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December 21, 2014 / 29 Kislev, 5775
 
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Posts Tagged ‘Yamim Tovim’

Boundless Miracles Available For The Taking

Thursday, May 10th, 2012

Dear Dr. Respler:
The holidays are a great time to learn about ourselves – the good, the bad and the ugly – and then try to make lemonade from the lemons, turn the positive into building blocks, and generally create good things from the lessons learned. The Yamim Tovim are saturated with kedushah, leading to beautifully crafted creations from what one learned and experienced during these holy, spiritual days. While some believe that it is only through an actual, seen object that building blocks can be formed, a Torah-based experience can lead to the same result. This Pesach I came to believe that the seemingly impossible is possible and that miracles can happen.

No, I didn’t see Eliyahu HaNavi. No, a large sum of money was not mysteriously placed into my family’s bank account. This is not how I saw yad Hashem. This Yom Tov made me believe that I had, and continue to have, the koach to enrich people’s lives.

I like to think I was born with a good heart, always willing to care for and stand by those who were easy prey. But issues got in the way, making me cynical and angry – putting the aforementioned characteristic on hold. But, Baruch Hashem, a good marriage to a wonderful guy has reconnected me with this good trait, and over Pesach I clearly saw people’s contentment as a result of my heartfelt goodness toward them. To me, that was a miracle.

Prior to our Erev Pesach trek to family for the sedarim, on the way to the garage, my husband and I met up with a woman in our building. A few weeks before, she started to confide in me about difficulties in her life. She is Jewish but not frum, and I realized that she was disconnected from HaKadosh Baruch Hu in a great way. She said that family members were taking advantage of her in a business-related matter and she couldn’t understand why Hashem would allow this to happen. I told her that although it seemed as if these people had the upper hand and that there was no way justice could be meted out, Hashem had wondrous ways of righting things. I then introduced her to a book about emunah that was written for frum and non-frum people alike. So before we left to celebrate Pesach, the holiday that strengthens emunah, she came to me with book in hand, telling me how it was helping her deal with everything going on in her life. She called me her little messenger from God.

Thus Pesach started off on the right foot. Hashem was allowing me to see that I, who had grown cynical about the beauty of helping others, was again able to reach out and touch someone. What a beautiful present.

And on Pesach itself, I was able to continue easing people’s pain. My husband and I visited friends who were struggling spiritually. They were questioning basic tenets of Jewish faith. We were able to say a few things to them that hopefully served as food for thought, leading them in the right direction.

We also came into contact with an elderly frum woman who had complications in dealings with close family and friends. She was tired from preparing for Pesach and bemoaned the fact that they did not truly appreciate her hard work. We made her laugh and helped her to just enjoy the beautiful weather, good food and zemiros that, Baruch Hashem, this holiday was filled with. Watching her unwind and become able to see positive results from her pre-Pesach exertions was miraculous indeed. Prior to Pesach I heard a beautiful, positive thought from a rabbi, on a radio program. He said that Pesach is a time of nissim geluyim (open miracles). Purim was all about hidden miracles, as yad Hashem was revealed through what appeared to be coincidences. Pesach, though, is a holiday of holy days since Hashem saved us with open miracles – the Ten Plagues, the Splitting of the Sea, etc. Therefore, this rabbi continued, we need to recognize that this holiday (and, as I later learned, the entire month of Nissan) is a time when the very thing that one believes to be impossible can often come true – through prayer. There is a spiritual energy during these holy days and we would be remiss not to avail ourselves of this spiritual uplifting. Here’s how I think of it: Hashem built into these auspicious days proverbial treasure chests full of pearls, diamonds, emeralds, gold and silver that are ours for the taking. It would be silly not to partake in this opportunity.

I did not know of this phenomenon until this year; perhaps there are others who also did not know of this. But I want them to know that I made sure to pray for everyone, and I am sure that what klal Yisrael may have believed was beyond possible may indeed happen.

