May 21, 2024
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When discussing the management of life stress, people often use the metaphor of juggling multiple balls in the air. This metaphor represents the various concerns and stressors competing for our time and attention. The balls we juggle can be categorized into different types: crystal balls symbolize delicate issues that require careful handling, plastic balls represent concerns that can be dropped without significant consequences and rubber balls signify attitudes that allow us to bounce back easily into the rhythm of life.

While numerous strategies can help us to better manage these balls, one approach that has a profound impact on our well-being is self-care. Despite occasionally being misunderstood as self-indulgent and self-centered, self-care actually provides a space for us to focus on ourselves while also impacting our connections, experiences and community.

Self-care encompasses multiple facets. Emotional self-care involves recognizing which emotions are valuable to us and incorporating them into our lives. This can include maintaining contact with people who are important to us or engaging in activities that bring us emotional sustenance and joy. Relationship self-care entails investing in meaningful connections with family members and friends, whether in person or through phone communication, and sharing our fears and hopes with trusted individuals. Developing relationships and fostering connections are integral to overall self-care.

Spiritual self-care is equally crucial for our well-being and sense of purpose. It involves recognizing that there is a greater purpose beyond ourselves, which centers our focus in life and sets the stage for personal growth and development. Torah learning opens our minds to the magnanimous reach of Hashem. It provides the context and content to understand our purpose, explore and connect with our values, nourish our souls, guide our actions and unite us as a community focused on growth and purpose.

When approaching spiritual self-care, we should ask ourselves what truly inspires us. Is it exploring a perek of Tehillim, analyzing Halacha, understanding a topic in Tanach from a new perspective? Is it drawing a picture inspired by a posuk? Singing Shabbos-related pesukim while preparing for Shabbos? Does connecting with our past contribute to a more meaningful future? As the director of the OU Women’s Initiative, I ask myself these questions in creating meaningful spaces and experiences for women to engage in spiritual self-care. These are also the concepts that are considered when designing a curriculum for our upcoming ALIT Virtual Summer Beit Midrash program beginning on July 10, which caters to diverse needs and interests to reach a wide range of women learners.

Since the summer of 2020, hundreds of women have been investing in their spiritual self-care as talmidot in ALIT. Devoting time to learning creates a space for growth and an opportunity to connect with your spiritual self and with others who are on the same journey. The juggling act will never feel the same. I encourage you to join us at ou.org/women/alit2023. Transform yourself and impact others.


Rebbetzin Dr. Adina Shmidman is the founding director of the Orthodox Union Women’s Initiative and the rebbetzin of the Lower Merion Synagogue in Bala Cynwyd, PA.

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