Spiritual Antidotes to Today’s Challenges: Mrs. Chani Juravel in Los Angeles


Spiritual Antidotes to Today’s Challenges: Mrs. Chani Juravel in Los Angeles

Yehudis Litvak

The Torah Umesorah Los Angeles Teacher Center hosted a special event for teachers and mothers on February 5th. The guest speaker, Mrs. Chani Juravel, gave a talk entitled Combating the Pain of Our Time: The Spiritual Antidote.

Mrs. Juravel – a Licensed Clinical Social Worker from Monsey, New York, and a popular lecturer and writer – immediately connected with her eager audience as she brought examples from her own life and from her practice that the listeners could easily relate to. She explained that the struggles of our current exile, galus Edom, are contained within each one of us. The Torah describes Eisav, the forefather of Edom, as tired, hungry, and hopeless. If we can overcome those three qualities, then we can be free of Eisav and on the way out of galus.

In her talk, Mrs. Juravel elaborated on each of these qualities, describing the antidote to Eisav’s influence.

When the Torah says that Eisav was tired, Rashi comments that he was tired from his sins. “When we are not involved in growing, in feeling something new, then we don’t feel simchah, we feel tired,” said Mrs. Juravel. Simchah comes from the body and soul being in sync, she explained.

Hopelessness is the notion that change is impossible. Eisav was born fully formed, signifying his inability to grow. Yaakov, on the other hand, represents process, continuous change. Mrs. Juravel explained that we tend to limit ourselves by our thoughts, telling ourselves, “I can’t,” or “I won’t.” We need to remember that “change is always an option,” she said.

Hunger is common to this generation, but many of us don’t know what we are hungry for. “Some of us know we’re hungry for inspiration, and still land up eating or shopping instead.,” said Mrs. Juravel. There are two types of psychological needs, she explained – real needs, like shelter and warmth, and illusory needs which by definition cannot be filled. The illusory needs are often composed of the three qualities mentioned in Pirkei Avos that take a person out of this world: jealousy, desire, and honor.

What are the antidotes to tiredness, hopelessness, and hunger? “A connection to a positive source of energy,” said Mrs. Juravel, “…really believing in Hakadosh Baruch Hu creating the moments in my life that I need to be living.” She explained, “By nature, our minds are wired for negativity. The way out is to find another thought… [that] makes us feel energized and full.”

Mrs. Juravel then spoke about the power of women “to take the world and infuse it with Hakadosh Baruch Hu,” encouraging her audience to believe in themselves and their significance in the world.