There is so much tragedy, so much sham in the world, that people no longer know how to make a distinction between emes - truth, and blatant falsehood - and we Jews suffer from this plague more than others. Israel is constantly under attack, constantly demonized by a world that has become increasingly anti-Semitic, by a world that would secretly be happy to G-d forbid, see yet another Holocaust unfold.
In last week's column I published a letter from a woman in her late forties, a physician, who, despite her success, is very unhappy in her personal life. She is the child of a troubled family. Her parents divorced when she was a teenager. The separation was traumatic and left much bad feeling in its wake. The young woman was determined to make a life for herself and, in doing so, somehow missed her opportunity to marry and build a family.
Dear Rebbetzin Jungreis: I just finished reading your book, The Committed Marriage. How I wish I had discovered this wonderful book years ago. How different my life could have been.
My daughter, Slovie Jungreis Wolff, author of, Raising a Child With Soul, conducts our Hineni parenting classes. A very painful situation befell one of the young couples that attend her seminars. Like a bolt out of the blue, their five-year-old little girl was struck by devastating illness - a brain tumor. Lily (Leah Chana), an adorable precious child, fought bravely throughout endless tests, procedures, and treatments. My daughter visited her and was awed by her faith and courage. Her story impacted on the entire class, and everyone committed to more mitzvos, prayer and tzedakah on her behalf.
It is the month of Tammuz, and in a matter of days, we will inaugurate the month of Av. This is a period that from the very genesis of our history has been marked by tragedy.
As has often happened in the past, I am writing this article on an El Al plane en route to New York. At least once a year, we have a Hineni tour to Eretz Yisrael. They are always amazing and life transforming. Every day is unique and has its own flavor; every day is miraculous and spiritually elevating -this year's tour was no exception. My granddaughter, Shaindy Wolff Eisenberg, who is in charge of our Hineni activities in Israel, suggested we make this tour a "Navi event, that we trace the paths of our patriarchs and prophets.
From time-to-time, I share my personal semachos with my extended family, you, my dear readers of The Jewish Press. So it is my zechus (privilege) to publish, in this column, an article that my daughter, Slovie Jungreis Wolff (Hineni lecturer and author of Raising a Child With Soul) wrote for Aish.com, on the occasion of the Bat Mitzvah of her daughter Aliza.
In last week's column I wrote about world condemnation of Israel and, once again, she is being ostracized. This time it's because of the Flotilla fiasco. She is even castigated by her loyal friends, including Jews, for her inept PR. Even if Israel had the most brilliant, eloquent, and articulate representatives speaking on her behalf, she would still be demonized.
I am interrupting the sequence of my articles regarding questions posed by widows and widowers. B'Ezrat Hashem, I will continue that discussion in future columns. But for now, I feel compelled to address the tragic events that have once again unfolded in Eretz Yisrael. I would also like to remind our readers to daven and say Tehillim for the valorous wounded Israeli soldiers who were so savagely attacked. I make a special point of this because shockingly, I have discovered how few of us stop to consider the pain of our brethren.
Dear Rebbetzin Jungreis: For the past few weeks I have followed your articles, which focused on the pain and trauma of widowhood. Only someone who has been there can understand the loneliness. Additionally, there is guilt that the widow or widower has to deal with. As your last letter-writer indicated, we who are left behind, tend to second-guess ourselves with three haunting words - could've, should've, would've. I know because I have been, and am, still there.
In last week's column, I published a letter written by a tormented widow who agonized over what more she could or should have done for her terminally ill cancer-stricken husband. Her agonies were many: In retrospect she felt that, at the first sign of illness, she should have insisted that he consult with a specialist rather than with their local internist. She also felt guilty about the hospital she chose for his post-surgical treatment. In short, she questioned everything she did regarding his care.
Dear Rebbetzin Jungreis: I am overwhelmed by pain, have no peace and cannot sleep. Every night I lie in bed thinking, and all my thoughts cause me anguish. Please, Rebbetzin, I know how busy you are, and I apologize for the length of this letter, but in order for you to understand my suffering, I have to tell you my whole story.
