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Posts Tagged ‘LOVE’

Trading In Maryland for the Mediterranean

Monday, August 19th, 2013

When Sergeant Brandon Berry made aliyah (immigrated to Israel), he did not come looking for the easy life. If he wanted that, he would not have left his hometown of Potomac, Maryland to serve in the army of a foreign country half a world away from his family.

Sgt. Berry also was not looking for an easy job in the IDF – he wanted to serve wherever he was most needed. He wanted to take his talent and drive with him to contribute one hundred percent.

Sgt. Berry passed all the tests to serve in the prestigious Paratroopers Brigade. Instead the American immigrant took to the sea as a member of the Israel Navy’s Dvora-class patrol boat squadron.

It is not everyday that a young man from Potomac, Maryland travels for tens of thousands of miles to join the Israel Navy. “It was clear to me that I was destined to serve in the Navy,” he said. Sgt. Berry, stationed on a base overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, is able to indulge his love for wide-open spaces every day of his service.

Aside from his thick American accent, Sgt. Berry is indistinguishable from the other soldiers at his base – completely at home on a boat with a tan to match. He credits the Association for the Wellbeing of Israel’s Soldiers for helping him through the entire enlistment process.

“The work the association does is a blessing,” he says. AWIS helps soldiers in a number of ways, which included providing assistance to lone soldiers, running soldier homes and recreation centers, and providing support for bereaved families.

Sgt. Berry says that even though he grew up with a strong Jewish identity and attended a Jewish day school, he always felt like something was missing. Now, as a soldier for Israel, it seems he has truly come home.

Visit IDF Blog.

A Woman of Courage and Strength

Sunday, August 18th, 2013

When I was little, my parents didn’t have much money so family vacations were non-existent. But somehow, for years if I remember correctly, my uncle and aunt invited me to spend a week at their house. These are the memories of a child – perhaps it was only a few days. For all I know, it could have been only one night – but the memory I carry with me was that I spent days and days with my Uncle Woodie and my Aunt Pia.

Pia was an accomplished artist – she filled her house with color and brightness. She was a wonderful mother…housewife…teacher. She was always dressed so beautifully, so elegantly. I have so many memories of her as I was growing up.

Seven years ago, Pia was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and told she had months, maybe even just weeks, to live. She redefined courage as she fought back the disease time and time again.

When a doctor told her there was no hope… she decided not to listen. She went experimental treatments, was declared cancer free and continued to fight even after the disease re-appeared. She became a symbol for many as she launched campaigns to raise money and awareness for a disease that leaves devastation and shock in its wake.

Through it all, she continued to smile, continued to cherish her family. I saw her a bit over a year ago when she came to Israel to celebrate the bar mitzvah of her oldest grandson. There was such pride in her as she stood on Masada and watched her daughter’s family gather around.

We all knew the disease was still there and we knew she would continue to fight it for as long as she could. She never gave up; she never gave in.

She lost her battle with cancer on Friday (Shabbat in Israel).

There are many heroes in the world – perhaps the greatest are those who simply struggle to live their lives with dignity, respect, and love.

I always knew Pia was a woman of grace, beauty, talent and love. I have learned over the last few years, that she was also a woman of incredible courage and strength. May God bless her memory.

Visit A Soldier’s Mother.

This Ain’t Torah

Thursday, August 8th, 2013

Harassment and exploitation (not only in the area of sex) are expressions of abuse of power. This must be the common denominator to jealousy, lust, and ambition, which, according to the Mishna “remove man from the world.”

The most serious aspect of the Rabbi Motti Elon scandal is the fact that it emanated from a cult, defaming Judaism and the Torah itself, God forbid. I’ve been watching and hearing criticism of the path of the Torah – because of this news item about a sect that’s following its charismatic leader whose every word and action are subject to their adoration.

The phenomena of such unworthy leaders are typical of almost every such cult.

The despicable acts of indecency are not the problem here, they’re merely the symptoms. The problem is the cult, its mentality and dynamics.

