overall been quite a positive choice. I realized that she was feeling the same as I was - without the feedback, we question ourselves so very much and feel dejected, rejected and more. Our egos require positive feedback from others. Yet, what I realized is that if we can begin to shift some of this neediness from people to Hashem, even if we shift only a small fraction of it, we have true stability in our lives. I began to realize that people have egos, healthy or unhealthy, but we all have them. I had before that been thinking of myself as not egotistical. I would in my judgments condemn her and others like her, who clamor for control, power, honor, attention and more, as not humble at best and unspiritual on average and at worst, arrogant. Now I realized that being insecure is a form of egotism - immature egotism, but egotism nevertheless. I didn't get the inclusion or honor that I wanted so I am going to sulk, condemn, feel left out, etc. Seeing this person, who prides herself as having a healthy ego, who succeeds at pursuing what she wants feeling the same way that I was feeling was the eye opener - here she is, this accomplished person, in the same gutter that I am in at the same moment. We all desire connection and love.

She called me later that day to invite my further participation. I think perhaps in doing a gesture of ahavas yisroel toward her, in giving the warm compliment and taking the desired action that she requested, I did even more ahavas yisroel for myself because I realize that when I behave in a manner that respects myself for the tzelem elokim that Hashem has given me, no matter how I feel I may have been treated, I can rise above my lower self's dependence on other people for self-esteem by realizing that what I did brought positive connection and is pleasing to Hashem Yisborach.


Four years ago when I was living overseas for work, I overheard someone speaking on the phone to friends. From the nature of the conversation, it occurred to me that this person might be Jewish, although she did not look identifiably Jewish. I worked up the nerve to ask if she was Jewish to which she replied, no but my parents are Jewish. I started inviting her and her non-Jewish husband to our home. She would say that she was helping me with the holiday preparations just as a friend and not for religious reasons, and we would make matzah balls, latkes and challah.

Our job changed and we left that overseas place. This year, we traveled back for a short while and we found that the community newspaper now lists this woman in an important position as the Jewish representative at a location. It truly made me so happy to hear how my stretch a few years ago blossomed!


I called some once-related non-frum people (they were related through the second marriage of relatives, and that second marriage that dissolved) which had been left on rocky terms because of certain circumstances. At least two years have gone by and I called because of outreach motives, with ahavas yisroel intentions of expressing caring an to have an ayin tov for them. I spoke to them both, inquiring regarding their children and wishing mazel tovs on graduations, bar mitzvahs, and acknowledging the upcoming yahrtzeit of their mother, for whom I give charity each day. I told them that I think of them and that I give charity for her.

When my husband found out, he expressed concern that he not end up looking like the bad guy because he had wanted to keep in touch and didn’t. His way of expressing this to me was uncomfortable. I had not shared with him that I was expressing this caring because of the times we live in and outreach motives and a desire for ahavas yisroel and ayin tov. My husband had wanted to keep in touch with them but I objected at the time because of their lifestyle and because there was an obvious inappropriate attraction by the woman to my husband, which I felt was inappropriate, and I felt that my husband wanted that relationship for different reasons, good reasons, but I did not trust her at all – her flirting, her manner of dress and her stated desire for a close relationship did not appeal to me. As a result, we let the relationships go. Inadvertently I opened up with my husband a whole can of worms. It had not been my intention, but now I was faced with it.

Often my husband tells me that he is the healthiest person I know. He surely knows how to survive in an ego-strong environment, something that I am not good at in the least. I learn from him what it means to survive in a strong ego environment, the rules of how that works. But I don’t emulate it. Last night, I spent a great deal of time thinking about this. Why, in heavens name, do I object to the harshness that comes out when a person with a strong ego expresses their feelings? The people who I see with strong egos are accomplished and self-actualizing. Yet, I wonder about their ability to see Hashem! In conversations with them, as wonderful as they are, there seems to be a disconnect from the thing that I value the most, my connection to Hashem and seeing Hashem as the only power. This is something that I am not willing to trade away at all, and I believe that as a result people with strong egos find me irritating because I do not “worship” them or feed their sense of ego. I decided I need to do teshuva on this, to recognize that I can’t come across so “religious” as to not give people what they need in this regard. And, I spend a great deal of time praying for insight as to how to help people desire connection and then how to actually connect to Hashem Yisborach.

