web analytics
September 24, 2014 / 29 Elul, 5774
At a Glance
Judaism
Sponsored Post
Meir Panim with Soldiers 5774 Roundup: Year of Relief and Service for Israel’s Needy

Meir Panim implements programs that serve Israel’s neediest populations with respect and dignity. Meir Panim also coordinated care packages for families in the South during the Gaza War.



The Key To A Meaningful Life

Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis

Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis

My saintly father, HaRav HaGoan HaTzaddik Avraham HaLevi Jungreis, zt”l, taught me that before I address an audience I should ask myself, “What will the people take home from my message? What am I giving? Will it enhance their lives? Will it bring the individual closer to Hashem? Will it be a life-altering experience?”

To paraphrase these questions and apply them to the Pesach holiday we just celebrated, let us ask ourselves, “What did we take home from the sedarim, from this awesome Yom Tov?” I’m not referring to resolutions of going on a diet. Actually, I guess I am speaking about a diet – a diet that can nourish our souls rather than our bodies. When I say “diet” I’m not referring to just any food; for diets to be effective they must include all kinds of nutrients that keep one healthy and strong.

The Haggadah has many nutritious ingredients and if we desire a healthy changeover it’s best to include all the specifications. Obviously in the limited space of this column we cannot explore the beneficial effects of each ingredient. There is, however, one nutrient that resurfaces throughout the Haggadah: HaKoras HaTov – gratitude, appreciation.

In my previous column I focused on the beneficial effects of gratitude, of finding happiness in what G-d has given us and not obsessing about what our neighbors have. What I will share with you now is not vacuous pontification but what I lived and experienced.

When we arrived in the United States in 1947 my parents rented a small, dilapidated basement apartment in the East Flatbush section of Brooklyn. We had been in our new residence no more than a few weeks when I suddenly fell ill. It was one of those common childhood diseases but I was running a very high fever and my parents didn’t know where to find a doctor.

An angel of mercy, one of our neighbors, appeared at our door. She called her doctor and asked him to make a house call. She took care of the bill and in every way proved to be a precious, supportive friend. My parents never allowed me to forget that kindness. Every Erev Shabbos, when my mother baked delicious challahs and cakes, there would be a package for this neighbor ready for me to deliver. Years later when I got married, she was seated in a place of honor at my wedding.

In retrospect one might argue that our neighbor didn’t do anything remarkable. A family of Holocaust survivors arrives from Europe, broken and destitute. Their little girl falls ill and they don’t know where to turn. You have to have a heart of stone not to help. But my father taught us never to take any act of kindness lightly. Gratitude is one of the pillars on which our faith if based. From the moment we wake up in the morning to the time we go to sleep at night we are called on to declare praise and thanks to G-d. Our first words must be a proclamation of appreciation to the Almighty for having returned our souls and renewing our contract. No aspect of life is to be taken for granted – a glass of water, a tree in bloom, a rainbow in the sky – all be acknowledged with a blessing to G-d.

We do this because G-d commanded us to, but the benefits for our lives are infinite. Through this process we learn to see good in the myriad things that most people take for granted. In our morning prayers we delineate all the miracles that at first glance appear to be natural but in essence are the greatest gift from G-d, and we thank Him for each and every one of them. The ability to open our eyes, move our limbs, eliminate waste, etc., are all gifts from the Almighty. Admittedly, those who are not familiar with the Torah way of life might smile or even laugh at this, but can there be a greater blessing than a body that is functioning well? Too many of us come to this realization only after we lose it – and then it is too late.

The Torah teaches that one of the reasons our suffering in exile was decreed was that we did not rejoice in all the good that G-d had granted us (Deuteronomy 28:47). At first glance it might be difficult to understand why we would be so self-destructive and not take pleasure in the many gifts of life, but by nature humans are malcontents. No sooner do they acquire something than they want something more. “He who has one hundred desires two hundred” is a teaching of our wise sages.

