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April 19, 2014 / 19 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Holy Tongue’

I Am Saddened (Conclusion)

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2009

In last week’s column I responded to the mother/grandmother who wrote about the escalation of chutzpah on the part of the young vis-à-vis their parents. In my answer I suggested that we have adopted some 21st century attitudes that not only countenance this obstreperous behavior but actually endorse it. I also mentioned that while we may take certain consolation in knowing that our sages predicted what we are experiencing today, nevertheless, it does not mean that we of the Torah community should countenance it. Chutzpah toward parents/grandparents, teachers and elders in any shape or form is unacceptable.

There is a well-known Yiddish saying, “Azoi vee ess…” The way the non-Jewish world goes, so goes the Jewish world,” meaning that we are very much influenced by our environment. Without realizing it, we often adopt the norms of society even when those norms negate our Torah way of life.

No matter how turbulent the spiritual climate of our generation may be, we have a mandate to live by the timeless truths proclaimed at Sinai. Moreover, we have a responsibility to insulate ourselves and our children from the corrosive influences of the secular world, but in order for us to do that we will first have to identify them.

In last week’s column, I discussed a few of those influences, and now I will put forth some additional popular catch phrases that have come to be regarded as “truisms” in our culture, but which, in essence, are antithetic to our Torah way of life.

1) “It’s my life.” “I can do whatever I choose.”

When young people come to see me with their troubled parents they often try to justify their hostile behavior by rationales such as, “It’s my life… Leave me alone… Get off my back…I can do whatever I want…”

In response, I ask them, “Your life? … Is it really your life? … Perhaps you can tell me what part of it you created? Your fingers, toes, eyes? What part?”

“Tell me,” I continue to challenge, “did you choose the family into which you were born? Did you interview potential parents and decide who would be the right candidates for you? Or perhaps you designed yourself to be short or tall, male or female? So what exactly do you mean when you say, “It’s my life? What part of it did you create?”

2) Hakaras HaTov – Gratitude

“Know,” I tell them that your life was given to you in trust by G-d for reasons known only to Him, and you will have to give an accounting for every second, every hour, every day that you spent on this planet. Moreover, it was G-d who appointed your parents to become your mother and father. It was He who chose to place you into your family. It was He who decided that you would live in the 20th /21st century, and it was He who designed the challenges through which your life would be tested.

No matter how vehemently you protest that it’s your life and you are free to do as you wish, you are accountable and will have to answer for every moment that He gave you. Most importantly, you have a responsibility to convey your hakaras tov – gratitude – to Hashem and to your parents, for that is the very first step in fulfilling the mission for which you were created.

From the moment you open your eyes and whisper “Modeh Ani – I thank You for returning my soul” – to the moment that you close your eyes, you dare not lose sight of this truth…. you are indebted to the three partners who created you: G-d, your mother, and your father.

Lashon HaKodesh is G-d’s Holy Tongue. Every word is definitive, so Modeh is not only an expression of thanks, but it also means “I confess.” When you say, “thank you,” you are confirming that you are indebted, that you “owe someone,” that you have to give back and make this world a better place to justify the gift of life that G-d granted you.

There was a time when this wisdom was so basic to our faith that every child was aware of it. Honoring parents and revering G-d was the milk on which children were nurtured. I recall my own childhood. We were raised to live by this credo – to express our gratitude to Hashem, to bring honor to His Holy Name, and at the same time, strive to be a source of nachas to our parents. We hoped to make them proud and shield them from grief. Instead of feeling entitled, we felt indebted; instead of declaring, “It’s coming to me,” we knew that no matter how much we gave, we could never adequately thank them.

I remember how shocked I was when, upon coming to America, I heard one of my classmates say, “My mother owes me $2.00 for babysitting. How could a parent owe anything to a child, I wondered, and more, how could a child even entertain such a thought?

If we could help our parents ease their burdens, we regarded it a privilege. How happy we children were if we could make a little money babysitting for neighbors so that we could add to the family coffers. This desire to ease our parents’ lives was a constant – it never dissipated – if anything, it intensified with the years.

When my beloved husband, zt”l and I were married, we didn’t even open the envelopes that guests handed us, but we immediately gave them to my father to help defray the wedding expenses. And to my husband’s credit (he was also a Holocaust survivor and penniless), there was never a question in his mind that we would do that with the wedding gifts.

Contrast all this with the demands made by children nowadays. Consider the attitude with which they take their gifts, the indifference with which they view their parents who very often are compelled to take on extra jobs in order to fulfill their children’s expectations, and think about the resentment that their children harbor if those expectations are not met.

