Once again, women in Unity held an inspiring event in Melbourne, Australia. It has been a decade since the Women in Unity was formed in response to the tragedy at Mumbai, India. The commitment to the unity of the Jewish people that originally galvanized its founders, Rebbetzins Riva Cohen, Sara Gutnick, and Miriam Telsner, has not wavered.
Promoted as a gathering for women of all segments of Melbourne’s wider Jewish community, the event featured the well-known and popular lecturer, Mrs. Shimona Tzukernik (the kabbalahcoach.com). Her topic “Joy and Inner Peace-The Jewish GPS to Get There” drew a crowd of over one hundred women to the Chabad House of Caulfield – 770.
Mrs. Stera Gutnick, chaired the evening by thanking Mrs. Riva Cohen for organizing the evening and the many ladies for coming out on such a dark and cold winter’s night. “We gain strength and brochas from achdus, harmony and peace,” she said. Mrs. Gutnick went on to introduce Shimona Tzukernik as “a woman who transforms peoples’ lives online and in person” through her coaching process known as The Method which teaches one to not only survive but, to thrive with lasting inner peace and joy.
Shimona’s speaking style immediately engaged the audience, as she weaved an intricate tapestry consisting of her vast Torah knowledge along with personal anecdotes, deep mystical theological concepts, humour, Chassidishe stories, and warmth. Relating a story connected to the tragedy in Mumbai, she told of a conversation she had heard regarding Rabbi Holtzberg (OBM). A priest had come to him seeking to convert to Judaism. Rabbi Holtzberg was curious as to the priest’s motivation and told him that he could serve G-d by staying in his own religion. The priest explained that often in his work he listened to people describe their difficulties in life and he would try to teach them about having faith and being joyous. Nevertheless, until this priest met Rabbi Holtzberg he had never witnessed such deeply authentic and spiritually lofty joy as an inspiring example. This priest wanted to know what Rabbi Holtzberg knew so that he could also achieve his deep level of faith and joy.
Shimona continued with amusing anecdotes of each of her twins and how they displayed different inborn capacities for joy. The ability to be happy comes easier to some people than others by virtue of their nature. Yet, we as Jews are obligated to be happy regardless of our inborn nature or our circumstances. Quoting Aishes Chayil-Woman of Valour, “she looks smilingly to the future and is joyous to the end of her days….” Shimona posed the question: What does our G-d given obligation to be happy mean in terms of our daily avodah?
The rest of her discussion covered a wide array of topics related to the central theme of inner peace and joy. Drawing from various sources in Chassidus and halacha, she illustrated the Torah view of happiness, what it consists of and how we can achieve it.
According to the Rambam, in all things a person must strive for the middle path. All except for two things—one must be extremely humble and extremely slow to anger. What is the middle path when it comes to matters of money? Neither being extravagant nor miserly. Rather giving tzedakah as proscribed by the Torah.
What if a person has a morose or pessimistic disposition? What is the middle path between being a depressed person or a frivolous one? Simcha is the middle path, the path towards normalcy. Shimona elaborated on this.
Then she described how to become happy, and how to change our way of thinking citing both Torah sources and some secular books that reinforced the Torah views and methods. Our thoughts can become a roadmap to our happiness if we learn to master these principles to control our thoughts. Regaling the audience with Torah sources and references to entertaining stories, having the attitude of gratitude, how Simcha breaks all boundaries, and the transformation of darkness into light, Shimona had the rapt attention of everyone in the room for over an hour.
This was followed by a musical interlude by the women’s Tiferet band, in which women broke out in spontaneous song and dance. A quick raffle concluded the evening and the ladies left with an endeavour to bring more joy and inner peace into life.