web analytics
March 5, 2015 / 14 Adar , 5775
At a Glance
Judaism
Sponsored Post


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.

Current Top Story
Iran's Ayatollah Ali Khamenei: With a smile like that, he couldn't possibly want to annihilate Israel, right?
Call It A Purim Miracle: Reports Say Ayatollah Khamenei In Critical Condition
Latest Judaism Stories
Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis

To the glee of all Israel haters it was Netanyahu who was accused of endangering US-Israel relations

Ki Tisa_lecture

Over and over, the text tells us about “keeping” Shabbat, about holiness, and a covenant – but why?

Aaron and  The Golden Calf by James Tissot

Aharon’s guilt with the golden calf is not clear-cut. What if Moshe were in his brother’s place?

Rabbi Sacks

The Sabbath is a full dress rehearsal for an ideal society that has not yet come to pass-but will

When Hashem told Moshe of the option to destroy the people and make him and his descendants into a great nation, Hashem was telling Moshe that it is up to him.

Just like Moses and Aaron, Mordechai decides to ruin the party…

An Auto Accident
‘All Agree That They Are Exempt’
(Kesubbos 35a)

Question: If Abraham was commanded to circumcise his descendants on the eighth day, why do Arabs – who claim to descend from Abraham through Yishmael – wait until their children are 13 to circumcise them? I am aware that this is a matter of little consequence to our people. Nevertheless, this inconsistency is one that piques my curiosity.

M. Goldman
(Via E-mail)

Why would the exemption of women from donating the half shekel exempt them from davening Musaf?

This concept should be very relevant to us as we, too, should be happy beyond description.

The Holocaust was the latest attempt of Amalek to destroy the special bond that we enjoy with God.

One can drink up to the Talmud’s criterion to confuse Mordechai and Haman-but not beyond.

“The voice is the voice of Yaakov, but the hands are the hands of Esav” gives great insight to Purim

Purim is the battleground of extremes, Amalek and Yisrael, with Zoroastrian Persia in between.

One should not give the money before Purim morning or after sunset.

More Articles from Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis
Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis

I try to be observant, davening daily, but it hasn’t awakened my heart or my mind or changed my life

Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis

France allowed Islamists to flourish despite their loyalty to Islamic sharia law not French values

“Surely,” my family insisted, “there must be someone suitable for you. You can’t be so picky.”

Shouldn’t we Jews, having experienced the barbarism of many societies, speak support the NYPD?

They stammer “I’m not Orthodox,” as if that absolves them from the responsibility of calling to G-d

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

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.”

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: