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September 20, 2014 / 25 Elul, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Hineni Center’

Dilemma (Conclusion)

Wednesday, May 5th, 2010

In last week’s column I published a letter from a 76-year-old widow concerned about her future. She wanted to know whether she should sell her house in Brooklyn and move in with her daughter in Queens. She felt lonely living alone, but was concerned about being a burden to her children, although both her daughter and son-in-law assured her that would not be the case.

She complained that although she had five children, four lived out-of- town, so it was only this one daughter in Queens upon whom she could rely. Time lay heavily on her hands. She had no special skills that she could employ, nor could she entertain any hope of finding a job, so she spent most of her day sitting in her house watching the clock.

Finally, she wanted to know if she should consider remarriage, and what the chances were of a woman her age with some health issues finding an appropriate shidduch. Would it make sense for her to consult shadchanim? Should she even bother to try?

Before responding to her letter, I would like to thank the many people who e-mailed me regarding her situation. There were offers of help and even shidduch suggestions. I passed all this information on to the widow; nevertheless, I acknowledge it publicly, for I believe that this outpouring of concern is a beautiful indication of the chesed that prevails among our people.

Ours is a generation that is beset by many problems – everyone has his own “pekel” (load) to carry. Normally, people burdened by “pekelach” give themselves license to be indifferent to the plight of others, rationalizing, “I have my own troubles… leave me alone.” But that which is normal for others is not normal for us. Baruch Hashem, in our Torah community, such apathy is shunned. The teachings of chesed of our father Abraham have taken deep root in our hearts and are engraved on our souls for all eternity.

The following is my reply:

My Dear Friend:

To be left an alman or almanah (widower or widow) is a painfully trying test, but as in all of life’s tests, we have choices. Depending upon the choices we make, we can either fail or pass. In your case, you have the choice of focusing on your widowed state, bemoaning the passing of your husband, and giving vent to resentment and anger, or you can say, “Baruch Hashem for the good long years we had together, the opportunity that Hashem granted me to be at my husband’s side and help him in his final days.”

You have the choice of feeling sorry for yourself – lamenting that only one of your children resides in New York or you can say, “Baruch Hashem, all five of my children are happily married and blessed with families, and Baruch Hashem, I have a daughter in Queens, who welcomes me into her home.”

As for your children who reside out of New York, instead of saying, “How terrible they are so far away,” you can say, “Baruch Hashem! What a wonderful opportunity they offer me… I can visit Eretz Yisrael as well as vibrant Jewish communities here in the States where my other two children reside.”

You have a choice of focusing on your lack of skills, or you can say “Baruch Hashem, I’m not beholden to anyone and don’t have to work for a living. I have the privilege of devoting myself to works of chesed and tzedakah, and can use my time meaningfully.” You have the choice of focusing on your health issues and viewing yourself as physically limited, or you can say “Baruch Hashem I don’t suffer from any ailments that prevent me from leading a productive life.”

You can focus on your loneliness, or you can say, “Baruch Hashem, I can manage. I thank Hashem for the good years I had, and I will devote the remainder of my life trying to bring simcha to others.”

I could point out some more considerations, but I’m certain that you’ve gotten the picture. Whether you live in contentment or bitterness will largely depend on how you look at things – whether you consider your cup half-full or half-empty, whether you focus on what you do or don’t have, whether you see darkness or light, blessing or curse, it’s all in your hands.

Now, as to your specific questions: 1) Should you sell your house and move in with your daughter? In my youth, I was privileged to be privy to the counsel offered by my beloved father, HaRav HaGaon Avraham HaLevi Jungreis, zt”l. I particularly recall the widows who consulted him with the very same question that you posed: “Should I move in with my children?” To all of them, my esteemed father would say “No….go for a visit, go for Shabbos, but as long as you can maintain your own home, do so.”

Then my father would add in Yiddish. “G-t zol uphiten:” G-d should protect all parents from depending upon their children. Parents should always be in a position to give rather than take. It’s good to visit, but then its good to return to your own home.

Having said all this, you might consider selling your home and buying one within walking distance of your daughter. You must do that cautiously -investigate the neighborhood in which your daughter resides and determine whether you could be happy there. Are there people living there who are of similar backgrounds with whom you can socialize? Are there support and chesed groups you can join? Is shopping for your daily needs within walking distance?

