I am postponing the follow-up to my previous column – “Technology, Yom Kippur, Ahmadinejad” – so that I might share with you a very personal experience.
As we Jews know, there are no coincidences, no random happenings. As a matter of fact, in lashon hakodesh, the holy tongue, the very word “mikreh,” translated as “it happened,” actually means “kara mei Hashem” – “it happened from G-d.”
In my most recent column I wrote about ways of improving family relationships, and raising children who have derech eretz and respect for their parents. I will continue on that same theme here.
Several weeks ago I shared a letter from a heartbroken mother whose children had shut the door in her face. Time and again she tried to open that door, but despite all her attempts she did not succeed. No matter how she humbled herself and begged, no matter how many people interceded on her behalf, it was to no avail.
“A himmel geshrai” is a Yiddish phrase that, loosely translated, means “a tragedy of such catastrophic proportions that the heavens themselves cry out.” Sadly, every one of the letters on family breakdowns I’ve featured these past several weeks can be summed up as “a himmel geshrai.”
Over the past several weeks I have featured tragic stories of family disintegration. Some of you might protest that “tragic” is a rather extreme word and that “sad” or “painful” would be more appropriate, but once again I emphasize tragic.
For the past several weeks this column has featured letters from parents who have experienced rejection and hatred from their children – as well as my suggestions on how to cope with such situations. This week I would like to share a letter that adds another dimension to the breakdown of so many families in our community. In this instance it’s not the children who have rejected the parents but a parent who has rejected her child.
The response to my columns regarding family breakdowns has been explosive.
This week I will share some of my own thoughts on the subject.
My previous two columns focused on the fragmentation that has affected one frum family. Many readers may consider the story described to be a rare occurrence. I wish this would be the case. To be sure, each family crisis is its own unique tragedy, but the common thread of hatred is always there.
Last week I shared a tragic letter of family disintegration. What could have been a most beautiful mishpachah was torn asunder by one son and his wife who decided to sever all relationships with their siblings. Despite all the efforts on the part of the parents and the siblings, this son and his spouse remained refused to be reconciled. When simchas came – births, bar mitzvahs, weddings – the parents were invited but never the siblings. To add insult to injury the parents were treated disrespectfully on all of these occasions.
Dear Rebbetzin Jungreis, This is the most painful letter I’ve ever written. I’ve been through many horrific experiences. My parents were survivors of the Holocaust; they were shattered people. I know you will understand this since you too are a Holocaust survivor.
I receive letters and e-mails every day from all parts of the world. Sadly, there is no shortage of problems. Pain and suffering abound. How to navigate the turbulent waters of the world we live in is a challenge for everyone.
Last week I published a letter from a thirty-eight year old single woman who lamented that despite her having become a ba’alas teshuvah, forsaking her secular life, committing to Torah and mitzvos, going to rabbis, receiving berachot – in short, doing all the “right” things – she has failed to find her bashert, her soul mate. She wondered where G-d was and what all her sacrifices were all about. She was angry at G-d and regarded all her efforts as having been for naught. “My joy in Judaism has disappeared,” she wrote. The following is my response.
Raised in a secular family, she followed the usual pattern of the last couple of generations, placing marriage on the back burner in favor of relationships.
I had watched my biological clock ticking away and now I wished I could live my life over again, establish a Torah home and create a family. I decided to write to you, Rebbetzin Jungreis in the hope that you’ll publish this so that others can learn from my experience and leave behind empty relationships, go under the chuppah, and live purposeful lives.
I’d like to share with you a story I believe is a wonderful gift we can present to Hashem now that the painful summer months of Tammuz and Av – months that saw the destruction of our holy Temple – are nearly upon us.
During the past several weeks I have shared many of my own personal experiences and those of others. I am referring not only to my recent hospitalization following the breaking of a hip, but also to my series of articles on hashgachah pratis – events that befall us that can easily be attributed to random happenings but upon closer scrutiny and honest introspection testify to the ever-guiding Hand and mercy of Hashem.
Last week I mentioned that I’d received numerous reader responses to my series of columns detailing my experiences in a San Diego hospital following surgery for a broken hip. I shared one such note with you last week. Here is another.
I have been overwhelmed by the e-mails and letters I’ve received in response to my series of articles focusing on my recent accident and surgery – so much so that while I wrote last week that the subject would be closed with that column, I feel compelled to share some of these communications with you.
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.
B’ezrat Hashem I will continue to share with you my challenging days spent at Scripps Memorial Hospital in San Diego. Whenever difficult days befell me, my revered father would always say “Hashem sends us tests so that we might know how to help others when they have to confront their trials.”
I have had much experience in bikur cholim – visiting the sick. Even at the age of six I would accompany my saintly father on his rounds to slave labor camps where young Jewish men were incarcerated by the Hungarians prior to the Nazi occupation.
I’m learning to walk again. Every step is painful. I go with a walker. There is a security belt wrapped around my waist which the physical therapist watches carefully so that in case I stumble she will be able to catch me. As I make my way, the nurses and other health care personnel smile and congratulate me: “You’re doing wonderful! You’re doing great!”
Several weeks ago I started a series on hashgachah pratis, or Divine Providence. Every believing Jew knows that events do not just unfold randomly; the story I told of two brothers named Yaakov and Yedidya clearly testified to that reality in a contemporary setting.