Events are unfolding so rapidly that before we can absorb them, another occurs. After a while, we become inured and no longer react. Mother Nature is wreaking havoc with our environment. Add to this the collapse of the giants of finance and industry. If this were not enough, we, the Jewish people have an additional menace with which to contend - the demonization of Israel and escalation of anti-Semitism.
In last week's column I published a letter from a 76-year-old widow concerned about her future. She wanted to know whether she should sell her house in Brooklyn and move in with her daughter in Queens. She felt lonely living alone, but was concerned about being a burden to her children, although both her daughter and son-in-law assured her that would not be the case.
Dear Rebbetzin Jungreis, I don't know what to do, so I decided to seek your guidance. I am a 76-year old widow. For the past two years, my husband, my beloved partner in life, was in and out of hospitals, struggling with a devastating terminal illness - cancer of the colon. It was an agonizing experience for my family and me. His suffering was beyond words, and we tried everything. In addition to chemotherapy, we explored all the possibilities available in homeopathic and natural cures, but it was to no avail. My daughters read up on radical treatments available in Europe and researched every possible option. In short, we tried them all, but it was futile.
I have been on the road non-stop. Different countries, different languages... but in every place that Hashem grants me the privilege of speaking, it is to my people that I speak. A special language connects us that transcends all difficulties, overcomes all barriers - the language of the heart. That language is part of our Jewish DNA. Hashem Himself engraved it in our souls - it speaks more powerfully than any words and brings tears to even the most hardened, alienated eyes.
We know that there are no random happenings.... everything is orchestrated from above. From the minor to the most major, nothing escapes Hashem's attention. Our sages teach us that a man does not stub his toe without Hashem being aware of it. Behind every incident there is a wake-up call. Every morning, we recite the brachah, "HaMeichin mitzadei gaver," and thank G-d for "guiding our footsteps."
I arrived in Paris on a Monday and over 1,500 people were waiting. I do not speak French, but no matter, for there is a language that transcends all difficulties and barriers, and that is the language of our people - the language of the heart based on our timeless truths: "Words that emanate from the heart must enter into another's heart," and that is at the root of our "Jewish Law of Gravity." It is a law that never fails and its veracity has been proven in every generation, in every century. I saw it unfold a thousand and one times ... Most recently, I witnessed it in France, Hungary and Israel, and I never cease marveling at its power.
I write this column during the month of Nissan, the month when we usher in the awesome Yom Tov of Pesach, and once again, I find myself on a plane en route to New York from Eretz Yisrael. This time, I am returning from an extended trip that encompassed programs in two large cities in France - Paris and Marseilles, then a hop over to Budapest, and from there to Yerushalayim, where I spoke in Binyanei HaUmah, as well as to a group of beautiful young people...students and professionals.
I have received much e-mail from my readers in response to my series on "Why Can't I Get Married?" There is one common denominator that unites them - finding a marriage partner has become one of the most challenging problems of our generation, and the older one gets, the more formidable this simple quest becomes.
As promised, I will now try to offer some recommendations on how to find "Mr./Ms. Right." Some years ago, an attractive young non-observant woman whom I shall refer to as "Kelly" came to consult me regarding a shidduch.
Some weeks ago I published a letter from a secular Jewish woman in her mid-thirties. To all appearances, she had everything going for her - a successful career, good health, dynamic personality, many boyfriends and relationships. She wrote, however, that it all had no meaning. More than anything, she yearned to build a home and start a family, but marriage kept eluding her.
In my last column I posed a simple question: Why has that short walk down the aisle become such a long arduous trek and so painfully difficult for so many?
Last week's column evoked tremendous response. Many men contacted me expressing interest in meeting the young lady. I will be more than happy to follow-up. However, it's my policy to make shidduch recommendations only after I meet the candidates. So to all those who wrote, may I suggest you call our office for an appointment?
Dear Rebbetzin Jungreis: I'm not the type of person who writes letters for advice. As a matter of fact, I'm surprised at my own self for seeking out your guidance, but I feel so desperate and frustrated that I decided to give it a try in the hope that you could shed some light on my problem.