Instead of reacting to my husband’s condemnations of me for cutting these people off two years ago, I chose to see my husband with an ayin tov, including the strong terms he expressed himself with. Baruch Hashem, he survives in a strong-ego rich work environment. And what about me? How do I survive without succumbing to the same tactics?

What having a strong ego seems to mean in my eyes is “Here is who I am, I am great, give me honor, money, comfort, attention, love, a sense of achievement, self-actualization.” Is this healthy?

The means by which people accomplish this does not necessarily matter to them so much as the outcome. The goal appears to be to divide up a limited pot with “me” having the gezundte share – certainly with regard to money and attention. Is a happy, healthy ego is one that is capable of acquiring a large share of the pot, a huge portion?

There is a different pot to consider though, an abundant pot from an infinite Source of love and connection, the Source Who decides about money, power and everything that is limited. In my way of thinking, it is key to understanding this to make the best use of a strong ego – and by so understanding making our strong egos truly healthy!

If we are egotistical in the sense of taking from this world and competing with others, we have not properly defined our needs regarding taking care of ourselves. Ourselves exist not only in this frame of reference but in an eternal frame coinciding with and ultimately exceeding this frame of reference. Wisdom comes from knowing this because then we are properly able to expand our taking into the realm of giving, seeing giving as the ultimate taking, if you will, for we will be providing for our eternal soul. Simply by recognizing this as the true reality, we can take our egos and expand our sphere of greatness to include serving Hashem. And when we do so, we will truly have harnessed the power of our yetzer hara in the service of Hashem Yisborach.


For over 4 years there was a very serious break in my husband's family between them and us. It was very painful. The way I saw it was that a decree was written in heaven and we needed to do serious battle in 'labor of the heart' with davening. I spent many years studying "Praying with Fire" by Rabbi Heshy Kleinman to learn how to correctly do this intense and sincere labor and to have this decree in heaven destroyed…..and I am sure that other family members were doing the same. Last year at the end of summer there was a Simcha that we needed to attend and I really did not want to go. There was so much pain that my husband was going thru that his body was ill, bones and heart. We were truly a wreck. But I decided that I would support him and pray that HaShem would help us get thru this for the purpose of trying again to heal things in the family. I can't begin to tell you how very painful it was to attend this Simcha. We just said yes and went. We were there for a Shabbos…..in the middle of a very unfriendly place….but we made it and returned home knowing that we did the right thing and we did the best we could with the human emotional tools that we had. We survived and I believed that HaShem truly wanted us there.

This 4 year struggle of pain and misunderstandings was the beginning of a new world of understanding HaShem's great love for us……and how we could grow thru the pain to be better people….showing us ourselves and working on ourselves to be better Jews. • learning to forgive (it is an ongoing process for me); • learning to understand about the mirror in life that HaShem has given us to see our reflection in others so that we can more carefully work on ourselves. • learning about truly caring for another Jew and what Aleinu means in my life. • That when HaShem separates people He does it only for good • ************************************************************************************

For over 12 years I was carrying a grudge against someone that prevented me from even going to the Kotel to daven. This person did not purposely hurt me but was part of a group of people that HaShem allowed to send me into a 2 year depression or nervous breakdown. But for some reason this person was the main focus of my pain. I tried for years to heal on my own and thought that I had breakthroughs at different times. But each time I thought things were ok I would see that person and the pain just penetrated my heart.

This past year I heard someone give a very good report about something that this person said and decided that maybe, just maybe this person would be at a place to help me heal my pain and not be hurt themselves. This was my problem and I needed help. So thru a series of events, with twists and turns, I was finally able to give my story of pain over to this person, literally begging them to help me be released from my prison.....(not really even knowing how they could help me and fearing the worst that they would reject me) that they might be holding a key to unlock this prison I had created for myself.

The timing was perfect, as only HaShem can do, and this person was so wonderful about everything, asking for my forgiveness for being insensitive (which I never expected and even realized as they spoke that Chazel tell us that life is the mirror that HaShem uses to teach us about ourselves). This person was also very alert to the timing of this event and felt they needed to be alert to what may be going to happen soon in their own life, that they were being warned to be on the alert of insensitivity......many other things were mentioned in the conversation which lasted about one hour.