We must make it clear that a cult not only does not represent the Torah and its followers – it is absolutely anti-Torah. It is wrong, detestable, despicable and an abomination.

Now we must admit a few unpleasant facts:

This kind of cult is typical of our generation, very in and new-age.

The fact that someone’s guru hasn’t yet made an appearance as a defendant on the nightly news does not mean the guru phenomenon is kosher.

The entire Jewish culture, starting with the Bible and going all the way to the latest commentators, repeats time and again the value of freedom. Our tradition demands of us to remain free, slaves only to the Eternal who is above all humans – and it absolutely forbids us to go back to being slaves of slaves.

The most despicable person is the slave whose master pierced his ear after he had said “I love my master” – choosing a love for flesh and blood over love of the Divine.

Not forced slavery, but rather willful slavery, the conscious choosing of subjugation, is the most repulsive level of the anti-Jewish existence.

That’s what every cult does, it may even be the most profound definition of what’s wrong with every cult.

We’ve seen these phenomena in the town of Migdal, in northern Israel, where Rabbi Motti Elon ruled over his cult of admirers.

There were times when I liked Rabbi Motti Elon very much, especially his classes. I still think he is one of the most gifted men of our generation. But I recall how surprised I was when I first saw the ads that were plastered in the streets of Jerusalem, inviting people to his “tish.”

Tish? This Zionist Yeke (German Jew) is having a tish?

Since that time, I’ve kept my distance.

I won’t claim to have presaged that these “tishes” would eventually turn into a cult, including the embarrassing and revolting charges of which Elon has just been convicted, but in my primitive kishkes (guts) I already felt that it’s all gone to his head, or turned his head – I won’t even attempt to psychoanalyze the man.

Naturally, I was told back then that I’m full of it, because a tish is connected to Chassidism, and Chassidism is Yidishkeit, and Yidishkeit can’t be bad.

But I happen to believe that Yidishkeit is Freedom, and freedom is very, very good, and anything that opposes freedom is not Judaism and not Torah, and is very, very bad.

I don’t have the energy to start a debate over Chassidism, but I must say that our generation has turned our glorious tradition into a complete fruit salad, served with pitiful, new-age whining, doused in pseudo-spiritual dressing, replete with hollow poses of Kabbala-like mysticism, self-worship, and heaping portions of slavery to charismatic charlatans.

After all, the self-deprecating before the leader is the other side of the coin of narcissism and self-centeredness, and both sides mean bondage, heresy and lowly paganism.

Instead of Tikun Olam through the kingdom of spirit and morality, the new age post-modernist is cynically employing “spiritual” slogans to usurp the world for his own needs, his dubious jealousy, lust, and ambition.

Rabbi Motti Elon does not concern me. But I am losing sleep over the innocent youths who choose slavery and blindness over an open gaze and freedom.

But what bothers me even more is the fact that thousands of television viewers today think that this anti-Judaism is our—and their—heritage.

Please speak up and tell them it’s not so.

My Week in Israel with Dr. Oz

Monday, August 5th, 2013

Everything over the past week was memorable and magical as Dr. Mehmet Oz, America’s foremost daytime TV host and the world’s most famous doctor, toured Israel. From dancing the horah outside the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron, to dancing Friday night at the Western Wall with Israeli soldiers and thousands of worshippers, to meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu for ninety minutes of substantive conversation about Israel, Turkey, and the United States, Dr. Oz and his family showed the Jewish state extravagant love and admiration.

Mehmet is a remarkable man and seeing him up close reinforced the high regard in which I have always held him, ever since we started working together for Oprah at her radio network. First there was his attention to his children, all four of whom accompanied him, along with his son-in-law. Mehmet would go nowhere without them and pulled them in to hear every last explanation about Israel’s ancient and modern history.

Then there is his dedication to his wife Lisa, a remarkable and brilliant woman in her own right, and vastly knowledgeable of the Bible. Lisa was correcting me constantly on Biblical quotations (I purposely got them wrong so she could feel superior). Mehmet is a man who honors his wife at every opportunity.

