Tefillah is a powerful tool. When we see Hashem's hand at work, we are overwhelmed. One of my neighbors recently experienced Hashem's answer to her tefillah firsthand. She had brought her car in for repairs to the local auto shop. Rather than wait for it to be repaired, she decided to walk a mile to the nearest pizza shop for lunch. As she walked down a busy street, she passed a shopping center. Suddenly, she literally didn't know what hit her.
In response to my recent articles describing the odysseys of secular Jews who found their way home, I received much e-mail. One is the story of a young woman whose journey is typical of the angst with which assimilated Jews often struggle. But what is obvious in this woman's journey is Hashem's Providence. We need only open our eyes to discern it.
Our forefather Yaakov is considered to have been the patriarch who endured the most suffering. Although our rabbis look to the binding of Yitzchak and the trial of Avraham as the epitome of suffering in the form of self-sacrifice, Yaakov is our greatest teacher in the difficult subject of dealing with life's hardships.
"This week is Tu B'Shevat," announced Rabbi Dayan. "We celebrate the 'New Year' of trees with produce of Eretz Yisrael. However, the Israeli Rabbinate does not take full responsibility for Terumos and Ma'asros to export produce. So, unless the produce is marked as tithed, it is proper to take Terumos and Ma'asros yourself."
QUESTION: Since on Tu B'Shevat we do not celebrate with a festive meal. Then how do we mark this date on our calendar? Additionally is one allowed to fast on this day?M. Goldblum(Via E-Mail)
I have often been told that, when it comes to Jewish self-discovery -teshuvah, it is easier to reach out to females than to males and, indeed, there are some indications of this. But I have found this theory to be wrong. If, in some circles, there are more females attending Torah study programs, it is only because the men have not yet been tapped. The truth is that the pintele Yid is as potent in males as females and is able to ignite the heart of a man even as that of a woman. Just as the pintele Yid is not affected by the ravages of time, so it is not subject to gender differences.
Mordechai, a house painter in Jerusalem ("Mordechai's" name and profession have been changed to protect his identity), was self-employed for over 20 years. For the most part, business had been good. Lately, however, he was finding it difficult to make an adequate living.
I had to catch the 6:13 a.m. train from Petach Tikva to Modiin. Otherwise, I would be late for the bar mitzvah. I showed up at the train station at 5:45. It was locked. I asked the guard when they would be opening. He said, "Soon."
As I indicated in my last column, there are a thousand-and-one inspirational stories that I could share with you, testifying to the pintele Yid embedded for all eternity in every Jewish heart. It might be a book, speech, Shabbos experience, a hug, kind word, or a blessing from a bubby, zeidy, rabbi or Torah teacher. In an instant, that pintele Yid can come to life, make a journey that spans thousands of years and reconnect the soul to Sinai - and thus, every day, Yiddishe neshamos are reborn.
It was a chilly Shabbos morning in 1984 when my friend, a pearl importer, and I were walking up the long steep road to the hilltop synagogue in Kobe, Japan. When we finally reached the flat street on top of the hill, I was out of breath. There was a feeling of joy and accomplishment when the shul came into view. Only 50 more feet to go!
I write this column during the week of Parshas Vayechi, in which our father Yaakov imparts his blessing to his descendants. The Torah teaches that as he was about to give the brachah to Ephraim and Menasheh, the sons of Yosef, he suddenly posed a very strange and troubling question. "Mi eileh? - Who are these?"
The phone rang. It was a call I'd been dreading. "Well, are you going to pick it up?" asked my wife after the third ring. Bobbie, my dad's wife, was calling as we had agreed she would in the event of a life-threatening emergency. My father was dying of stage-four colon cancer. "Well, are you going to pick it up?" asked my wife after the third ring. Bobbie, my dad's wife, was calling as we had agreed she would in the event of a life-threatening emergency. My father was dying of stage-four colon cancer.
Many moons ago, when our children were small, my husband and I would spend our summers at Liebowitz's Pine View Hotel in the Catskill Mountains. It was a special time - before today's technology -when people actually talked to one another and were happy just to get away from the city and breathe some fresh country air. To me, however, that which was most special was that I had the zechus to host my dear parents every Shabbos. Then my talks took on an added dimension because my beloved, honored parents were there. Many amazing miracles occurred during these Shabbosim.
Over the years, it has been a family tradition to visit the graves of my forebears at least once a year, usually just before the High Holy Days. My son and daughter usually accompany me, and we visit the graves of their mother and grandparents.
This past week was the yahrzeit of Avi Mori, my dearly beloved father, my teacher, my guiding light, the eminent sage, HaRav HaGaon HaTzadik Avraham HaLevi Jungreis, zt"l. It is difficult to believe that 18 years have already passed since he was called to the Heavens above. In my mind's eye, I hear his kind, gentle voice; I see his magnificent, holy countenance and his loving smile, and yet, the years have passed. Eighteen is not an ordinary number.... 18 is chai - life - so I would like to recall some of the memories from the exemplary life of my saintly father, Avi Mori.
For the past few weeks my column has focused on the tragic reality of internal strife within families. The response has been overwhelming. It appears that countless numbers of our families are suffering from this fragmentation and are in urgent need of help.
Special Note: For the past two weeks my columns have focused on the sad state of contemporary family life - controversies between siblings, parents, and children. Unfortunately, however, this deplorable state of affairs is not limited to families. Our communities and our institutions are all ridden by "infighting."
Special Note: It appears that my articles on the pain of a family torn apart touched sensitive nerves. Sadly, too many of our families have become fragmented; too many are suffering from a lack of shalom bayis. The e-mails and letters that I received are all painful testimony to this breakdown of traditional family life. The following is just one of these letters.
In last week's column, I published a very sad letter from a young woman who wrote that two of her sisters were not on speaking terms and had splintered the family with their animosity.
Dear Rebbetzin Jungreis: I feel embarrassed to write to you about the conflicts that are tearing our family apart, but I have no recourse. I have tried many avenues; however none have worked and I am hoping that, if you publish my letter, the people involved will recognize themselves and perhaps get the message.