Title: The Spirit of the Seasons: Insights into the Yomim Tovim

Wednesday, November 24th, 2010

Title: The Spirit of the Seasons: Insights into the Yomim Tovim

Author: Rabbi Jonathan Shooter

Publisher: Feldheim

 

 

   Jews around the world are reflecting on the Jewish New Year season that recently passed. It seems that everybody is struggling with their resolutions to be better and to do better. All of us are worrying about the daunting lead-up to life’s next chapter: Thanksgiving season. Xmas parties. Awkward situations, she’elot that make you blush to ask them. Bills. More bills. Tempers. Fourth quarter reports. Bosses cut losses by firing staff. Fear. Panic. You wonder what was gained by going through the Yamim Noraim. I have good news for you: The Spirit of the Seasons by Rabbi Jonathan Shooter can show you insights into the Yamim Tovim to soothe your soul and psyche.

 

   The 287-page hardcover graciously takes you through the Jewish year with thoughtful reflections and information. Shooter lets us listen in on the Chafetz Chaim’s resonating remark about self-sacrifice in the Kislev chapter. Ponder the tragedy of Asarah B’Tevet when you read what Reb Nachum Chernobler said about tikkun chatzot and its deeper meaning (page 138). Add all that to the rest of this fascinating read to become a more informed Jew who keeps up with the class that HaKadosh Baruch Hu began 5771 years ago.

 

   The Spirit of the Seasons: Insights into the Yomim Tovim belongs in your hands and on your reading table.

 

   Yocheved Golani is the author of the highly acclaimed E-book, “It’s MY Crisis! And I’ll Cry If I Need To: EMPOWER Yourself to Cope with a Medical Challenge”  (www.booklocker.com/books/4244.html).

A Call For Help From Jerusalem

Wednesday, October 14th, 2009

Special Note: The author of the following letter is well- known to me. He is a trustworthy young man who had an impressive secular education in the States and gave it all up when he became a ba’al teshuvah and decided to pursue a life of Torah learning in Jerusalem. His wife, who comes from a fine American family that made aliyah many years ago, is equally committed. I know them and can vouch for them. I also know for a fact that this young man is a serious, sincere “learner” whose parents experienced tremendous financial reversals and are not in a position to help in any way, shape or form.

The yeshiva at which he is studying, as most mosdos, yeshivos and tzedakos nowadays, is struggling just to keep afloat. So when I received his plea for help, I decided to publish his letter on the chance that one of our readers might be able to come to his assistance. Stranger things than this have happened in the past.

Over the years people have written to me with the most unusual requests. After publishing their letters, volunteers came forth and signaled their willingness to help. Our people are truly amazing. Just consider – the very fact that this young man feels confident in making such a request is surely testimony to the unbelievable chesedthat prevails within our people.

Over the millennia, we traversed the globe, we encountered many civilizations, many societies, many cultures…. we knew persecution, oppression and torture as well as assimilation and alienation. But the chesed with which our Father Abraham endowed us is so deeply ingrained in our souls that even the most trying experiences cannot destroy it. May Hashem grant that, in this merit of chesed, we be zocheh to behold the redemption of our people speedily in our own day.

Dear Rebbetzin Jungreis:

This is _________ from Jerusalem. I hope that you and the entire Hineni Kehillah had powerful and productive Yamin Noraim. When I spoke to you last in August, I mentioned that, with no support from my parents, my wife and I were having trouble getting by. We are happy to be moser nefesh for Torah, but with the outrageous rental prices for even a 25-meter studio apartment (over 800 dollars a month when my wife’s salary is barely $18,000 a year), we can’t make it.

Additionally, there are virtually no stipends in yeshivas (support for young married men who learn full-time). We couldn’t cover our bills if it weren’t for the help that my over-extended parents-in-law provide on a constant basis. Again, we have very low material standards, but we have trouble meeting even those.