Of course, there were the legions of fans – Jews and Arabs in every part of Israel – that pleaded for a picture and he turned noone down.

But more than anything else there was his attachment to the Jewish people on display at every moment. Mehmet is a Muslim, perhaps the world’s most famous Muslim who is not a head of state. He is a righteous and proud Ambassador of his faith and feels an innate kinship and brotherhood with the Jewish people.

He praised Israel constantly, from lauding its treatment of its minority citizens at our joint lecture at Rambam hospital in Haifa, to noting Israel’s phenomenal medical breakthroughs at several news conferences, to highlighting his amazement at Israel’s capacity to turn deserts into thriving cities.

In Hebron, at the tomb of the patriarchs, we prayed together publicly for peace and understanding between the children of Abraham. At the tomb of Maimonides we noted the role reversal. Maimonides, a Jew, was the world’s most famous physician, and he served the Muslim ruler Saladin. Now, a Muslim doctor – the world’s most famous – was visiting his Jewish brothers in the Holy land 900 years later.

Joined with Natan Sharasnky at the Jerusalem Press Club for a public discussion, the three of us debated whether there was an obligation to hate evil. Mehmet maintained that hatred harmed he who harbored it, even for the best of reasons. On this Sharasnky and I disagreed. Natan spoke of the evil he encountered in the KGB. I spoke of Hamas’ genocidal covenant and Hezbollah’s commitment to annihilating Israel. Terrorists deserved our contempt. Only by truly hating evil are we prepared to fight it. In the end we compromised in agreeing that hating evil should not be obsessive and internal but rather externally directed at neutralizing those who slaughter God’s innocent children, whoever they may be.

As I walked Dr. Oz and his family through the old city of Jerusalem on Friday night, we passed through Zion gate, still riddled with bullet holes from the heavy fighting of 1967 that liberated the city. At Shabbat dinner at the home of Simon and Chana Falic, my friend Ron Dermer, Israel’s newly appointed Ambassador to the United States, explained to Mehmet that even after Israel conquered the Temple Mount in the Six Day War it left control of Judaism’s holiest site to the Muslim waqf and that such an action had no precedent in all human history. Ron said that there could no greater illustration of Israel’s desire to respect its Muslim citizens and seek peace.

At the Christian holy sites, like the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem and Church of the Annunciation in Nazareth, and Muslim Holy Sites like the Dome of the Rock and the vast Muslim crowds that filled mosques for Ramadan, Dr. Oz saw first hand how Israel is a country of thriving religious liberty.

But the highlight of the visit was the conversation with Prime Minister Netanyahu where Ambassador Dermer joined Mehmet and me as we heard the Israeli leader deeply engage Mehmet about Israel’s search for peace and the challenges it faces with the destabilization of Syria and Egypt on the one hand, and the changes in its relationship with Turkey, on the other.

Rav Ovadia: I Love Knitted-Yarmulke Jews – But Not their MKs

Sunday, July 21st, 2013

Shas party’s spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef said Saturday night he really loves knitted-kippa Jews,” but it’s just their political leaders who are “Amalek” – the eternal enemy of Jews.

The national religious community in Israel now can breathe easier and know that Rav Ovadia really loves them.

Sure, the distinguished  rabbi said last month that national religious Chief Rabbinate candidate Rabbi David Stav is “evil” and an “enemy to Judaism,” but, heck, that was just meant to cheer up Shas’ favorite clientele, the dwindling Sephardi community that still feels oppressed by the elite Ashkenazi community. Indeed they are, but they are equally oppressed by their own leaders. So what better way to keep the common people in line by telling them that the Rabbi really loves Jews, even those who wear a knitted kippa.

But what about Shas Rabbi Shalom Cohen, who said in a sermon a week ago that “as long as there are knit kippot, the [divine] throne is not whole?  That’s Amalek. When will the throne be whole? When there is no knit kippa.”

If a listener thought Rabbi Cohen, who is a member of Shas’ Council of Torah Sages, meant that knitted-kippa Jews are Amalek, he did not understand correctly God forbid he should say such a thing.

Rav Ovadia, who sat silently on the podium as Rabbi Cohen spoke, knows exactly what he really meant.

Sure, Rabbi Cohen said some things against” those rebellious national religious Jews with knitted kippot, but he was only referring to their political leaders, opined Rav Ovadia.

Love, love, love, he said. Love for everyone – with one small exception. It is the political leaders of the knitted-kippa crowd who are problematic.

They not only are problematic. They are the true Amalek, Israel’s eternal enemy dating back to the days of  the Exodus from Egypt.

And who is the real knitted-kippa modern Amalek  of the Jews? None other than Naftali Bennett, chairman of the Jewish Home party, which, unlike Shas, took the daring move in the last elections to  welcome secular Jews as Knesset Members and put the emphasis on nationalist instead of religious.

Rav Ovadia has his grounds for considering Bennett Amalek.

The Jewish Home party is against exempting Haredi youth from IDF service forever. That means that Shas yeshivas would have less youth learning , or at least registered as learning, in their institutions,

If there are less students, there is less money from donors, especially from the Israeli taxpayer whose hard-earned money has been going into black-hat yeshivas for years with the payback that the future Torah scholars and eternal voters for Shas are defending the nation by learning Torah, even if they are just listed as learning and actually working or stashing home.

Now that Rav Ovadia has explained  Rabbi Cohen and has mended ties with the national religious community, except for those enemies of Jews like Bennett, Israel is ready for Tu B’Av, which begins Sunday night.

The Talmud lists it along with Yom Kippur as the most joyous days of the year when, according to the Talmud, that the daughters of Jerusalem go out dressed in white and dance in the vineyards and said, “Young man, consider who you choose (to be your wife).” Tu B’Av is the same day of the 40th yearin the desert when the ban was lifted on female orphans marrying into another tribe.

It is the perfect day for a daughter of a Shas rabbi to become engaged to the son of a national religious politician.

And God willing, Rabbi Cohen and Rav Ovadia will perform the marriage ceremony.

JBlog Roundup: Love and Marriage and Hate and Divorce and Blintzes

Wednesday, May 16th, 2012

You want strange news? I’ll give you strange news:

According to a complaint filed in Federal Court, Nancy Genovese, a mother of three, was arrested for taking a picture of the decorative shell of a helicopter on display in full public view near the entrance of the Gabreski Airport in Suffolk County, New York.

While shooting the chopper from her car, she was approached by a Southampton Town Policeman, who demanded to know why she was taking photographs. The cop notified the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Office and the authorities at Gabreski Airport that Nancy was posing a terrorist threat.

Among those responding to the call were airport officials, Homeland Security, the FBI, the Southhampton Police Department, and the Westhampton Police Department. Genovese and her 18- and 20-year-old sons were questioned for six hours by the side of the road by everybody in range wearing a uniform. It’s not a very busy airport. it’s not like they had better things to do.

This went on for quite some time, and involved many different kinds of humiliation and threats, including a lot of needless jail time and being placed on suicide watch – and also some cash is missing, don’t ask. Read the whole thing, if you’re into this kind of entertainment (of course you are). But the lesson we take from this really bizarre story is:

Cops Scare Easy.

Seriously, it’s something I’ve learned a long time ago, and just goes with their territory. Cops Scare Easy, and so when you run up against one of them, think of him as Bambi, fragile, and frightened out of his mind. But it’s Bambi with a sidearm, so be even sweeter.

EAT, PRAY, LOVE, WED

Tania, a female Jewish Orthodox student at Yeshiva University with an international background. She says she attended a wide range of Orthodox institutions from the right to the left. In her blog, Thinking Jew Girl, she goes into School, Peace in the Middle East, Orthodoxy (whatever that means), women’s rights, shidduchim, engagements, weddings (that’s three different aspects of the same gigantic issue), food, politics and anything else (I think she may have left out only figure skating and philately).

