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December 1, 2015 / 19 Kislev, 5776
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‘Never Forget Your Mission’

Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis

Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis

For the time being, at least, this will be my closing column on my experiences in the hospital in San Diego. Today, Baruch Hashem, I am on my way. I had the zechus to be at our Hineni Fortieth Anniversary Dinner, to greet the overflow crowd and impart my heartfelt love to them. True, I am walking with a cane, sometimes a walker, but I am walking, speaking, teaching and writing, and for as long as Hashem will allow me, I shall continue to try to serve Him.

I have been sharing with readers some highlights of my hospital stay; I do so in honor of my saintly father’s teachings that forever remain etched on my heart. “Whenever life’s tests are visited upon you, my dear child,” he would say, “remember that you must focus on its lessons and share them with others so that they too may learn from them and apply them to their own tests of life.”

* * * * *

I was out of surgery just in time for Shabbos. But how do you usher in Shabbos lying in bed in a hospital? My daughter placed a white cloth over the tray table and two bulkelech supplied by the local Chabad along with a seudah they kindly provided on a daily basis. We kindled the Shabbos lights over electric bulbs, but somehow it didn’t feel right. The splendid atmosphere of Shabbos was painfully missing – my family sitting around the table, their eyes sparkling with the joy and sanctity of the day, singing the timeless melody of Shalom Aleichem.

Since the day my husband, HaRav Meshulem HaLevi Jungreis, zt”l, embarked on his final journey, I have always spent my Shabbosim with my children and grandchildren, blessing each and every one of them. And now I yearned so to place my hands on their heads and give them berachahs and hugs and kisses as I do every Shabbos. I saw them in my mind’s eye and whispered my blessings to them. As I did so, I knew they heard them and blessed me in return. I expressed my gratitude to the One who allowed me to emerge from surgery without mishap and made a silent commitment to serve Him more than ever before.

As I have related in the past few columns, the hospital I found myself in does not have a significant Jewish clientele. When I made Kiddush, some of the nurses came into the room and wondered what our table and the ceremonies were all about. I explained that to Jews, our past, present, and future merge. They are all one, intertwined.

I told them the two little challah rolls on the table are reminders of the double portion of the sweet manna with which G-d blessed us as we made our long trek of 40 years in the desert on our way to the Promised Land. While we gathered manna every day to sustain us for just that day, on Fridays we were given a double portion in honor of Shabbos so that we might forever know that on Shabbos, when we are commanded to refrain from labor, we need not worry – G-d will provide for all our needs.

And, I noted, the white tablecloth and the cloth that covered the challahs were reminders of the Divine Dew that sandwiched the manna and preserved its freshness.

So you see, I continued, our past is not just a memory. It speaks to us today with the same urgency it did yesterday, reminding us that we need not fear, but only place our trust in Him, the One and only One. The world is not just a random happening; G-d created it all with a higher purpose. For six days He labored and on the seventh day He rested so that we too might rest, discover our essence, and draw close to Him.

To illustrate it all I related an allegory:

“Once there was a very wealthy man and he had a sack of precious jewels. A beggar came along and beseeched him, ‘Could you spare just one of your jewels?’

“ ‘My dear son,” the rich man responded, ‘it is my pleasure to give you all that you need. As a matter of fact, you can take as many jewels as you wish, but just make sure to leave one for me.’

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