The aforementioned are just a few cultural manifestations that generate chutzpah and I invite you to ponder them. There are many more, not the least of which is “scapegoating – shifting blame.” “It’s not my fault I come from a dysfunctional family…. I am the victim of a bankrupt educational system… I was subject to child abuse.” The complaints are endless, and they all serve to exonerate the individual from responsibility and indulge in self-pity. Instead of teaching those who feel victimized to pull themselves up by their bootstraps and start anew, we allow them to wallow in the past and succumb to spiritual and emotional paralysis.

But no one need grope in the darkness. We have been given an awesome gift – Torah. Its power is such that it can mold us into new people and actually recreate us. We need only seize it and it will illuminate our paths on the great highway of life.

Please G-d, in a future column, I will write on this subject in detail.

What Will It Take For Us To Get It?

Wednesday, December 17th, 2008

Those of you who have been following my column and those of you who have read my books, especially Life Is A Test, know that in the closing chapters, I focus on Acharit HaYamim – the days that will precede our Redemption, known as Chevlei Moshiach – the birth pangs that will herald the coming of Messiah. If you are familiar with those prophecies, there is nothing astonishing about that which has befallen us in Mumbai and the world at large. It has all been predicted thousands of years ago, and I spelled it all out in Life Is A Test.

But that which we are doing to ourselves in Eretz Yisrael – attacking our own people and protecting those who are sworn to annihilate us, is beyond words, although that too has been predicted. Nevertheless, the pain is too great to bear.

I have written and said many times in my lectures that it is pointless to ask “why” because there are no clear answers to “why.” “Why” can only lead to bitterness, cynicism, and depression. In Lashon HaKodesh – the Holy Tongue, however, everything takes on a different dimension, for in the Holy Tongue, every word is definitive. In Lashon HaKodesh, not only can we ask “why,” but we must ask “why.” There are two words in Hebrew that are translated into the vernacular as “why” – “madua” and “lamah.”

Madua literally means “Mah Dei’ah – What do we learn from this?” How do we grow from this? What wisdom can we glean from this? And “Lamah” means “L’ mah” – To what end?” What is the ultimate goal, the higher purpose? So what can we learn from the two tragedies that have befallen our people? What lessons can we imbibe that can protect us in the future? And specifically, what can we learn from Mumbai and Chevron?

If you recall, during the presidential campaign, I mentioned in one of my columns that I found it curious that not one of the candidates, in the course of their many debates and discussions, ever referred to Islamic terrorists. It appears that that term was politically incorrect. This was all the more difficult to understand since we in America have had first-hand experience with their satanic savagery. On 9/11, we tasted their brutality and the carnage that they were capable of inflicting, and yet, strangely enough, we have forgotten who was actually responsible for that day of infamy.

In Israel, acts of terror are daily fare – they are not new phenomena, but unfortunately, have been going on for years. And I am not just referring to Sderot, Gaza and the Golan, but to Yerushalayim, Tel Aviv, Netanya, and all the cities and villages of Israel. Carnage has taken place everywhere, on buses, trains, streets, shopping centers and schools. No one has been spared. These attacks have become so commonplace that they don’t even make the news anymore. The world rationalizes it away by placing the onus of responsibility on Israel rather than on the Islamic terrorists.

Israel has been demonized and held accountable for Islamic savagery, and amazingly, the Leftist Israeli Government and media have also bought these lies. Even as the present lame-duck prime minister prepares to leave office, he continues to wreak havoc -to release from prison vicious killers that slaughtered our people – killers who have only one agenda – to annihilate Jews. The IDF is commanded to exercise restraint even as rockets rain down on Israel; Shalit remains in captivity. Yet the Israeli Government opts to send money to Gaza to relieve the financial crisis, and as if this were not enough, Olmert and his cohorts keep offering to give away even more land. As far as he and his colleagues are concerned, Chevron was only the beginning!

Never in the annals of history has a sovereign government uprooted its own people and given away their homes and their land to those who are sworn to kill, exterminate and annihilate her citizens, and yet, not only has Israel done just that, but is continuing on this suicidal course.

But sadly that which has been unfolding in Israel has not awakened anyone to the jeopardy into which we have been placed and continue to place ourselves.

But Mumbai is different. The massacre in Mumbai cannot be blamed on the “Zionist devils” – for this carnage, there can be no rationalization to hold Israel accountable. This time even the most leftist, liberal multiculturalists would find it difficult to lay the blame at Israel’s feet. And yet, the world media, including ours here in the United States, still refuses to get it, and worse, most of our people don’t get it either.

