Photo Credit: Jewish Press

When I was growing up, my father would tell the story of the night the Nazis, yemach shemam, came banging at the door. Before my father was taken away, they came for his eldest brother, Yosef Dov, hy”d. They sent him to the frontlines as they seized our beautiful boys, to be fodder for their enemy’s fire on the battlefield.

That night, my grandmother, the Rebbetzin Chaya Sorah, hy”d, wailed as she sat on the couch with her tehillim. She stayed up the whole night, crying and davening. The words of David HaMelech filled their home together with her sobs. One night. Two nights. Three nights. Night after night my grandmother did not leave her place on the couch, her tehillim in her hands. Finally my father said “Mama, please! You cannot sit on the couch every night, crying, not eating, and not sleeping. Please, Mama, go to bed.”


“I should go to bed when my Yosef Dov is out there in the freezing cold? I don’t know where he is!” she cried. “I don’t know if he is hungry, I don’t know if he is shivering, frightened and scared. I don’t know if he is dead or alive and I should go to sleep in my bed?” Until my grandmother was taken away and sent to Auschwitz, she stayed on her couch each night. Her tears filled every page of her tehillim. She never slept in her bed again. My bubby was murdered in Aushwitz. Like Rachel Emeinu, she cried and cried “al baneha ki einenu.” “Meianah lehenachem – she refused to be comforted.”

At a recent shiur, I spoke of my bubby and her endless nights of tears. I asked that each of us take the time to feel the pain of the mothers, the fathers, the bubbies and zaydies who are waiting for their children to come home from this battle for the existence of our land, and of our people. Hear the cries of the children who are dreaming of the day that they could once again kiss their Abba, feel his arms lift them to the sky. Their fear is constant. It does not let them breathe.

When Am Yisrael was in Mitzrayim, there came a moment that led to the great light of geulah. “V’gam ani shamati es naakas bnei Yisrael – And I also heard the screams of Am Yisrael,” Hashem says. “V’gam” – I also. You must first hear each other’s cries and only then can I also hear your cries. You cannot live in your little bubble and say as long as all is good with me, it is good with the world. And if you have stress, you cannot say ‘I have my own difficulties, leave me alone.’ We must open up our hearts, our souls, to the pain of our brothers and sisters. We are one body, one mishpachah. Can the right hand say to the left hand, the pain is your problem?

We cannot be the same person we were on October 6th. Take a name of a chayal and make it yours. Place the names of the wounded soldiers, who have given their very limbs so that we may walk freely through the streets of Eretz Yisrael, in your sefer tehillim. Take a few moments before you go to sleep in your warm bed and daven for the hostages who have been snatched and stolen, and are sitting in the deepest terror of darkness. This is our family we are speaking about. Our brothers and sisters have seen the fires of gehenom. The land that was to be our haven and refuge is filled with our blood. The least we can do, what we must do, is feel.

At the conclusion of my shiur, a woman approached me.

“My son is fighting in Gaza. Like your bubby, I do not eat. I do not sleep. I am up the whole night wondering. Is he hungry? Is he cold? Is he frightened? Is he even alive?” The tears fell as she spoke. “But when I heard your words, how you daven each day, how you feel my pain, how you keep the name of our chayalim inside your tehillim, I felt for the first time that I am not going through this alone.”

As we hugged, I felt as if the hugs and love of all the bubbies and emas who came before us were with us in the room. Endless tears of Rachel Emeinu giving us the strength to endure.

Ki yesh tikvah. Veshavu banim legvualam –There is hope. And your children will come home.”

Am Yisrael Chai.

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Slovie Jungreis Wolff is a noted teacher, author, relationships and lecturer. She is the leader of Hineni Couples and the author of “Raising A Child With Soul.” She gives weekly classes and has lectured throughout the U.S., Canada, and South Africa. She can be reached at [email protected].