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September 18, 2014 / 23 Elul, 5774
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Hashgachah Pratis: Readers Respond (Continued from Last Week)


Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis

Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis

I have been sharing personal testimonies on the subject of hashgachah pratis, chosen from a plethora of letters that have reached my desk. Each of these stories reflects a different challenge ranging from problems of health, parnassah, shidduchim and loss of dear ones (some of which I have yet to publish). These difficulties, to one extent or another, at one time or another, have challenged all of us.

In all these stories, in every aspect of our lives, G-d’s hashgachah pratis – guiding hand – is evident. We need only open our eyes to see it all. More saliently, these stories testify that the best therapy, the best tranquilizer, the best anti-depressant, cannot guarantee that which simple tenacious emunah, faith in Avinu Shebashamayim, our Heavenly Father, can accomplish.

In every aspect of our lives, Hashem’s hashgachah pratis is obvious; were it not for our highly pressured, crazed society that creates blockage in our hearts and minds, we would all be aware of it. But the din and noise of our times keeps us running so fast we do not know who we are. Blindly we forge ahead and cry out to the emptiness in the dense darkness of night.

During the Yom Tov of Pesach, as we relate our story at the Seder, we are reminded of G-d’s open intervention in our national and personal lives. It is He who enabled us to break loose from the iron chains of Egypt and go forth to Sinai.

Alas, we no longer see or hear the Voice of G-d whispering to us and prodding us along our path. We are citizens of the 21st century. Our lives are complex, we don’t have time, we have to keep running – and even if by some chance we would hear that Divine whisper, see that Heavenly Hand, the continuous noise that pounds away at our minds and hearts does not give us time to contemplate or consider the covenant we sealed at Sinai. It never occurs to us that there is something more to our lives and that G-d is forever holding us, even in our most painful moments.

In last week’s column I shared a letter written by a mother whose daughter had undergone the most horrific suffering. Three days before her wedding, she received the ominous news that the wedding was off. Her daughter’s intended chassan decided he couldn’t go through with it. The shock to the family was devastating, but obviously the one hit hardest was the daughter, the kallah – the young innocent girl who had counted every day until she would come to the greatest moment in her life, her wedding.

How, the mother agonized, could her daughter pick up the pieces? And it didn’t stop there. Apart from the personal suffering, there were a thousand and one challenges that had to be dealt with: How to break the nightmarish news to relatives, friends and acquaintances. How to inform the more than 350 guests who were planning to attend. How to deal with the wedding hall and caterer, to whom substantial deposits had been made. Could something be salvaged?

And then there was the wedding gown. Just two weeks earlier her daughter had her final fitting. “She looked like a vision,” the mother wrote, “joyously twirling and dancing in front of a mirror. That gown was now carefully stored in a special closet. My daughter glimpsed at it several times a day. The wedding gown that had evoked joy and gladness now evoked tears of pain.”

These little things, the mother added, had become symbols of sadness. And then there was the challenge of facing people, hearing the gossip, the innuendo, the whispers. “Did you hear?…Do you know what really happened?…What a rachmanis – how will she ever find a good shidduch again?”

With all that, she continued, “The greatest challenge was protecting our daughter from a total meltdown. The cry that came forth from the depths of her soul was so painful that I don’t think I will ever forget it. How could my daughter face her friends? How could she ever pick up her head? We tried to comfort her. We took her for therapy, but nothing could pick her up. Every day, every night, no matter what we were doing, that nightmare hung over us like a sinister shadow.

“Our beautiful daughter had always been a warm, easygoing, smiling girl. Now she was depressed and had no desire to talk to anyone. It took a while before she was ready to date again, and then we discovered yet another problem: there weren’t too many options for a girl who had a broken wedding on her resume. Every time a good shidduch was recommended, the parents of the boy would respond: ‘That girl – isn’t she the one…..’ and that was the end of it.

“Then, about two years ago, a woman called me, apologized for intruding and explained that her daughter was undergoing the same experience. In her case, the break-up came a few weeks before the wedding – somewhat better than it had been for our daughter.

“The woman explained that it had been almost a month but her daughter still couldn’t come to terms with what had occurred. A friend of hers, she said, thought it might help if my own daughter, who went through the same sad story, would talk to her and give her strength.

“To be perfectly honest, when I related this message to my daughter, she was somewhat hesitant. She had managed to bury that hurt, and was not anxious to bring it to life again, but her Yiddishe neshamah prevailed and she decided to try to help.

“And now to the incredible miracle – the hashgachah pratis of Hashem. The brother of that girl was studying in a yeshiva in Yerushalayim and he came home for Pesach. He and my daughter met, and, Baruch Hashem, the rest is history.

“Today they are happily married with a six-month-old baby girl. As for my daughter’s ‘ex-chassan,’ he too got married. Sadly, it soon emerged that he was emotionally ill, and today he is divorced.

“Whenever I think about it, I feel humbled by the awesomeness of Hashem’s rachamim – His mercy, His guiding Hand – that saved us from even greater suffering.

“Please feel free to publish our story. We need only have emunah and the sun will shine again. G-d never abandons us. Even when we feel all alone, we must place our trust in Him and know that what happens it is all for a reason – for our benefit – even if initially that reason eludes us. We are Hashem’s people and we have faith in Him and we know He always guides us.”

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