You don’t want to ask your daughter to pick up things or drive you for all your needs. If you are accustomed to going to shul on Shabbos, investigate whether the neighborhood shul is within walking distance. I also suggest that you take a good look at your present neighborhood, the people that you have come to know over the years. You might discover that there are many who would be happy to invite you for a Shabbos seudah and you might also find that there are other widows in your neighborhood with whom you can get together and make arrangements for joint Shabbos seudos.

Finally, regarding consulting a shadchan -there is certainly no harm in doing so, but as you make inquiries, do so cautiously. Your attitude should be – if someone worthwhile is recommended, good, if not, it’s also good. Do your hishtadlus – due diligence, and trust that the rest is in the Hands of Hashem.

May I also suggest that you visit us at our Hineni Center at 232 West End Avenue? It is best that you come on a Thursday evening at 8:30 when I give my shiur. You can then speak to our shidduch counselor, Phyllis Blackman, and of course, I will be happy to discuss your concerns with you as well.

May Hashem help you find strength and wisdom to live your years with meaning and dignity.

Peace At Home And Among Our People (Part One)

Friday, April 17th, 2009

In this season, when we gather around the Seder table to celebrate the birth of our nation, it behooves us to take a few moments to consider what we have learned – what we are taking with us to guide us throughout the year. Among the many priorities we should consider, surely shalom and achdus – unity – must be in the forefront. Sadly, today these pillars of our faith are missing from our families, from our communities and from the world at large. While we may not be able to influence the world, our communities or even our families, we can and must impact upon ourselves – we must emerge from this Pesach – different.

There is a well-known chassidic story about a man who was intent on changing the world – so he went to his Rebbe to ask for a brachah. The Rebbe readily gave his blessing, but after a few months of frustration, the man concluded that the task was beyond him. He returned to the Rebbe, who suggested that he scale down – the man quickly agreed and decided to concentrate on his community. But after a few weeks of trying, he came up against the same stone wall, so this time he decided to limit his efforts to his family, but here too he failed. Once again, he returned to the Rebbe, who with a piercing gaze said, Has it ever occurred to you that if you start changing, your family, your community, and yes, even the world, will change?”

So how do we change ourselves? How do we avoid the pitfalls of the past – the odious sin of sinas chinam – unwarranted jealousy and hatred that launched us into the bitter exile of Egypt and continues to enchain us in the darkness of our own exile? What must we do to be zocheh – to merit the geulah shlaimah – the redemption of our people, speedily in our own day?

The generation that lost its way in the dark galus of Mitzrayim merited redemption so that they might come to Sinai and they merited that awesome gift because at Sinai they became one B totally unified – They were as one man with one heart. It was a magic moment, but tragically, that splendid, majestic unity has been painfully absent throughout the millennia. Instead of Ahavas Yisrael, our nation has been splintered by bitter controversies, jealousies, and hatred. This toxic poison has been eating away at our people throughout the ages and is largely responsible for our first exile and for our contemporary familial and national catastrophes.

On Thursday evenings I give a shiur at our Hineni Center in Manhattan. Following the class, I see people in my office who come with all sorts of personal problems. Their backgrounds range from haredi, heimish/frum – yeshivish – Modern Orthodox,to totally secular; from young to old, from singles to married, and sadly, they all relate stories of personal pain. In addition to shidduch problems (which is a constant), I have found that the controversies that destroy families most often center on money, greed, pettiness, jealousy and kavod. To be sure, these conflicts are as old as humankind itself, but it is our mission to overcome our baser instincts and banish this poison from our hearts.

When animosity invades a family, communication all but ceases and in many instances, the hatred can be so ugly that spouses and relatives take measures to have their nearest and dearest imprisoned. When husbands and wives fight, their hatred can become so intense that, they become totally blinded to the deep and damaging scars that they inflict on their children.

This same blindness prevails when, consumed by greed, siblings sue one another, all the while remaining oblivious to the pain and shame they inflict on their parents here or in the Heavens above. Our sages teach that during the period of Chevlei Mashiach, chutzpah will abound and a man=s enemies will be among his own family. How well we know it! Alas, we are living it!