Yesterday, a reader wrote her: “I’m worried I will never get married. Do you have any suggestions of how I can avoid this nagging feeling? Do you have the same problem?”

If I had a dollar for every time some friend told me she was afraid she’d never get married… My humble opinion is that getting a good shidduch is a lot like finding the right home: the range of the supply depends on the demand. Or, in other words, it’s all about expectations and standards.

I’m saying it even though I actually found my loved one of many, many years all by myself, without the help of a shadchan. Back then we were a little looser, if you know what I mean. And I’ve stuck by the same lovely person ever since (we’re in our fourth decade together, in case you’re curious).

Tanya writes back: “I totally understand and empathize with your feelings of frustration.”

She continues with a heart breaker:

“About a year ago, I went out with this guy who was ten years older than me… It was the best first date of my life. He had huge warm eyes, a friendly demeanor, a genius mind, he was tall and cute, and the conversation had this awesome flow, positive energy, and I was sitting there thinking ‘Oh my Gosh! This guy is SO cute!’”

But then… “A month later at midnight he dumped me.”

To find out how Tanya managed that one and what she’s doing every day to stay sane and not slip behind in her YU work, visit her blog and say hi from Tibbi.

GET THAT GET

First, here’s the NY Post report, condensed version:

Four guys in black ski masks, tied up and beat Robert Klein, 25, an Orthodox guy from Brooklyn, until he told a rabbi he was giving his wife a get.

When Children Fall Through The Cracks (Conclusion)

Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011

For several weeks now I have been running a series on the plight of parents whose children who have “fallen through the cracks” and the painful ramifications both suffer.

I hope to conclude the discussion with this column.

Last week I wrote of the concerns of parents who have children of marriageable age and fear they will not be able to make shidduchim for them because of that one troubled child. This week, as promised, I will focus on the apprehensions of parents who agonize about the potential negative effects of such a child on their siblings.

My own children grew up in a totally secular neighborhood. They were the only ones who were shomer Shabbos and went to yeshiva. My boys were the only ones who wore yarmulkes and my girls the only ones to wear tzniusdik (modest) clothing.

And yet they were friends with the children in the neighborhood, who even joined us at our Shabbos table. Instead of those children influencing our sons and daughters, our children knew they had to influence them. As a matter of fact, just recently I spoke at an Orthodox synagogue in which one of those boys is very active and an officer of the board. Baruch Hashem, he is totally shomer Shabbos, as are his children, who are all yeshiva students. And it all started because of his friendship with my son.

Nowadays, however, such a situation would be a rarity. Today’s observant parents would be fearful if their children were to befriend those who are not religious lest their secular peers influence them and lead them astray.

So how did I do it?

From a very tender age, I charged my boys and girls with a mission. They had to do whatever they could to be m’karev – to reach out to – their secular counterparts. My son was four years old when he befriended the four-year-old son of our neighbor. They played together regularly. One day, my son approached me and said, “Ima, could you teach ____’s housekeeper how to bentsh licht for Shabbos [kindle the Sabbath candles]? His mommy doesn’t want to do it.”

When I explained why that couldn’t work, my little boy did not give up. Next thing I knew, his friend put on a yarmulke and then he went on to join him in yeshiva. How did that happen? As mentioned above, I had fortified my children with a sense of mission that I didn’t allow them to forget. When guests joined us at our Shabbos table, my children knew they had to be on their best behavior lest these people form the wrong impression of those who are Torah observant.

Frankly, I have difficulty understanding how it is that in families where there is one son or daughter who “fell through the cracks,” parents do not charge their other children with reaching out and influencing the rebellious sibling.

Oh, I am well aware of the arguments people put forth – “It’s easier to follow the bad than the good”; “It’s easier to fall through the cracks than to stand up straight and walk on the path of Torah”; “It wouldn’t work, my son/daughter is too far gone – he/she just won’t listen”; “If they try, they will just end up in a nasty fight”; “Rebbetzin, you don’t begin to understand what goes on in our house – my son comes home at crazy hours and don’t know where he was or what he is up to, he drinks, he smokes….”; “You can’t imagine how he/she dresses. It’s an embarrassment!”