The Torah therefore prescribed for us a way of life in which we must be constantly focused on the blessings that are part and parcel of everyday living. The “what have you done for me lately” attitude simply doesn’t exist in Torah vocabulary. Any favor rendered, no matter how long ago, must be remembered and acknowledged.

Thousands of years ago G-d brought us forth from Egyptian bondage, and to this day we thank Him – not only on Seder night but every day in our prayers and through the mitzvos we perform. It is not only G-d and our fellow man to whom we must express gratitude; the Torah teaches that we must show appreciation even to objects. Moses was not permitted to strike the Nile when the plagues descended upon Egypt because as an infant he was saved by those waters.

This concept of gratitude is probably the most important lesson a human being can internalize, for once mastered it guarantees happiness and a meaningful, joy-filled life. People run here and there, dabbling in every available therapeutic program, but they fail to understand that happiness is waiting for them right in their own minds and hearts. They need only acquire the attribute of gratitude and learn to thank G-d for the many blessings of life.

(To Be Continued)

About the Author:


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “The Key To A Meaningful Life”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
NY rally against Met Opera's 'Death of Klinghoffer' opera. Sept. 22, 2014.
New York City Site of Huge Rally Against Met’s Klinghoffer Opera
Latest Judaism Stories
Lessons-in-Emunah-new

Why am I getting so agitated? And look how we’re treating each other!

Taste-of-Lomdus-logo

While women are exempt from actually learning Torah, they are obligated in a different aspect of the mitzvah.

Questions-Answers-logo

Question: I recently loaned money to a friend who has been able to repay only part of it. This was an interest-free loan. We exchanged a signed IOU, not a proper shtar with witnesses, since I have always trusted her integrity and only wanted a document that confirms what was loaned and what was repaid. Now that shemittah is approaching, what should I do? Should I forgive the loan? And if my friend is not able to repay it, may I deduct the unpaid money from my ma’aser requirement?

Name Withheld

Grunfeld-Raphael-logo

We must eat, sleep, work, and care for our dependants. How much time is left over after all that?

Once we recognize that our separation from God is our fault, how do we repair it?

Chatzitzah And Its Applications
‘Greater Stringency Applies To Hallowed Things…’
(Chagiga 20b-21a)

To choose life, you must examine your actions in the period preceding the Days of Awe as an unbiased stranger, and render your decision.

Rabbi Dayan took a challah and some cooked eggs. He then called over his 15-year-old son, Aharon. “Could you please ask your friend Chaim from next door to come over and help me with the eruv tavshilin?”

This world has its purpose; it has been ideally fashioned to allow man to grow.

A statement issued by the Frenkel, Yifrach and Sha’ar families thanks Israel for ‘justice served.’

Hamas’ tunnels were destroyed as were plans for their unparalleled terror attacks on Rosh Hashana.

Perhaps the most important leadership lesson Elkana taught us is to never underestimate the difference a single person can make.

“he’s my rabbi” the Black painter said with pride, pulling out a photo of the Rebbe from his wallet

The Torah notes that even when we are dispersed God will return us to Him.

Simply, for Rambam the number 14 (2×7) was his favored organizing principle.

More Articles from Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis
Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis

One of the cornerstones of our Jewish life is chesed, kindness. Chesed can only be taught by example

Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis

“There is nothing new under the sun” is as valid today as it was yesterday.

The time immediately preceding Mashiach’s arrival is likened to the birth pangs of a woman in labor.

If we regard pain and suffering as mere coincidence, we will feel no motivation to examine our lives

What does Hashem want of us? That we should protect each other and the awesome heritage He gave us.

Gratitude=Great Attitude. Appreciation is always appropriate.

The two words “thank you” have no time expiration; even if spoken after many years they’re as potent as ever.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/rebbetzins-viewpointrebbetzin-jungreis/the-key-to-a-meaningful-life/2013/04/10/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: