Your Daily Dose of Inspiration with Yaffa Palti

Rifky Grossman April 5, 2021

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Speaking with Yaffa Palti before Passover was a tremendous surge of inspiration in itself – her simchat hachaim and grab-life-by-the-horns mentality is effusive. We figured after the Passover high, a healthy surge of Yaffa inspo will be appreciated!

RG: Yaffa, you’re a ball of energy, good vibes, and positive inspo! Where do you derive your energy from?

YP: Thank you!! That’s the biggest compliment. The short answer is that I don’t take myself too seriously. I’m not THAT important. I try to accept myself for exactly who I am- I appreciate my level of accomplishment while at the same time I accept my most elemental parts because I know that I’m an evolving human playing out an unfinished story. I think that when we realize that we’re here for a greater purpose than just self gratification, when we don’t give so much importance to our personal feelings and opinions, when we learn to see the world as a much bigger picture than our own little corner of it, when we realize that we’re here to contribute to life, not to take from it, when we put the focus on our responsibility instead of on our rights, when we feel blessed instead of deprived, then we keep our energy frequency high and our offense level low. And that’s what I work on every day 🙂

RG: You’re such an advocate of lifting others up- either through humor or feel-good inspiration videos, what are the greatest sources of inspiration and chizuk in your daily life?

YP: Wow, I am more complimented with each question! Thank you for appreciating me.

I don’t mean to sound corny, but my greatest source of inspiration is life itself. My favorite time of day is morning because I wake up with a surge of exhaustion 🙂 but also with a surge of gratitude that overwhelms me at times.

I am so grateful to have the gift of life, to have my family, my home, my health, my clothing, my talents. I’m so thankful that I’m not allergic to chocolate. I feel so blessed to be a Jew, to have been put into this world in a Torah environment, to have encountered so many people who have each taught me something that shaped me into who I am today.

Including, by the way, the people who didn’t believe in me, who didn’t protect me, who didn’t appreciate me. These people have taught me that no one except me gets to determine my reality. We may not have control over our circumstances in life, but we absolutely have control over the way we respond to those circumstances. That’s how we condition our quality of life. We aren’t responsible for what happened in our past, but we get to take responsibility for our future. And so, life inspires me. The blessing of free will, the freedom to choose between right and wrong; between what’s easy and what’s right, the ability to master our emotions, the resilience and stamina we were given as part of the gift of life.

RG: What’s your favorite way to start the day?

YP: Oh, whoops! I spoke about morning in the previous question but now I’ll talk about what happens after my moment of gratitude. My favorite way to start the day is by turning over and going back to sleep (sleep is also a blessing!) BUT I don’t do that because I have discovered that if you miss one hour in the morning you spend the rest of the day looking for it and ain’t nobody got time for missing hours.

And so, I do my morning workout, which consists of lifting my arms to put on exercise clothes and bending down to put on my sneakers and bouncing downstairs as if I’m going for a run but then getting distracted on WhatsApp and then suddenly it’s time to bring the kids to school and I never actually made it out the door and so I end my routine with patting myself on the back for trying.

Seriously though, after the kids are in school my morning consists of davening (sometimes I do that much earlier), meetings, preparing and giving Zoom classes and now in-person classes too, B”H, meeting with clients, doing interviews or recording videos for different organizations, while trying to find a private space to do all of this because my husband also works from home and we share an office (also known as our dining room table). I spend most of my morning hopping from room to room to car to backyard, hoping the WiFi is working there. And yes, I will be giving a course on how to maintain shalom bayit – but no promises about your sanity – when you are home together all day 🙂

Another important thing I make sure to do is leave time for creativity. I try to spend an hour a day creating – whether it’s making social media content, writing a song, inventing a new recipe, shopping online (some might argue that that last one does not fall into the category of creating but they obviously don’t appreciate the creativity of outfit coordinating and the art of typing in a credit card number from memory).

RG: There are so many empowering movements going on in the Jewish community. Are there any that speak to you more than others?

YP: OK so this is actually a deeper question than you intended and I apologize in advance for that. When it comes to “movements,” I’m not quick to jump onto bandwagons. Movements can be very powerful and empowering, but they can also be very misleading and even dangerous.

We don’t always know the origin of or intention behind the movement, but human nature makes us attracted to big things and big people, so if big people are doing big things, we want to be a part of that “bigness.” This is when I exercise my critical thinking and objectivity to determine whether this is a movement I can and should get behind.

The problem goes deeper than that, though, because even if the cause is good, the intention might not be – someone may be starting this to be a hero, or for their own validation or ego, or just as a way to have Instagram content.

And even if the cause is noble and the intention is holy, people often get carried away once they have a platform and an innocent objective can quickly emerge into one that doesn’t align with Torah hashkafa.

In addition to that, these movements often turn into exclusive Instagram clubs for the elite, creating a high-school-cliquey vibe, manipulating the vulnerable and misleading the masses.

That being said, I applaud and support all movements that are working l’shem shamayim and especially ones that empower Jewish women.

RG: How do you stay positive even when #stressed?

YP: Hmmm good question. I don’t know what normal people do, maybe some deep breathing or visualization or mediation, but I’m an extrovert and spending so much time alone in my head is actually what causes me stress in the first place!

So I have a different approach. I just accept my stress. I don’t fight it, I don’t let it overwhelm me, I don’t take it personally. I make it my friend! I love friends. So if I make my stress my friend, instead of my enemy, it’s no longer a threat. And also, it’s much easier to negotiate with a friend than with an enemy.

This is actually how I treat all my negative emotions and all my weaknesses as well. I invite them in and embrace them instead of fighting them and rejecting them.

I also have conversations with Hashem about it. I’ll give you one example of a potentially stressful situation in my life. I am easily distracted, and bite off way more than I can chew, and I’m not great with time management (I can hear your silent agreement as you recollect having to chase me down to do this interview that I sent in to you only two weeks late :/) and so when it comes to erev Shabbat or erev Yom Tov and I’m rushing against the clock and I feel the symptoms of stress beginning, I turn to my eyes upward and say, “Hashem, You made me this way. You gave me a brain that is creative and smart and healthy and happy BUT it’s also disorganized and distracted and forgetful and has terrible time management, and I accept the whole package but I need you to help me please. You made me this way, now You have to help me with it.”

Once I actively put Hashem in charge, I proceed to let go and let Him take over. And you know what? I know, without a shadow of a doubt, that Hashem holds time still for me or He gives me k’fitzat haderech on those days because logically, scientifically, mathematically, it makes no sense for everything to be cooked and ready on time for Shabbat, and yet it always is.

So, leave your worries and stress to Hashem; He’s up all night anyway.

RG: What are your favorite munchies?

YP: Oh gosh, where do I even begin? For when I need something sweet, vanilla ice cream with those thick, glorious pieces of fudge. When I want something salty, I’ll make some fresh salty popcorn on my stove, and I don’t mean to brag, but sometimes I pop every single kernel in the pot.

Also, anything related to potatoes, salt and oil is my BFF.

RG: If you could send a massive dose of inspiration to everyone reading this, what would it be?

YP: Don’t underestimate the power of your mindset and your ability to be fully free.

You can go through life with a fixed mindset and be a victim of life, or you can have a growth mindset and be a victor of life. We just celebrated Passover. Now, while Passover is the holiday of cheirut (freedom), we don’t only celebrate physical freedom – because you can be physically free, like most of us are today, and yet still feel enslaved. We can be enslaved to our thoughts, emotions, desires, inner voices, peer pressure, insecurities, society, and we can even be enslaved to our mitzvot, if we live life as a victim.

Is life happening to me or is life happening for me?

To be free means to be the master of our lives. To own our choices: to choose better reactions, to choose what’s right over what’s easy, to choose to control our emotions instead of allowing them to control us, to control our desires and opt for long-term pleasure instead of short-term gratification, to guide our inner voice to be one that’s loving and compassionate, to choose resilience over despair, to recognize our intrinsic value and self-worth and to realize that Hashem wakes us up every single morning because there is something very unique and special that we need to accomplish and He believes in us and in our ability to accomplish it.

To be free means to take responsibility for our lives and not make excuses for not being who we know we can be. It means owning our mitzvot and not being a victim of them.

Through the power of choice we get to build our relationship with Hashem, with ourselves, and with the world around us. We get to fortify our self-confidence, our dignity, our pride, and we get to live fully and truly free.

To stay inspired in real time, follow @yaffapalti.