The Despair-Busting Challenge: Week One

The Despair-Busting Challenge: Week One

Things continue getting crazier and crazier over here in Nachlaot.

In fact, things are feeling too intense at the moment to write an update about what exactly is happening in the neighborhood and in my life.

But I will tell you what I’ve been starving hungry for over the past few weeks…

You know on the afternoon of Tisha b’Av, how you crave a really tall glass of really sweet apple juice?

Well, in that same way I’ve been craving Emuna…I read Rav Arush on the bus, I read Rav Arush bouncy bouncy on the treadmill, I read Rav Arush when I find a few minutes collapsed on the sofa between family and home and blog.

And, without fail, Rav Arush relieves my anxiety and despair and revives me just like that really tall glass of really sweet apple juice at 9:32 PM on Tisha b’Av night.

So, after discussing my new obsession with my very smart Brainstorming Team, Chaya Houpt and Chaya Cohen, the Chayas suggested that I transform my new addiction into a new feature on for the 5 weeks between now and Purim: the Despair-Busting challenge.

This means that week after week, I will be sharing inspiring thoughts on Emuna that have been providing me with so much strength and perspective and comfort throughout this insanely scary neighborhood crisis. And I hope that these ideas will enable you, as well, to cope with and eventually overcome your own disappointments and challenges and scary situations in your own JewishMOM lives.

So here’s this week’s Despair-busting story from Rav Arush:

A woman suffering from very unattractive sores on her face came to me for advice, and told me that she planned to do a six-hour personal-prayer session to invoke a heavenly cure.

I told her that she can do personal prayer as long as she desires, but she must be careful to begin her prayer session by thanking Hashem for these hideous sores, which are surely for her advantage. These sores were bringing her to a lofty level of prayer and a deep relationship with Hashem.

Once she expressed her gratitude, she could ask Hashem to clarify for her what she must correct. Only then could she finally pray for a true remedy and complete cure.

Always remember that faith means believing that everything is for the good; therefore, we should undoubtedly thank Hashem for everything we lack and suffer. Our problems and tribulations are what bring us closer to Hashem and arouse in us the desire to pray and open the depths of our hearts to Hashem. As such, they are an immensely big favor from Above.” (Garden of Gratitude by Rav Shalom Arush p.144)

B”H, my face isn’t covered with hideous sores. But I do share my neighborhood and even my street with some extremely hideous human beings.

So here’s my Week #1 Despair-Busting Challenge for you and for me too…
• 1. Identify your own overwhelming despair-inducing challenge…
• 2. Sincerely thank Hashem for the true benefits of this challenge
• 3. Ask Hashem to clarify what you need to correct in your heart and/or in your life.
• 4. Expect miracles, just like this JewishMOM here in Nachlaot.

Image courtesy of user Alan Cleaver


  1. I love it! May Hashem bless you that Adar comes early for you this year!

  2. Wonderful idea from a fellow Arush addict. ;o) Garden of Wisdom is now in the works and I can’t wait for you to read it. Maybe I can sneak you some excerpts (?). Hang in there. Like that monotone message goes, right before the annoyingly long beep: “This is a test. This is only a test.”

  3. Tamar Miller

    Wow- Jenny, thank you! this is just what the doctor ordered. i’m davening for Nachlaot that things get better real soon. looking forward to the next Emuna excerpt.

  4. That is an awesome story – I love it! I’ve been hooked on the book called “Trust Me” which also teaches a lot of these concepts.

  5. A bit of hashgocha perhaps????
    Besides going through a stretch of malaise,despair and so forth, after a life of relatively smooth sailing as far as skin goes, I find myself suddenly afflicted with some rather “hideous sores” on my face. They are difficult for people to look at and not too responsive to treatment so far. Although I can not say they are my biggest challenge by any means, their presence has taken on a deeper meaning since reading this post.
    Count me on board.Despair, prepare to be busted, BE”H.

  6. This is the perfect explanation for a realization I have had over the past week…
    Two weeks ago my 9 month old went on an abrupt nursing strike. I was devastated. I have tried everything imaginable to try to convince him to come back… co-sleeping, skin to skin, baths, etc… to no avail. He flat out refuses to nurse.
    The first week I felt bad for myself.
    The second week I turned to Hashem.
    I picked up my siddur to daven Shacharit every single morning for the first time since well before he was born. I have been wanting to get back into my davening for a while, but this seemingly bad situation is what finally gave me the motivation to do it. It also made me reflect on my parenting, my priorities, etc. I made realizations that were incredibly necessary and meaningful. Thank you Hashem.
    Now that I’ve learned everything I had to, maybe Hashem will make him decide again that he wants to nurse…

  7. Thank you so much for your wise words. Just said a little prayer, thanking G-d for my challenges. It makes things feel so much clearer and more positive. Everything is for the best.
    Love your website.

  8. Brilliant, and so necessary. Thank you. I’ll try to pass this message on to singles.

  9. I came across this site today and was intrigued by this section’s title, the story, and the responses. I suffer from vitiligo, loss of pigmentation of skin. This causes me great anguish. As a teenager I was diagnosed with clinical depression and it is a battle I fight anew each day. I have struggled with faith and god for most of my life, and cannot find connection, acceptance, solace. I do try to list things I am grateful for. But I struggle to connect to god, to believe that all that causes such pain is good for me. If I could use the strength of my despair as vehicle of connection, I’d be enmeshed. I am as yet unable to do this. How are you able to move in that direction?

    • A good start might be to purchase some books:

      “Restore my Soul” by Rabbi Nachman

      “Outpouring of the Soul” by Rabbi Nachman

      “Garden of Gratitude” by Rabbi Shalom Arush

      “Garden of Emuna” by Rabbi Shalom Arush

      You can order them all online at May you be Blessed with complete healing and inner peace, Amen!!!

      • Also we have a saying that basically says, If you pretend, you can come to actually believe. (mitoch shelo lishma, bo lishma)

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