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Chronicles Of Crises In Our Communities – 4/03/09

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Esther – An Update (Part 4)

Dear Readers,

Last week’s update of the unpredictable turns in Esther’s life of late had us fluctuating between highs and lows. As we revisited the tense days of a few months ago when Jewish children overseas were at war with their enemy, we identified with Esther’s anguish. Thankfully, in large part to her devoted son, she soon bounced back to recapture the glowing essence of the light that was finally shining her way.

In last week’s column, we just barely touched on the many lessons we can glean from Esther’s story and cited as an example her employer of many years who had always been a mensch but who had now performed an ultimate chesed – extending to his devoted employee a parting gift of six months pay to help smooth the way for a new beginning in her new surroundings.

Another vital lesson is being taught us by a young man, via his tremendous kibbud eim: Instead of making do with the convenience of telephone communication to alleviate his mother’s anxiety, Esther’s son embarked on a journey of many miles to personally see to her comfort and wellbeing.

Esther periodically referred to a good friend – “the only one I have” she emphasized in one of her e-mails. The friendship that began by happenstance through her job about 10 years ago has seen Esther through many dark and difficult moments since.

When Esther excitedly wrote of her decision to move to Israel (addressed at length in last week’s column), she spoke poignantly of an important detail she had attended to (in the interest of “wrapping things up” before her departure):

“Last but not least, I did something I don’t know if I should have… I went to the cemetery with my best friend to visit Aaron. I “told him” that this would probably be the last time and asked again for his forgiveness. I asked him to daven to Hashem for my success and promised him that I will always remember his yahrzeit and will go to the Kotel to say Tehillim for his neshamah.”

Esther’s depiction of her somber outing was both touching and gratifying – a sign of her having come a long way.

“Guess what, Rachel? I did NOT cry, though I was very emotional. My friend and I lit candles, we said Tehillim and we left…I did NOT turn around to look. Was that my way of saying a final good bye?”

Kudos to Esther’s special friend and to loyal, dedicated and trusting friends everywhere! Such friendships can literally save lives!

Getting back to the point at which we paused last week, when Esther’s palpable excitement about her forthcoming trip and permanent move had us cheering her on:

Aryeh called Esther to let her know that he would be here on business again just days before she was slated to take her leave, and he wondered whether he could help out in any way. She politely declined his offer of assistance, since she was about as ready as anyone could possibly be. She heard from him once more later in the week to say that coincidentally he was slated to return to Israel on the same day as she, matter of fact on the same flight, and would it be okay if he accompanied her. (Coincidence?)

“I must have swallowed my tongue because I HEARD the silence,” wrote Esther. (I didn’t need to see her to know that she was radiating joy.) That was Thursday, five days before Rosh Chodesh Adar.

On Friday, Aryeh surprised Esther by coming in for Shabbos. As her apartment was basically bare, she was staying with her friend, while Aryeh was set up at a neighbor’s home. On Sunday morning I read of Esther’s exhilaratingly beautiful Shabbos, about how they went to shul together and ate together…

On Motzaei Shabbos, Aryeh took Esther out to a lounge on the oceanfront. Upon their return from a pleasant stroll along the beach, he steered her toward a center stand that held a huge bouquet of fresh flowers. As she stood there admiring it, she noticed that a “gift box, pretty, with a bow” had a card attached that read”To Esther with Love.”

Aryeh urged her to open the box, saying it was a gift appropriate for one making Aliyah. And so she did and discovered a beautiful diamond ring along with a note that asked her to marry him!

“I almost fainted,” she wrote. “People in the lobby cheered and clapped their hands. And I cried like a baby.” And, needless to say, accepted his proposal!

Mazel Tov!!! (Though I have never met “Esther” or even spoken with her, I yet felt my heart bursting with pride and joy, as if she was my own child )

“LA-LA-LA-LA! The sun rose on me in middle of the night! Miracle of miracles!!!” sang Esther in her e-mail.

This column would be remiss if it failed to mention Esther’s frequent articulation of hakaras ha’tov (gratitude), as when she broke the news of her upcoming move: “Thank you for everything. You saved my life and put “life” back into me…”

Oh, and by this time Esther was in fine form – back to the size she’d been at age 20, having shed over 60 excess pounds! In Esther’s words, “I guess the strain of excitement, anticipation and general mixed emotions did it better than any diet. I am quite happy… to say the least.”

Perhaps the most important message of “Esther’s Story” is the one that offers hope to despairing souls and encouragement to the downtrodden, as it demonstrates that it is possible to emerge from the pits of despair. Never be afraid to dream, and never give up! As long as there is life, there is hope!

Hope, dream, and pray for in the realm of G-d, nothing is impossible! He awaits our prayers, our faith, and our belief in Him

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About the Author: We encourage women and men of all ages to send in their personal stories via email to rachel@jewishpress.com or by mail to Rachel/Chronicles, c/o The Jewish Press, 4915 16th Ave., Brooklyn, N.Y. 11204. If you wish to make a contribution and help agunot, your tax-deductible donation should be sent to The Jewish Press Foundation. Please make sure to specify that it is to help agunot, as the foundation supports many worthwhile causes.


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