I know all that, yet I will tell you the power of love is the only thing that can reach them. Yes, the power of unconditional love and kindness goes a long, long way – and I speak from real experience rather than from some abstract theory. And this holds true for yeshivas as well. When rebellious children are ousted and cast into a jungle, they can only fall further. When their classmates shun them and make them feel like lowlifes, they can only deteriorate and become that which they have been told they are.

I always wonder why these same classmates cannot be spoken to and told of Hashem’s sorrow when a Yiddishe neshamah is lost – when one of His children, so to speak, dies? I always wonder why these classmates cannot be told it is in their hands to try to bring this lost neshamah back to Hashem. Instead of calling this child a “bum,” why can’t we call him a “teire kind” – a precious child – embrace him with a hug and tell him, “You belong to Mamlechet Kohanim – a Priestly Kingdom; your people need you and Hashem loves you, yearns for you, and never gives up on you. You can do it!”

I know some of you may think I am living in a dream world, oblivious to reality. A gadol, a great sage, once said, “I may be dreaming, but I’m not sleeping.” Growing up under the guidance of my saintly parents, I actually saw this dream become reality.

I remember many moons ago, following my family’s internment in Bergen Belsen, we were sent to a DP camp in Switzerland. One day, a group of Polish boys, ranging in age from 17-20, was brought to our camp from Auschwitz. They had seen their parents tortured and cast into the gas chambers and crematoria. They themselves had felt the sting of the whip and had experienced starvation and torture beyond description.

They were all very angry and bitter. They threw away their yarmulkes, didn’t want to know about Torah or mitzvos, and didn’t want to hear the word “Hashem.” They were quartered in a dormitory and every night, my father, the holy sage HaRav HaGaon Avraham Halevi Jungreis, zt”l, would visit them. He never admonished or chastised them. Instead, he went from bed to bed, covered them, kissed them, said the “Shema” with them, and whispered “Schluff gezunte heit mein teire kind” – “Sleep well my precious child.” And my mother volunteered for the kitchen and always managed to find something extra for them.

Many years later, I was speaking in a community in Florida when an elderly gentleman approached me. “Esther, you remember me?” he asked. Since he called me “Esther,” I surmised that our connection must go all the way back to my youth, but I didn’t have the foggiest notion of whom he could be.

“Remind me, ” I said.

“I am one of the Polish boys from Auschwitz who joined you at the DP camp in Switzerland. And these are my grandchildren.”

Before me stood seven sweet children. “They all go to yeshiva,” the man continued, “and it’s all due to your parents of blessed memory. I will never forget them!”

You might argue that this was different, that those young people went through the Holocaust. Every case is different, but there is one common denominator that applies in every generation – LOVE.

It is with this approach that I established Hineni and have reached out to our people. This teaching that my holy parents engraved upon my heart has guided me throughout my life. I have often thought how different our Jewish world would be if, instead of anger and disdain, we would learn to follow this path and envelop our children in love and kindness. If, instead of throwing out a child, we would call him aside after class, speak to him softly, embrace him, give him a berachah and tell him he has great potential, that he is a heilige Yiddishe neshamah, he would look at himself differently and not feel he is a bum.

There is yet another option for troubled children – enrollment in a “special school” where they meet other rebellious students. The down side to this is that, lacking positive role models, they very often feed off each other and fall even further.

Not long ago, a young man from a good family was brought to our office by his friend. He was involved with a gentile girl, and everything else that accompanies such a scenario. I invited him to come to my classes. Instead of admonishing him and berating him, I told him how much he was needed by our people, and how Hashem yearned for him to come home. I showed him the beauty of the Torah life he had so irresponsibly rejected.