When I spoke to you, I didn’t dare ask for financial help because I know the economic situation, and I am sure that Hineni, like other tzedakos and kiruv organizations must be feeling the pinch. However, I realize that there is something I can ask for your help with, and it is the following:

Baruch Hashem, Sukkos is a magical time in Eretz Yisrael, and especially in Ir HaKodesh – the Holy City of Yerushalayim. What is particularly nice to see is so many people from out of the country, making a modern-day aliyah l’regel – pilgrimage for the chag. It occurred to my wife and me that many of these people have apartments in Jerusalem, and these apartments sit empty with the exception of Yamim Tovim or a few weeks in the summer. What a lifesaver they could be for couples such as we who are struggling just to survive.

There are entire neighborhoods that remain empty for the majority of the year. The families that own these apartments return to their homes Chutz La’Aretz, while many young kollel couples, who have made Yerushalayim their permanent home, are desperately searching for a place to live.

Please do not think I am asking for an outright gift. Of course we would want to pay something, but as things stand now, even with the greatest sacrifice, we cannot meet the inflated rental prices that landlords are demanding in Jerusalem. So, though it may be brazen to make such a request, I was hoping I could ask you to look out for me to see if there is anyone you might know or come into contact with that might be willing to rent their apartment to us for a low price. It goes without saying that we would accept the responsibility of leaving the apartment in perfect condition.

Of course we would be happy to vacate for all Yamim Tovim or any other time of the year. I am certain that you can understand that a fifteen-meter machsan is fine for a week or a month, but for a whole year it is a little bit difficult to function with no kitchen facilities and barely a bathroom.

We would be happy to pay a subsidized rent. Additionally, since my father-in-law is a very competent contractor, he would vouch to fix any potential damages that they might worry about or make improvements in the apartment.

Overall I am, Baruch Hashem, unfazed by our problem. I have emunah and I know that Hashem will help us. The outer trappings of gashmius don’t bother me. I want nothing more than to focus on my learning. We are not naive and are ready for sacrifice. My wife is ready for the commitment that such a kollel life entails, but the basics we need -to live in an apartment with a working stove and not just a one-room machsan.

Up until now, we have been relying heavily on my parents-in-law, and while they are really amazing and very giving we basically cook every meal in their house, use their house for phone calls, laundry and everything else. It is not good for my wife to have essentially never left home – although relations between my parents-in-law and us remain excellent, in a certain way, we don’t feel the independence of marriage and it obviously bothers my wife.

Please forgive me for burdening you with my personal needs, but it occurred to me that perhaps, just perhaps, someone might respond to this plea. I would like to add that we are not seeking this help on a long- term basis. We would just like to have the opportunity to save up some money so that my wife and I can obtain a residence in a Jerusalem suburb where apartments are much less expensive and mortgages are more affordable.

I would like to express my appreciation to you for considering my letter and bringing my request to the attention of your many readers. May I ask you to please omit my name?

Chag Sameach & Gut Yom Tov

My Dear Friend:

As you can see, of all the letters and e-mail that came across my desk this week, I gave your letter priority and am pleased to publish it. I hope that, B’Ezrat Hashem…. as a result, something good will occur. Please be assured that if I have any positive responses, I will be in touch.

With every best wish and brachos

What Did You Take Away From Shavuos?

Wednesday, June 10th, 2009

The beautiful Yom Tov of Shavuos has passed, but our Yamim Tovim never fade. We are charged to carry them with us throughout the year. While this holds true for all our Yamim Tovim, it is especially valid for Shavuos. This is the one day for which our Torah does not designate a specific time or date. Shavuos is “Z’man Matan Toraseinu,” the season of receiving our Torah, and that is an eternal happening, which every one of us must re-experience and relive every moment of our lives. “Not with our forefathers alone did Hashem seal the Covenant, but with us, we who are here, all of us alive today (Deuteronomy 5).

But if that be so, if all our souls were at Mount Sinai, if all of us heard the Voice of G-d, why don’t we all feel the sanctity of that moment in the same manner? Why are we not all deeply inspired? And more, since our sages teach that every time we genuinely undertake a mitzvah and plumb the depth of G-d’s holy words, we can relive Sinai, why is that we fail to feel the fervor, the zeal, and the love?

To understand, let us carefully study the passage in the Torah that describes Ma’amad Har Sinai, Revelation: “The appearance of the Glory of Hashem was like a consuming fire on the mountaintop before the eyes of all the children of Israel” (Exodus 24).

