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.
I write this column during Parshas Yisro - the portion that focuses on Matan Torah -The Giving of the Torah. Paradoxically, the parshah is not entitled Matan Torah or Aseret HaDibrot - The Ten Commandments, or even Moshe Rabbeinu, who brought the commandments down from Sinai. Amazingly, the parshah is named for Yisro, the heathen priest. What did Yisro do to merit such distinction?
Most of you, my dear readers, are aware that many moons ago I was privileged to establish Hineni -the first kiruv (outreach) -movement, with the exception of Chabad. However, what many of you may not know is the extent to which Hineni mushroomed throughout the years and how it has expanded its activities to include many areas of outreach that range from beginners' Torah classes to in-depth study of the Talmud, from small tots programs to shidduch introductions, from young couples to parenting seminars, from Shabbatons to High Holy Day Services, and from in-house to office and home study classes, to live webcasts that reach Jewish communities throughout the world.
In response to my recent articles describing the odysseys of secular Jews who found their way home, I received much e-mail. One is the story of a young woman whose journey is typical of the angst with which assimilated Jews often struggle. But what is obvious in this woman's journey is Hashem's Providence. We need only open our eyes to discern it.
I have often been told that, when it comes to Jewish self-discovery -teshuvah, it is easier to reach out to females than to males and, indeed, there are some indications of this. But I have found this theory to be wrong. If, in some circles, there are more females attending Torah study programs, it is only because the men have not yet been tapped. The truth is that the pintele Yid is as potent in males as females and is able to ignite the heart of a man even as that of a woman. Just as the pintele Yid is not affected by the ravages of time, so it is not subject to gender differences.
As I indicated in my last column, there are a thousand-and-one inspirational stories that I could share with you, testifying to the pintele Yid embedded for all eternity in every Jewish heart. It might be a book, speech, Shabbos experience, a hug, kind word, or a blessing from a bubby, zeidy, rabbi or Torah teacher. In an instant, that pintele Yid can come to life, make a journey that spans thousands of years and reconnect the soul to Sinai - and thus, every day, Yiddishe neshamos are reborn.