Slowly but surely, he changed. I tried to convince him to return home. He told me he would never be accepted. I called his father, who was shocked by my call – and, I think, somewhat resentful and uncomfortable that I had become privy to this tragedy in his family. I understood where he was coming from and told him that in these turbulent, pre-messianic times, many of our families are splintered and suffer greatly. Slowly, I convinced him his son was on the mend.

To be sure, it has not all been smooth sailing, but he is on the path. Slowly the wounds are healing – another Jewish child has come home, and a family has become united.

I have dealt with many teenagers who have been cast out of their homes and schools, and once again I must emphasize that the most potent way to reach them is with berachos and love. I am not saying this is easy. It is a terrible nisayon for all concerned. I understand it is easy to be overcome by rage and lose it, but then we have to bear in mind the consequences and ask ourselves what will be accomplished if I yell and scream and call him derogatory names. On the other hand, if I hold my temper, respond calmly and show him I am sad rather than mad, I have a shot at reaching him. Not in vain did our sages teach us, “Who is wise? – He who foresees the future.”

Obviously, our sages were not referring to prophecy, but to foreseeing the consequences of our actions.

I believe there is yet one more issue that needs to be addressed. Some of our children who have “fallen through the cracks” have done so simply because they are not “learners.” They cannot keep up with the demands of the schools, so to call attention to themselves they become “clowns” and are eventually ousted.

My beloved husband, HaRav Meshulem Halevi Jungreis, zt”l, received semicha while still in Hungary and he often told me that in his yeshiva, there was one big beis hamedrash where everyone learned and the weaker students were helped by the stronger ones. One day, a well-known rabbi from Israel came to our community to raise money for his institution. My husband recalled that in his youth this rabbi had studied in his yeshiva and had difficulty grasping the Gemara, but there was always some other student who would assume the responsibility of reviewing the teaching and working with him. As a result, today he is a big talmid chacham – a highly respected scholar and rabbi with a vast knowledge of Torah.

Just recently, I was on my way to speak in Palm Beach, Florida. On the same flight was a distinguished looking man with a white beard, black hat and coat. I noticed there was some foreign object stuck to his coat. I debated in my mind whether I should approach him to make him aware of it or just remain silent. Knowing that a talmid chacham must be careful about his appearance, I decided to go over to him. I said in Yiddish, “Forgive me…” and pointed to the object.

He quickly removed it and thanked me profusely.

“Aren’t you Rebbetzin Jungreis?” he asked.

“Yes,” I replied.

“Are you an ainekle of the great Czengerer Tzaddik?”

“Yes,” I said. (My great-great grandfather, the Czengerer Rebbe, was renowned throughout Hungary for the miraculous cures he was able to bring to our people.)

He went on to tell me that one of his very good friends had been afflicted with terminal cancer. The doctors did not give him long to live. Someone told him to go to Czenger and pray at the gravesite of the tzaddik. “Today, ten years later,” he continued, “he is well and enjoying his beautiful mishpacha.”

He paused before continuing. “I will tell you another story, and this one is about me. I give you permission to repeat it because I think it will help many families, but please do not use my name. As a young boy studying in cheder in Hungary, I had much difficulty. I simply couldn’t get it. No matter how hard I tried, the teachings could not penetrate my head.

“My father, of blessed memory, just didn’t know what to do with me. He was full of anguish over it, and my rebbe was very frustrated with me but he always encouraged me and told me to keep trying. He told me to daven that Hashem should help. But still I couldn’t get it. The other boys were advancing and I was nowhere. Then, one day, when no one was around, I went to the Aron HaKodesh and I cried bitterly. I begged Hashem to please help me and pleaded with Him to open my mind and my eyes so that I might understand His holy words – and miraculously, it worked!

“But I couldn’t have done it,” he added, “if not for the support and encouragement of my rebbe.”

I have often thought how different things would be today if we would learn to adopt some of the ways that came so naturally to our zeides and rebbes of yesterday.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/rebbetzins-viewpointrebbetzin-jungreis/when-children-fall-through-the-cracks-conclusion-2/2011/02/23/

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