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September 21, 2014 / 26 Elul, 5774
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For Everything A Time And A Season


Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis

Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis

King Solomon, who was the wisest of all men, grew up in Jerusalem, the wisest of all cities. He was the son of King David, whose wisdom and vision lives through the centuries and to this day guides us and comforts us in our daily lives through his immortal Tehillim – Psalms.

King Solomon imparted a teaching to us that should give us all chizuk – strength – and hope when we feel overwhelmed by our personal challenges. “For everything there is a season – a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance….”

I have experienced healing in the wake of some of the most painful occurrences in my life thanks to the wonderful gift of time King Solomon advises us to bear in mind when we feel everything around us collapsing. Bit it is not magic. It requires effort, prayer, faith, and Torah administered by someone who knows how to impart it. Memories are etched so deeply in our hearts that no matter where we are, no matter what situation we are in, they keep speaking to us. They never quite fade.

One day my oldest daughter half jokingly said to me, “Ima, I was talking with one of my friends who is also the daughter of survivors and she shared with me that no matter what happens, her parents somehow always make a reference to the Holocaust.” For a moment I thought about it and then I realized that I too am one of those survivors who returns to those nightmarish days that are never erased from my heart. Still, the words of King Solomon give us hope and life.

King Solomon once gathered his wise men and commissioned them to make a ring that would remind a man never to lose faith and keep him on an even keel. The ring they designed had three Hebrew letters, gimmel, zayin and yud, the initials of “gam zeh ya’avor – this too shall pass.”

I’ve written about my traumatic fall last Pesach when I broke my hip and had to undergo major surgery. At that time I went through my own difficult struggle and this same daughter told me that I of all people had no right to give up.

I had, she reminded me, risen rose from the ashes and gave new life to a family that perished in the flames of Auschwitz. I had the zechus of founding Hineni, the first international outreach organization that has brought uncountable numbers of people throughout the world to Torah. I had been invited to the White House not once but numerous times and was appointed by President Bush to represent the United States at the dedication of the new Yad Vashem building.

How, my daughter asked me, could I allow myself to grow despondent?

The same feelings enveloped me when I had to face the painful deaths of my dear revered parents and husband, but the healing gift of time was balm on my deep scars. For such is the way of our lives, and it will be easier to travel the bumpy road of life if we bear in mind King Solomon’s wisdom that “For everything there is a season – a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance….”

At this point I feel it’s only right that I share with you my most beautiful simcha – the wedding of my grandson. For grandparents to see their grandchildren under the chuppah is an awesome source of joy – but this happiness is multiplied a thousandfold when it occurs to Holocaust survivors, especially to one such as me.

I am the only one left from my entire immediate family who still remembers the past generations. I am the only one who can still tell that story, and at every simcha I remind my children and all my descendents of the words spoken by my saintly father, HaRav HaGoan HaTzaddik Avraham HaLevi Jungreis, zt”l.

After our liberation my father discovered he was the ben yachid, the only surviving son, from the glorious Jungreis rabbinic dynasty. Slowly and painfully my father rose from his chair, tears streaming down his cheeks and into his beard that had just started to grow once again after the Nazis had brutally shaved it.

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