web analytics
December 22, 2014 / 30 Kislev, 5775
 
At a Glance
Judaism
Sponsored Post
8000 meals Celebrate Eight Days of Chanukah – With 8,000 Free Meals Daily to Israel’s Poor

Join Meir Panim’s campaign to “light up” Chanukah for families in need.



What Really Constitutes ‘Compassion’? (Pt. II)


Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis

Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis

How do we teach our children, and more importantly ourselves, the art of kindness and compassion? How do we become better people? Is there a university that teaches us kindness, sensitivity or consideration for one another?

As a Holocaust survivor I can testify to the fact that there is not one such university or other educational institution that does so. I saw the graduates of the most revered universities become lower then beasts – maiming, torturing and slaughtering without a pang of conscience, without ever losing sleep. They were the products of the enlightened 20th century. Among them were scientists, academics, attorneys and physicians. They so easily became ruthless murderers.

Some will protest that I’m drawing on an extreme example. The Nazis were an anomaly in history. Really? Just turn to our Torah and study the very genesis of our history and you will discover the first holocaust, in Egypt, the Jewish people had to endure. Even as Hitler did, Pharaoh forced us into slave labor. Even as Hitler, who herded children into gas chambers, Pharaoh bricked our little ones into the walls of Egypt and those walls cried. They cried with agony and the parents who heard the cries cried even louder.

Since that first holocaust the Jewish people have had no respite. “B’chol dor v’dor” – in every generation there were those who aimed to annihilate us but the Holy One saved us from their clutches.

No, there is nothing new about the brutality that saturates our culture today – and yet there is. Even as the Nazis were able to harness 20th century technology to kill millions, our new 21st century gadgets also render havoc. We have become indifferent to the cry and pain of others.

Who would have imagined that through the wonder of personal computers and the Internet, hatred and venom would spread and infect the world to the extent it has? We have new toys – iPhones, iPods, iPads – that render us blind and deaf to our fellow man. We are always busy, not only at work but even as we walk on the street or sit down to a family meal, as these gadgets never leave us. We have created a robotic, decadent society. We can no longer identify with traits such as kindness and commitment. Apathy and callousness have taken over our lives.

A painful question: How well are we doing in our Jewish communities, schools, and, more importantly, homes? Is chesed – loving kindness – the principal by which we live? Do our children see chesed in our schools, our homes?

The story of Joseph should be the guiding light of our lives. At the age of 17 he was the lone Jew in Egypt. Whether he was in bondage, prison or the palace of Pharaoh, he was never oblivious to the priorities a Jew must cherish and hold dear. How was he able to accomplish such a feat? The answer is easy – and yet for us so complex. We simply do not have the tools he had.

Dyukno shel aviv – the image of his saintly father Jacob” never departed from his heart or his mind. It was that image that kept him anchored and it is that image that separates one man from another; the image of chesed that can render one a brute or an angel of kindness.

But the question still remains: How do we impart such lofty teachings? We have to recognize a simple teaching of our Torah: “Lev adam rah m’neurov – the heart of man is wicked from his inception.” Humans are not born good or kind, generous or compassionate. These are traits that must be learned. While our little ones are adorable and sweet, they can also be selfish and full of chutzpah. They must learn to say “thank you” and “please” and “excuse me.” They must learn how to share, how to give, how to be kind. No easy feat in our self-obsessed culture.

My revered husband, HaRav Meshulem HaLevi Jungreis, zt”l, would often tell me that in Europe even before morning davening the boys would learn mussar – teachings that focus on ethical conduct. Sadly, this is a subject that is hardly taught in our yeshivas these days.

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.

2 Responses to “What Really Constitutes ‘Compassion’? (Pt. II)”

  1. Gloria Rivera says:

    Beautiful lesson on compassion. May God continue to use you in writing such anecdotes that have His grace and unconditional love in it so many of us can learn to emulate such love. God knows the whole world is in such dire need of such wholesome values. Thank you so very much you beautiful lady..<3.

  2. Gloria Rivera says:

    May you all enjoy this beautiful story on compassion..so beautifully done and will surely touch your heart. Enjoy!

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
A third assault in France in which assailant yelled "Allahu Akbar" before attacking others.
Another French ‘Allahu Akbar’ Attack, Driver Slams into Crowd
Latest Judaism Stories

What does the way we count the days of Chanukah come to teach us about living in the present?

Knesset and Menorah

Israel projects global material illumination not always the light of “morality” meant by the Navi

Parsha-Perspective-Logo-NEW

To many of our brethren Chanukah has lost its meaning.

Parsha-Perspective-Logo-NEW

This ability to remain calm under pressure and continue to see the situation clearly is a hallmark of Yehuda’s leadership.

It would have been understandable for these great warriors to become dispirited.

The travail of Yosef was undoubtedly the greatest trauma of Yaakov’s life, which certainly knew its share of hardships.

Yosef, in interpreting the first set of dreams, performed in a manner that was clearly miraculous to all.

Chazal teach us that we need to be “sur may’rah v’asei tov,”avoid bad and do good.

When we celebrate the completion of learning a section of Torah, we recite the Hadran.

Fetal Immersion?
‘The Fetus Is A Limb Of Its Mother’
(Yevamos 78a)

Yosef proves he is a true leader; He is continually and fully engaged in the task of running Egypt

When the inability cannot be clearly attributed to either spouse, the halacha is the subject of debate among the Rishonim.

Those who reject our beliefs know in their souls Jewish power stems from our faith and our prayers.

He stepped outside, and, to his dismay, the menorah was missing. It had been stolen.

Though we Jews have deep obligations to all people our obligation to our fellow Jew is unique.

In a way that decision was the first in a series of miracles with which Hashem blessed us.

More Articles from Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis
Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis

Prayer is our language: Hakol kol Yaakov – the voice is the voice of Jacob – the voice of prayer.

Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis

When art and evil are intermingled, evil is elevated and made acceptable.

In BB, he said “You, my children are the angels of Shabbos and the licht are your beautiful eyes.”

Why does Hebrew refer to mothers-in-law as “sunshine” when society often calls them the opposite?

Boundaries must be set in every home. Parents and children are not pals. They are not equals.

The call of the shofar is eternal. It is not musical. Its magnetic allurement cannot be explained.

We recently marked the thirteenth anniversary of 9/11 – that terrible day when the symbols of man’s power and achievement crumbled before our eyes and disappeared in fire and smoke. For a very brief moment we lost our smugness. Our confidence was shaken. Many of us actually searched our ways. Some of us even learned […]

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

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/rebbetzins-viewpointrebbetzin-jungreis/what-really-constitutes-compassion-part-two/2013/01/16/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: