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August 30, 2015 / 15 Elul, 5775
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Eyes To See


Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis

Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis

Some years ago, I came across a Polish-Jewish newspaper published in the early thirties. It was a time when the winds of anti-Semitism were blowing throughout Europe, with particular force in Poland. I searched through every page of the paper and was appalled to find not even a hint of the tragedy that was looming for the Jewish people.

The columns focused on the Yiddish theater, advice for personal problems, and generally meaningless news.

Here we are decades later, what do the media focus on now? Politicians enmeshed in salacious scandals, the trial of the barbaric killing of a little girl, allegedly by her own mother, etc. Take an objective look at American society and you will behold a vapid, decadent culture, disintegrating family life, failing government, a broken economy.

It is against this background that we see the greatest threat facing the Jewish people, with the clock quickly ticking away. The life of our Jewish state is hanging by a thread. That which Hitler did in the space of years can now, G-d forbid, come to pass in just minutes with the push of a button.

There are, to be sure, those who share my fears, but the great majority of people refuse to hear, to see, to understand. Even as in pre-Holocaust Europe it was more convenient to ignore reality, so today people choose to look away from that which is unfolding before their very eyes. People assure one another that when push comes to shove, Americans will never abandon Israel, that America will not lose its sense of direction and will continue to champion the cause of freedom. They point to the killing of bin Laden and convince themselves that all is well.

I urge such people to remove, if even for a moment, their rose-colored glasses. Try to absorb that which is playing out before our eyes. Yes, bin Laden was taken out, but there are real questions as to how major a player he still was. Today there are new gangsters on the block but, tragically, we refuse to recognize them. The U.S. and NATO may be pounding away at Libya, but Khaddafi has become a minor player. The real killers are being ignored or given a pass.

Consider what is happening in Syria, where the authorities are torturing and killing their own people. Imagine what they would do to Jews if given the opportunity. This holds true not only for Syria, but for other Arab countries as well. And yet the world welcomes the new killers and refers to the revolutionary mobs of the so-called Arab Spring as liberators.

And look at the revolution in Egypt. As I noted in a previous column, the protestors in Egypt were regarded by many as the very symbol of the Arab Spring. But those same Egyptian mobs barbarically attacked a female CBS correspondent – to shouts of “Jew! Jew!” – and savagely attacked their fellow citizens of Christian faith along with their churches.

Then there’s Iran. Just a short while ago, brave Iranians took their lives in their hands and rebelled against Ahmadinejad and his totalitarian government, only to be quickly beaten into silence. Here again, the silence of the world was deafening.

Not to worry, we are told. Bin Laden has been killed and we are pounding away at Libya. There is no reason not to be confident about the future.

But if you truly love your people and are willing to behold the real world, you must shudder. While America is busy with its scandals and the West is increasingly coming under the sway of its growing Muslim populations, Ahmadinejad is brewing enriched uranium, the potion designed for the annihilation of Israel.

Those in the know are aware that this is not blind speculation but tragic, stark reality. And even more tragic is that there is no one to stop Ahmadinejad. The U.S. will not attack Iran, and Israel cannot go it alone.

What, then, are we to do?

We Jews know that everything comes from Hashem- that it is G-d who directs and controls the hearts of kings and leaders. We Jews know that “all suffering that is visited upon mankind is sent to awaken our people.” Yes, this is a wake up call for us to return to our covenant – to G-d Himself.

There are those who, upon reading this, will smile indulgently or even sarcastically and say, “There they go again, those religious Jews!” But I am smiling back at them. Here is my response:

“Tell me, if you can, how else if not for G-d’s intervention did we, a tiny, insignificant people scattered throughout the world, tortured and oppressed, survive the savage onslaughts of the nations? How is it that we have witnessed the rise and fall of great empires who had sworn to obliterate us while we are still here, more vibrant than ever?”

So why am I worried?

Because as much as I believe with all my heart and soul that G-d’s covenant with our people is eternal and will never be severed, I also know there is a terrible price to be paid if that covenant is not guarded and kept.

In Bergen-Belsen, as I stood for role call every morning, I didn’t know if I myself would live, but my saintly father, HaRav HaGaon HaTzaddik Avraham HaLevi Jungreis, zt”l, imbued me with faith and I knew beyond the shadow of a doubt that Am Yisrael Chai – the Jewish people would live and thrive.

At the same time, however, I knew our suffering was more than any other nation ever experienced. (Though I never dreamed the end result of that suffering would be six million dead Jews.) It is because of this that I picked up my pen. It is because of this that I cry out in the hope people will hear and once again embrace the Divine Covenant.

To those who ask, “What about all the religious Jews who perished in the Holocaust?” I would simply respond that it is written, “And each man shall fall because of his brother .”

We are a nation on one ship; if a man drills a hole under his seat, the entire ship will sink.

If you are a Jew, take a good look at yourself and ask, in this time of crisis as we come to the final chapter in Jewish history that will bring the Messiah, “Am I among those guarding the ship, or am I drilling a hole?”

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