At first glance, it is difficult for us to understand how G-d could appear to the people like “a consuming fire,” especially since we know that G-d has no image, shape or form. So what does the Torah wish to impart to us through this description?

Fire interacts with various materials in different ways. Some materials, such as oil, straw, paper, etc., are highly combustible, while others resist the flames altogether. This teaches that, while we all stood at Mt. Sinai and we all heard the Voice of G-d, not everyone reacts in the same manner. It all depends on us.

Whether our souls will be like oil and rise to a glorious flame when it comes into contact with the fire of Torah, or be like iron and resist it, or like water and extinguish the flame altogether, is our choice. How we respond to Torah is the most critical decision that we can make – it is life determining and will define our days on this planet. So let us ask ourselves, “How combustible are our souls? How do they react to the fiery words of G-d?”

King Solomon, the wisest of all men, taught that a man can be recognized by that which makes him enthusiastic, passionate, and by that which makes him run. So again, let us ask ourselves, “What makes us run? What makes us excited Torah or money? Torah or a gourmet meal? Torah or sports? The answer to these questions will help us to gauge our “neshamah quotients.”

We are living in pre-messianic times. We need only open our eyes and see the constant danger enveloping us internally and globally. We are the generation that is experiencing assimilation, family breakdown, dread disease and horrific natural disasters. Globally, we are witness to the escalation of anti-Semitism and the constant threat of another Holocaust.

What can we do? How can we protect ourselves from the impending calamity?

Our sages offer a three-fold formula, the first, La’asok B’Torah, to make Torah your occupation, your very life. It depends upon how combustible our neshamos are, for that is the first key to triumphing over chevlei Mashiach, the painful labor pangs of the pre-messianic period. But is it realistic to believe that each and every one of us can elevate his neshamah to such a level?

Yes, and again we turn to our Torah for guidance. “In the heart of every man who has wisdom, G-d promises, “I will grant wisdom.” This is rather paradoxical, for if wisdom is a prerequisite for wisdom, what is the poor man who lacks it to do?

The wisdom that G-d refers to, however, is not based on I.Q. or absorption of information, but it is to be found in a yearning…. an insatiable desire to know the Word of G-d. In converting our souls into combustible material, capable of catching the fiery words of Hashem’s Torah, if we yearn for that gift, to appreciate G-d’s Torah, if we desire its illumination, if we beseech Him to teach us His holy words, then yes, our hearts will be overtaken by that flame and we will become living examples of G-d’s Word on Earth.

This week I received e-mail from a young woman who spent Shavuos in Jerusalem and was touched by a small spark of that fire from Sinai.

A Letter from Israel

Shavuos here was totally out of this world. I think it really may be my favorite holiday. There is no way to put into words the experience; you have to feel it yourself. That said, let me share a few highlights with you:

Walking to the Old City at around 1:30 a.m., the streets were packed with people, and there was this happy glow in the air. The thousands and thousands of people come later, around 4 a.m. or so, to be at the Kotel at sunrise. But I wanted to go early for the all-night classes and amazing energy of the Old City. There were so many good classes going on all night, with so many of the best teachers, so there was an energy of people popping from one class to the other.

Finally, at about 3:30, I decided, instead of going to another class, to take some quiet time for myself to sit, and reflect on what the Chag means to me, and what receiving the Torah means for me, and to talk to G-d about it. Then, at around 4:20, I went down to the Kotel, and miraculously got very close to the Wall. It was an unexpected gift, because the entire plaza was packed with thousands of people.

Davening there at sunrise was beyond words. And, just as the sun peeked through and the first moments of light shined on us, the entire area became totally silent, everyone in their own personal meditation, and for a few moments, you could almost hear a pin drop.

At exactly that moment, hundreds of doves flew above our heads. I have no idea where they came from. It was a real high, beyond description. All I can say is that, I can’t really explain it, but what emerged from really being in the experience of Shavuos and receiving the Torah was an inner transformation. Not some big dramatic thing, not something that would probably be apparent to anyone, but within me, I can feel it.