As I mentioned, I deal with these problems following my parshah shiur. Very often, I do not return home before 3:00 a.m. I do this, not because I enjoy staying up late into the night, but because, early on, I discovered that, Torah study prior to a meeting is a prerequisite to effectively reach people. Just the same, after each session I am left with a huge question – how could this happen among Jews? And an even greater question – how can heimish Yidden, who are knowledgeable and well versed, be a part of this? Have we not suffered enough at the hands of the Hitlers of every generation? Why can’t we follow the teachings of our Torah and forgive and fargin each other?

I hear the words of my dear, revered Tatty, HaRav HaGaon Avraham Halevi Jungreis, zt”l. With tears in his eyes, he would say in Yiddish, “After such a Holocaust, we have to embrace every Jew with love. And every Yom Kippur, he would come before his congregation with the same plea: There are people among us who are not talking to their parents, to their brothers, to their sisters, to their relatives, neighbors and former friends… Heint iz Yom Kippur B today is Yom Kippur, we cannot come before Hashem unless we forgive one another, do chesed for one another… But somehow we still fail to absorb the message. Why?”

Most Jewish Press readers are, Baruch Hashem, familiar with the genesis of our history B the jealousy and the hatred of the brothers for Joseph that launched us into a long, dark exile. But it is one thing to cerebrally understand, and something else again to absorb that knowledge into our hearts. Not in vain does the Torah warn us, And you shall know today and you shall absorb it into your heart.  There are just a few inches from the mind to the heart, but it is a gap that is very difficult to bridge. So it is that a man may know something intellectually, but if his heart fails to comprehend, it’s all to no avail.

Thus, even though we know our history, and even though we know that sibling rivalry and hatred were at the root of our Egyptian enslavement, we have yet to internalize that lesson and place it into our hearts. The hatred that enveloped Yosef continues to fragmentize us. Its toxic fumes continue to infiltrate our homes. The distinguished and the learned, the simple and unschooled, the rich as well as the poor, have all fallen victim to it. Since the Holocaust, we have witnessed a phenomenal and miraculous resurgence of Jewish life – the ba’al teshuvah movement, the proliferation of yeshivot, Torah study and observance of mitzvot – but this progress has yet to be paralleled by ahavas Yisrael and shalom bayis in our families. Why? And what can we do to once and for all neutralize this venom that continues to eat away at the moral fiber of our people?

(Continued Next Week)

50,000 Tulip Bulbs From Holland Donated To Jerusalem

Wednesday, November 26th, 2008

 The city of Jerusalem recently was the recipient of a magnanimous donation  of 50,000 tulip bulbs from the Netherlands as representatives of the Dutch chapter of Christians For Israel made their presentation at the Hineni Center in Zion Square.

  Benjamin Phillips, director of Hineni in Jerusalem – the Torah outreach organization founded by  Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis  – and is of Dutch descent, was asked by the municipality of Jerusalem to host this special event at the Center in honor of the longstanding friendship between Christian Zionists from Holland and  the State of Israel.

 

 

Mayor Uri Lopianski, Mr. Dick Schutte

 

 Phillips expressed his appreciation to the Dutch contingent for the “donation of the tulip bulbs for the beautification of Jerusalem.”

 Mr. Dick Schutte, chairman of the Board of Christians For Israel in Holland, told attendees that the giving of tulips is a sign of friendship and encouragement in Holland, and spoke of the “unbreakable bond” of friendship that exists between Christians who support Israel and the Jewish people.

 “As Christians, we know that the Bible tells us that whoever blesses the Jewish people shall be blessed and as such we are cognizant of the fact that the Jewish nation is indeed God’s  chosen people, so it is  our honor and privilege to donate these tulip bulbs  to Jerusalem.”

  The event’s featured speaker was outgoing mayor of Jerusalem, Uri  Lopianski who expressed gratitude and appreciation to CFI on behalf of the city of Jerusalem.

 Lopianski also recalled that he began his term as mayor at the opening ceremony of the Hineni Center and “now I am back here at the end of my term for another special dedication.”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/community//2008/11/26/

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