At the end this person asked if I was feeling better. During the conversation they were looking into my eyes, giving me all their attention and I could feel the love and concern of the pain they were feeling for another Jew who was trapped in their own prison of pain. They asked if this meeting with them helped me and I said that I didn't know if I was free yet but I was very thankful for their care and concern and hoped that finally I would be free.

It took two days to settle in. By the second day I noticed that when I thought of this person I could only smile and be so very grateful for the time and caring they gave me....when really it was my pain....this person didn't even remember the incidences that I brought up, me being involved to the degree I had been. So they were really doing this all for me....focused on me......caring that I be free.

I was FREE! What a feeling of gratefulness to HaKodesh Baruchu and this person. As I write this I am in tears of such gratefulness to Hakodesh Baruchu and this person. I can only think of the Tehillum where David HaMelech thanks HaShem from taking him from a small space and bringing him into a very broad space. That was me. This very loving person gave me the keys to unlock the prison I was in and it set me free. I smile with complete gratitude to HaShem and this person for knowing Jews like this really do exist in my life. • I was given freedom and the tape that had been playing in my head for over 12 years was destroyed • That we need each other more desperately then we even realize to help each other fight the battles against the Yetzar Hara, we are not alone • The davening I had done for years to break this possible decree came to fruit…never give up in beseeching HaShem for His will to be done in our lives • The warm caring of HaShem in our lives on a very personal level.

So, when I learned of Ahavas Yisrael groups being started I decided that I wanted to create a Vessel that I would remember the goodness of our G-d and our people...Am Israel. That I would be able, G-d willing, to pass on the kindness done to me and be sensitive to others.

What sticks inside me is when my friend Sara Rigler gave over the story at a community meeting in my neighborhood about how Israel had killed 4 of our own men during the Gaza war with friendly fire….. and that we destroy each other everyday with 'friendly fire'.....with Lashon Hara. Sara asked at that group meeting if we were willing to stop speaking lashon hara and hating other Jews. Bli Nader I choose life!

This is not the end of the story. We had been davening for 3 years to sell our home. We were asking a high price for the area it is in but decided that it would have to be that much for us to justify losing the rent.

Also my husband was speaking to a clerk in the pension office where he receives his pension overseas and the clerk mentioned that I had not been receiving my part of his pension as a married spouse. He told us that we should ask for a 'review' of his file which we did.

During the time we were waiting for the result of the 'review' my son asked that I come to the US on a serious family matter. My husband and I decided that we would just make the cost of the plane ticket and enough money for me to eat on for a month. (I had not seen my family for 4 years. After my last visit I had requested from HaShem not send me there again unless I could make a Kiddush HaShem ( I am a Gerius) financially and would have enough money not to rely on anyone there and to be able to take them places and buy them things instead of not having enough money to barely meet my own expenses, so I was not too crazy about going without enough funds but decided that my son needed me so I should go…..and trust HaShem.

Just before I left on the plane from Israel we heard from the pension review board that I was qualified for l8 month's retroactive pension fund plus I would start getting a monthly stipend. That paid for my trip and then some. Baruch HaShem I would not look so pathetic as I thought I might. While I was in the states the pension fund sent my husband two checks….which totaled 21/2 years in arrears. We were so happy. This was truly an answer to my prayer that my family would see the Kiddish HaShem.

Now I hadn't dealt with 'my grudge' issue yet. That started to happen after I came back from the states. Again a clerk in the pension office said I should submit a request for another review for the whole 8 years retroactive. So I did when I returned in Jan. from the states. Meanwhile we had a buyer for our home but we weren't sure how serious they really were….

Over a month after I returned from my trip to the states I decided to take care of my grudge. That took about 1 week. The day after I talked with this person the notice came that we were to receive the whole amount for 8 years in arrears (less the 2 years they had already given us). The buyers for our home became very serious and we started the process in the banks to sell the house. In two weeks it should be finally sold (in Israel selling a home on a Moshav takes a lonnng time). There was no question in my mind that HaShem blessed us with this financial gain because of the effort of Ahavas Yisrael. No question and I am very grateful.

The trip to the US was very successful with things happening with such timing and hashgaha pratis I can only say how thankful I am in watching HaShem work, and I was permitted to be a tool. Baruch HaShem!

This story is not over yet. There is more money coming to us thru another situation. We have struggled so hard over the last 15 years that for us it is wonderful to be able to have a time of plenty…….and to help others.

Oh, by the way I am now reading 'Praying with Fire' book 2.


There were 3 Israeli soldiers killed in Gaza by friendly fire, reported the news in 'operation cast lead'. All of us in Israel wept for these men, Am Israel being killed needlessly. Then my friend turned to the audience of people waiting to hear a lecture on Ahavas Yisroel and said, "We kill each other everyday by friendly fire, Loshon Hara."

Those words struck home to me and created a mental picture of the devastating destruction we bring on each other needlessly and detain the Machiach yet another day. Yet the day that I heard those words created another world of healing for me.

12 years ago I had an encounter with an acquaintance that would weigh on my shoulders. Events unfolded where I took offense and was very hurt by actions from others that were not meant to hurt but little did they know that they pierced my heart and caused my 2 years of a depression and semi nervous breakdown. I had tried everything to free myself from the tape library that I was building in my head. You know those tapes that you don't even know exist until HaShem points them out to you. I had tried to deal with this on my own but I knew it wasn't working, every time I saw her or the community that she lived in my gut ached. It took me 10 more years to be able to deal with one person who could help free me from my prison and those words about friendly fire compelled me to seek the keys to my prison from this acquaintance. This person literally held the keys that I believed would free me from this weight I carried for 12 years. I now had hope.

I started petitioning HaShem to help me know how to go about speaking to, lets call her Miriam. This was not a simple idea. Should I call her directly or maybe go thru a mutual friend that could support both of us….would she even remember the situation or did she even remember me!! This was a busy lady with a lot on her plate. I also had to deal with my own fears of being rejected or that this person could possibly make things worse….or……or…..or this negative list went on and on. So as I petitioned HaShem and poured out my heart to Him I wanted to run and call this person impulsively and blurt out my pain….but knowing that I am impulsive I decided to think with my head and create a plan. I decided to wait several days and think about what to do. Be still and calm down.

3 days passed and I was feeling pretty good about it. In fact maybe I wouldn't need to confront her at all….perhaps I took care of this whole thing on my own, internally without having to face the humiliation of another person seeing how awful a person I was to hold something against a person for so many years.

Then 4 days later I at a shiur (Torah class for women) and there she was. She never attended this shiur but she was there that day. As soon as I saw her I had that gut feeling again to run the other way, or look away, so I knew that I would have to take care of this. We ran into each other in the hallway and she looked at me and said hello and used my name so I felt better that at least she remembered me. I took her hands and looked straight into her eyes and said Miriam I need to speak to you about something. She asked if it was urgent (she must have felt my vibes) and I said yes. She wanted to leave the shiur immediately but I couldn't\t so we planned to try to get together later that day. Things didn't work out and I thought that maybe I had lost the opportunity and my door was closed forever. I panicked but kept trying to calm myself. 2 days went by as I waited for her call. She had told me that she would call as soon as she could. Finally on the 3rd day I realized that this may be urgent to me but not to her….she had mentioned that she had no idea what I needed to talk to her about concerning US. So on the 3rd day I started calling her in the morning and finally reached her by early afternoon. It wasn't until later that afternoon that we managed to get together and speak. As I started telling her what my problem was I realized that it was just that…my problem…and she really could have said she felt sorry for me but 'it was my problem'. Instead this tzedekas apologized to me for her part in my pain….that she believed she had a tendency to come off such and such a way. Would I please forgive her? She also told me that she believed that G-d had brought me into her life to prepare her for a coming situation where she would need to be very sensitive to a person. She believed in Hashgacha pratis and practically tried to live her life watching for HaShem's hand in her daily life. What an example of caring and love and concern she portrayed to me. What an example of Amunah and Bitachon. She was so concerned about me and my pain…she was so focused on me that she took those keys to my jail cell and opened my door and set me free. Baruch HaShem I am free.

Now when those tapes try to replay my pain connected to Miriam they are empty and I am lighter and my face is not as creased…..to be free to what HaShem would have for each one of us. One can't always handle pain with others this way but I realized that often it can happen… HaShem gave me encouragement with the message of 'friendly fire' and so I was able to experience, once again in my life, HaShem's intimate carrying for me.

A friend of mine mentioned to me that she felt connected to me and that I hold a part of her or something that I know will complete her. I am wondering if we have a key or keys to each other to free each other on different levels and that we need to reach out to each other to use those keys. We need to weave together the tapestry of Klal Israel and to do what we need to reach out to each other.

Now this story does not end here. 2 months before I had this experience with Miriam I had become aware that there was a possibility of coming into a decent sum of money from one of my husbands pensions. They had already given us retroactive 2 1/2 years but there was still 5 years that were in question. This all came to our attention from a clerk that was handling our case. We were so surprised that we were even eligible. Anyway I had been onto the clerk about getting this money and kept getting put off. The day after I met with Miriam and was set free from my prison the notice from the pension came in the mail box telling us how much we were getting, the full amount! There was no question in my mind that HaShem rewarded the actions taken on the day before. We never know the threads that are connected with our actions and in what order.


I was at a book store in Manhattan and a lady there was working. She brought me a big pile of catalogues to look through. We were talking in a friendly way and I complimented her on how efficient she was and it turned out that she lives in Flatbush. I looked at her and I asked by any chance are you Jewish and she said not really. So I could have left it at that, but I askd a little more. She told me that she came from Russia and her friend gave her numbers of organizations that help Russian immigrants, but she didn’t follow up and now it is too late. So I asked her what kind of organizations and she said Jewish. Really I said. Was your mother born Jewish? She said my father is Jewish. And your mother. And she said she didn’t take this path. So I was almost realy to end there, so as not to be too pushy, but I asked if her maternal grandmother was born Jewish and she said yes. So I said then I guess you are Jewish. She looked at me and she said I guess so. So I asked her do you ever do anything Jewish? I am working a lot. I asked if she is free on Fridays. She said she works Fri and Sat. I asked her when do you finish your shift on Fri and she said 7:45 and I said great that is when we start our dinner would you like to come? We live a block away. She said maybe. Can I take your number and invite you. So she is coming to us this Friday nite. The reason this whole conversation came about is because I decided to be really nice and complimentary to everyone. Ahavas yisroel is a midda and middos don’t split. If I want the midda, it isn’t only going to be to Jews. I am going to be a friendly person.


A long-time friend of mine and her daughter were over one Sunday recently for a barbecue. During the visit, I became aware of intense negative feelings that had been going on for some time with these two people, but they kind of came to a head that afternoon. I started saying negative things and feeling really critical for no apparent reason. Next morning, I was thinking about those feelings and realized, much to my surprise, that they were rooted in jealousy. I don't think of myself as a jealous person at all, so I was stunned by this realization.

Later that same day, I got an e-mail from my friend saying that her mother will be visiting in October and they're planning to go to the Metropolitan Opera. One of my goals for this coming year is to go to the Met, so I immediatley e-mailed her back saying I'd like to go with them and to just let me know how much I'd owe them for the tickets. A while later, she e-mailed that her mother is a supporter of the Met, so she gets first dibs on tickets, and she's planning to get $200 tickets for the Barber of Seville. Well, that e-mail just set me on fire with jealousy! I really felt like I was being consumed head to toe with intense envy; it was a perfect setup for me to experience these feelings, much better than anything else I can think of. I just really wanted one of those $200 tickets and felt it was so wrong that they were going and I couldn't! I wrestled with these feelings for about 15 minutes and had a lot of anger about the whole situation. I called my husband, who I knew wouldn't speak any loshan hora about the people involved or take my side, because I needed someone to just listen to my feelings. After that conversation, I felt like some of the pressure had been relieved and I was able to start "working it down", as we used to say in Emmett. I realized that the source of the jealousy (and possibly of all jealousy) was that I felt, in some primitive sort of way, that they had something that belonged to me. Then I just kept telling myself that those tickets were never mine in the first place, that they belonged to someone else; this allowed me to create some distance and calmed me down a lot, so I was able to let go of them


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