“So you, see Jeanette,” I said, “ ‘Baruch Hashem’ goes a long, long way. There are no incidents in life that cannot be embraced, as painful as some of them may be, if you remember ‘Baruch Hashem.’ If you remember that, you will always find a little light even in the darkest clouds. ‘Baruch Hashem’ is our credo that has enabled us to survive the centuries.”
I also told Jeanette about a cousin I had – a great Rebbe who lost his wife and all his children in the Holocaust. He came to this country and tried to rebuild a new life. He remarried and had children, but then his Rebbetzin had a breakdown and had to be placed in a home.
I would call him up and say to him, “Voss machat dee, Rebbe?” – “How is the Rebbe feeling?”
“Ich vell dich zogen, mein kind” – “I will tell you, my child” – ‘Baruch Hashem.’ ” His “Baruch Hashem” spoke volumes.
And then I told her one more “Baruch Hashem” story about my father. In his last years a trach was placed in his throat and he could no longer speak. My father was a tzaddik and teaching, speaking, was his life. He never discussed his pain but I knew it must have been agonizing for him, yet when someone would approach his bedside and inquire about his health he would mouth, “Baruch Hashem.”
Some years after his passing a member of our congregation, Mr. Herman Harris, was visiting a nursing home in honor of Chanukah. He distributed packages of goodies and wished everyone a good Yom Tov. After seeing all the patients, he had one package left. He looked around for a nurse whose actions reflected kindness and compassion. After seeing one such person he approached her and said, “Please accept this little token for the holidays.” She looked up and smiled and without any hesitation responded, “Baruch Hashem.”
Herman was taken aback because the nurse was not Jewish. He asked her, “How do you know that phrase?” She replied, “I had a patient, a saintly rabbi, who taught it to me.” Herman asked the nurse who that patient was. She said, “Rabbi Jungreis; he was a holy man who even when he had no voice and was consumed by pain mouthed the words ‘Baruch Hashem.’ ”
Jeanette’s eyes filled with tears and she said to me, “I like that phrase ‘Baruch Hashem.’ It’s going to be part of my daily vocabulary and I will try to teach it to others.”
This is why we must always ask ourselves, in every situation: What is the message I am imparting? What is the calling card I am leaving behind?