I know that is what all the holidays are supposed to do, but I don’t always experience it in a conscious way. This Shavuos, I understood what that means.

Oh, and one last note. This is one of those little fuzzy feelings that make me love the Jewish people. There were tables set up all over, just outside the Old City, with drinks, water, juice, sodas, cups, rugalach and cookies. Private individuals just figured that people might be thirsty from the long walk, and took it upon themselves to provide drinks and snacks for us at no cost. This was just another expression of this sense here that we are all family and naturally want to care for another.

I heard a beautiful teaching from a Rabbi Dov Ber Pinson, that each moment in our lives is an opportunity to receive the Torah, to accept G-d’s presence in our lives – or the opposite. Only a G-d that loves us with an infinite love would give us a choice like this. No matter how far away we feel, every single moment is another chance to return to who we really are.

Daughters and Daughters-In-Law Also Need Help (Part One)

Wednesday, November 5th, 2008

Special Note: Those of you who have been following my columns know that for a number of weeks, I have been focusing on current world events, which are indeed overwhelming and frightening. Just the other day, I had a discussion with a prominent businessman who is also knowledgeable and connected to the world of politics. He made a simple, but telling statement, “Rebbetzin, if a year ago, someone would have told me that the powerful financial institutions of Wall Street - Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers, etc., would disappear and the current political situation would look as bleak as it does today, I would have said,  That’s preposterous and impossible.

But today, the impossible has become our reality. Events are transpiring so swiftly, that we have difficulty absorbing them. Our generation is sleeping, and we have failed to react to that which is befalling us. So I felt compelled to devote my columns of the past month to those events. Nevertheless, despite the critical world situation, personal problems – family, shalom bayis, children, illness, continue to assail us. I receive hundreds of e-mail requests for help weekly from every part of the globe, and while, in the past, I published many of these letters, for the past few weeks I have been responding to them personally. Some of these e-mails, however, do not lend themselves to personal responses, but require the public forum of my column since many people are reluctant to identify themselves and write anonymously, or the letter writer hopes to convey a message that will be read by people involved in his or her problem. So I now return to addressing family conflicts through my column.  

 

Dear Rebbetzin Jungreis,

I truly enjoy reading your column in The Jewish Press and have heard you speak in person. I am always inspired by your words. I am writing to you about an issue that you have addressed more than once. I realize that this would have been more appropriate to address before the Yamim Tovim, but I hope you will still take the time to address this matter.

In the past, you have printed letters from bubbies whose married children come for Yom Tov and act like they are in a hotel. According to the letter-writers, they work very hard all of Yom Tov and are constantly cleaning up after their grandchildren whose parents do not help at all in the kitchen or with other household chores. I agree with you that married children should help out. You have not, however, addressed the needs of the married children who visit their parents or in-laws for Yom Tov who work hard the rest of the time and would like to take it easy and relax.

My parents live out-of-town, while my in-laws live within driving distance from my husband and me and our son who is less than a year old. My husband works full-time and I stay home with our son who has special needs that require therapy and visits to specialists. Additionally, I must deal with bureaucracies in order for my son to get what he needs, which can leave me frustrated and worn out. I have no outside help and, therefore, do much of the housework myself (my husband does help when he can) on top of taking care of my son. We often have guests for Shabbos and some Yamim Tovim and I do the cooking myself. I do not mind doing all this; I am just trying to give you an idea of how hard I usually work.

Because of the timing of the Yamim Tovim this year, we were not able to go to my parents at all. We did not go to my in-laws either, because we feel they demand that I help more that what is reasonable and expect me to make that the priority even more than taking care of my son. My mother-in-law is not like the bubbies that write to you saying that they never get out of the kitchen. She and my father-in-law are professionals who have had live-in housekeepers who do most of the household chores during the week from the time my husband was an infant (he is the oldest of several).

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/rebbetzins-viewpointrebbetzin-jungreis/daughters-and-daughters-in-law-also-need-help-part-one/2008/11/05/

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