CNN, BBC, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, even the psychology guru, Deepak Chopra, all spoke in euphemisms when referring to the Islamic terrorist slaughter in Mumbai. Euphemisms that have positive connotations, like “militants” and other generic terms that sanitize the evil of Islamic terror. Not only do these euphemisms fail to identify the true nature of the danger they represent, but more pointedly, they refuse to acknowledge the component of Jew hatred that led to the slaughter at the Chabad House.

Just consider for a moment – how does a little Jewish Chabad house in India become the target in an India-Pakistan/Muslim-Hindu conflict? The Chabad House had been cased by Islamic terrorists pretending to be Malaysian students, who wanted to learn more about Judaism, and were given warm hospitality by Rabbi and Rebbetzin Holtzberg. They had photographs and diagrams of every part of the building, and were there for only one reason – to kill Jews because they were Jews.

The Indian physician who examined the dead stated in a voice wracked with emotion that of all the victims, the greatest torture was inflicted on the Jews. Their bodies showed that they had endured terrible pain and suffering before they were brutally murdered. The Israeli forensic team could not identify the victims by their faces, but had to rely on DNA tests and dental records to identify them, for the torture that they had endured was barbaric. The one live captured terrorist, openly admitted that they were under specific orders to torture and kill the Jews. And yet, despite all this, the international media does not admit to the Jewish character of the attack – or that the Chabad House was intentionally targeted.

All of this takes me back to the days of the Holocaust, when the media reported on the Nazi invasion and takeover of Czechoslovakia, Poland, France, etc., but somehow failed to report the annihilation of European Jewry, or passed over it as an insignificant sidebar. And yet we have learned nothing.

During the past weeks, the parshiot that we read are from Sefer Bereishis. Each parshah is instructive and speaks to us, for the stories of our patriarchs and matriarchs are not “Bible stories.” Everything that they experienced was meant as a sign for us, their children: “Ma’aseh Avos, siman l’banim.” In Parshas Vayishlach, it is written “VaYivaser Yaakov levado” – Jacob found himself alone in the darkness, and he had to struggle with the forces of evil until the sun rose…” teaching us that we, the Jewish people, will always find ourselves alone in the darkness of our Exile. And no nation will come to our aid, so we will always have to struggle, and that struggle will continue until the sun rises and Messiah comes. And now, we have entered that period.

What we are witnessing today are the painful birth pangs of the final days, although sadly, we do not comprehend it. We are frightened and terrified, but we do not see the Hand of G-d.

It has been foretold that, during that time, Ishmael [Islamic jihadists] will inflict the most savage, brutal acts upon our people and terrorize the entire world. And this nightmare will be accompanied by other horrific events – natural disasters, terrible illnesses, disease, and unprecedented chutzpah – the collapse of our cherished icons.

If, just a year ago, someone had told us that the giants of finance and industry would disappear before our very eyes, and our government would be ridden with corruption and chaos, we would have ridiculed them and labeled them delusional. Yet it is occurring before our very eyes, and we don’t get it.

On his deathbed, our patriarch Jacob called out to his sons and asked them to gather as one so he might relate to them that which would befall them at the end of days. But, we are told, the Ruach HaKodesh left him and he could go no further. Our Sages offer many explanations for

this. Recently, I heard an esteemed rav explain that the Hebrew word “Yikra,” which is translated as “will happen,” should have been spelled with a “Heh” but the word is written with the letter “Aleph” which means “call”…. teaching us that we will be deaf to the Call of G-d.

And that explains the silence of Jacob, for that is what will happen to us – we too, will be silent. Terror and bedlam continue and we refuse to understand. There is only one solution to our dilemma, and that is “Ein Od Milvado” – to understand that our help can only come from G-d, but we remain deaf to His Call and blind to His guiding Hand.

But, and this is the big but – we need not fear, for all negative prophecies can be changed. We need only heed G-d’s Call, and overnight we can change our destiny. One of the reasons why at the Minchah Yom Kippur service we read the story of the prophet Jonah, which relates that the city of Nineveh was doomed because of its many sins, but it heeded the call of the prophet and in a split- second changed darkness into light and destruction into life. We can and must do the same. We need only proclaim “Ein Od Milvado! – There is no one but Hashem to help us.” But what, exactly, does that mean?

It has all been written, and please G-d, in ensuing columns, I will begin spelling it out.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/rebbetzins-viewpointrebbetzin-jungreis/what-will-it-take-for-us-to-get-it/2008/12/17/

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