Sometimes, messages come to us from the most unexpected sources. While, Baruch HaShem, there is currently a substantial upsurge in commitment to Torah and mitzvos, and statistics demonstrate that the Orthodox community is experiencing an unprecedented resurgence, sadly, there is also a flip side to this story.
As I write this column, it is motzei Shabbos, parshas Shelach, and the parsha demands that I address a subject which I have of late refrained from writing about.
Our first letter writer established a gemach for simcha gowns which she runs from her home. She has undertaken this mitzva with dedication and love, and gives of herself with a full heart. However, in order for a gemach to operate successfully, it is important that they be well stocked with quality merchandise... and here is where our letter writer has met with frustration.
Special Note: Several weeks ago, I received two letters regarding gemach problems. For those of our readers who are unfamiliar with the term, gemachs are organizations found in every Torah community to help families who are in financial straits. Interestingly enough, the two letters that I received describe gemach problems from different perspectives - one speaks about the responsibilities of the donors, and the other about the responsibilities of the recipients. They each make valid points that should be addressed.
For the past several weeks, I have published letters that focus on the problems of children and teenagers who, despite the fact that they are yeshiva students and come from good Torah homes, are nevertheless deprived.
Dear Rebbetzin Jungreis:I am a 14-year-old teenager. I read your column regularly, as do all the members of my family. The letter that you published from "A Concerned Mother" who described the goings-on amongst teenagers struck a sensitive chord. Unfortunately, she was right on target.
Special Note: For the past few weeks, we have been discussing the sad state of little children who are abandoned to the care of maids.
Dear Rebbetzin Jungreis: I have a feeling that you will be inundated with endless letters and stories relating to those shared in your article entitled "Where Are The Moms And Dads?" I am compelled to share two of my own experiences with you.
Special Note: In last week's column, I published two letters expressing concern at the sight of parents dumping their children on caretakers so that they might better enjoy their Pesach vacation.
Dear Rebbetzin Jungreis:I spent Pesach in what would appear to be idyllic surroundings. We stayed at a beautiful hotel, where we were served sumptuous meals and were entertained every evening of Chol Hamoed. Even the weather conformed. Our rooms were perfectly and strategically locatedoverlooking a spacious garden and in close proximity to the dining room. As such, I had ample opportunities to observe the children who played in this garden.
Special Note: I would like to take this opportunity to express my heartfelt appreciation to the many people who have written to express their good wishes for hatzlacha upon the publication of my new book, "The Committed Marriage." These letters are very meaningful to me and have given me much chizuk. Please forgive me if I cannot respond to each letter individually, but during the coming months I am scheduled to speak throughout the United States and I look forward to greeting you and personally signing your copy of my book.
As Jews and Americans, we have a special obligation to show our gratitude to Hashem. This obligation takes on special significance this year. Baruch Hashem, we have been witness to yeshuos Hashem - the salvation of G-d. While we could have expected terrible calamities to befall our brethren in Eretz Yisrael as the war was raging in Iraq, HaShem protected them.
Dear Friends: Before responding to your specific concerns, I would like to make some disclaimers: 1) Please bear in mind that whatever reasons I advance in response to your questions will not be definitive. 2) My column is not a forum for halachic discussion - that is in the purview of our rabbis.
I was recently invited to speak to our Jewish brethren in Australia. Prior to my arrival in Sydney, I received a phone call from a local resident asking if I could find a few minutes during my stay to visit her elderly, ailing father. She went on to explain that as a young man, her father had been in a slave labor camp in Szeged, the city of my birth in Hungary, where myfather, Rabbi Avraham HaLevi Jungreis, zt'l, was the Chief Orthodox Rabbi. Prior to our deportation to the concentration camps, the Hungarians conscripted all the Jewish young men for slave labor, and our city, Szeged, was one of the major gathering places in which they were assembled prior to being shipped out.
Special Note: In last week's column I shared with you the first part of a letter from an American gentile who lives in Munich, Germany, describing the covert and overt anti-Semitism that continues to plague that country, and for that matter, the world. The letter once again reinforces the old truth, we remain "one lamb among 70 wolves" and those wolves stand ready to pounce upon us and devour us. We dare not forget that we have only One Friend, and that is Avinu She'Bashamayim, our Heavenly Father.
Special Note: A Kollel young man, while recuperating from illness read my book, The Committed Life, and with great chesed and hakoras hatov, took the time to write an in-depth letter (which will appear in two parts) to explain his views on the book and how it impacted on his life. I am pleased to share with you his analysis and insights. He is right on the mark! I wish him a refuah shleima and mazal and bracha and thank him for the chizuk that he imparted.
Dear Rebbetzin Jungreis:Last year, I read your book, "The Committed Life," and ever since, nothing has been quite the same for me.
Special Note: In last week's column I wrote about the very painful situation in Israel, but as the tragedy keeps escalating, I once again feel impelled to share some thoughts.
So many images keep crowding my mind. Images that do not allow me to rest or feel at peace.
Special Note: Several weeks ago, I published a letter from a young kollel wife who wrote of the conflict that she was experiencing in trying to be an akeres habayis - wife and mother, and at the same time a breadwinner for her family.
Special Note: I am interrupting the sequence of my columns regarding Kollel wives to comment on the events that have unfolded during the past few days.
Special Note: A few weeks ago, I published two letters - one from a Kollel wife, the second from a young woman who was aspiring to become one.
In last week's column, I published a letter from a young family who had started life as secular Jews and later became ba'alei tshuva.
Dear Rebbetzin Jungreis: My husband and I are the proud parents of six children, bli ayn hara. We are Yeshivishe people and live on a modest, tight budget.