Thursday, November 10, 2011


Art: Dalhart Windberg

Words by Rebetzin Esther Jungreis

Yes, I`m afraid. When I say these words, most people do not understand, and they attribute my fears to the fact that I am a survivor and live in the shadow of my Holocaust experiences. Still others attribute my fears to "overreaction", and assure themselves that everything is okay, that there is nothing to worry about. "Fear", they rationalize, is a Jewish neurosis, identified with past generations, when our people lived in the darkness of the ghetto.

But today, things are different. Today, we live in the United States, a free, democratic country, in which all people have the right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness..” And more, for the very first time in almost two thousand years, we have our own State and because of that, there is nothing to fear. I wish that I could be as confident as they, but I smell the noxious fumes of pre-Holocaust Europe, and so I write and speak wherever I can. It is not Hamas or the Moslem Brotherhood, nor for that matter, Ahmadinejad that I fear. Nor do I fear the United Nations, an institution notorious for its despicable hypocrisy and anti-Israel bias. I do not fear the sophisticated, intellectuals who camouflage their hatred of Jews behind politically correct pseudonyms that mis-lead all too willing ears, but what I do fear is our own people – yes, our own people who have forgotten who we are, who no longer remember that we stood at Sinai, that we heard the voice of G-d, that we belong to a priestly kingdom, a holy nation and that everything that befalls us is choreographed by Hashem, and is a reflection of our own deeds, our own hands.

To be sure, there is nothing new about all this. It is a “Truth” that is a very pillar of our faith and is inscribed for all eternity in G-d’s Book – the Torah. The warning screams out to us from almost every portion, yet we refuse to heed it. How can it be that we, the nation that is so brilliant, is so blind? How can it be that after thousands of years, we still fail to understand?

Our history is constant replay – again and again, tragedies befall us, yet we refuse to comprehend. It could all be so simple if we would all be willing to understand. But no matter how unbearable our pain, how agonizing our suffering, we continue to reject it. Every day, a Bas Kol – a Heavenly Voice calls us, but we choose to remain deaf. We have shed our Priestly garments and no longer recognize ourselves.

Time and again G-d sends His prophets to remind us that our destiny is different from that of all other nations, that our very existence is directly linked to our adherence to G-d’s commandments. Hashem has guaranteed our eternity, for we, the Jewish people have been chosen to be His witnesses, but tragically, we fail to see the glory of our calling, and that is the painful reality of our long, tormented exile. We have seen mighty nations come and go, rise, only to fall, but even as we have endured and triumphed,....but it’s all to no avail. We continue to remain obdurate.

Even as a young child in Bergen Belsen, I was aware of this Truth. My saintly father, HaRav Avraham Halevi Jungreis, Z’tl, embedded it in my heart and soul. But I could never have imagined that, before I would see the dawn, six million of our people would be consumed in the flames. Despite it all however, by the grace of G-d, not only are we here, but we have reinvented ourselves. We have given new life to the great academies of Torah that once shone so brightly throughout the shtetlach of Europe, and we have returned and rebuilt our ancient land. We have brought new life to the barren wasteland. We have planted gardens and forests, and despite the constant barrages of missiles and rockets, we redeemed our land. Yes, miraculously, we did it all and yet we still failed to see G-d’s guiding Hand.

As I said, I smell the noxious fumes of pre-Hitler Europe. Once again, the nations are bent on swallowing us, and, as always, there is no one to come to our aid, no one to even raise a voice on our behalf. Once again, we are reminded of the eternal words of our Torah: “They are a people that dwells alone and not reckoned among the nations.”....”We are like one lamb surrounded by seventy wolves” – all to remind us that our salvation can come from only One source – AVINU SH’BASHAMAYIM – our Heavenly Father.

Time and again, G-d has impressed this Truth upon us. Not only did He engrave these words in our holy writ; not only did He send His prophets to remind us, but He constantly speaks to us loud and clear. And yet, we continue to fail to heed His messages, and it is that which I fear. Our generation has seen darkness and light. We have seen the most painful, the most tragic, and also the most spectacular, the most miraculous. I am not only referring to the Holocaust, but to the ongoing, savage, brutal and blood soaked hands of our neighbors who are united by only one purpose – to slaughter and exterminate our people. They surround our tiny State and encamp on all our borders, but miraculously, we have survived in this sea of murderers. Just the same however, we still fail to see the Hand of G-d – We refuse to hear His voice calling us.

I invite you to consider only the recent attack on Ashdod.....On Shabbos afternoon as our people gathered to daven mincha, Ashdod was hit by rockets. Such an onslaught could have resulted in catastrophe, but while there were some injuries, Ashdod held fast. Although a synagogue and a school suffered a direct hit, miraculously, the building was empty. This synagogue usually has a large minyan in one of the classrooms, but on that Shabbos, services did not take place. The Gabbi was not feeling well and could not make the necessary preparations. Just think about it..

All those who came to see the sight were awestruck. It was an open miracle. Had the Gabbai not been ill, had services taken place, the tragedy would have been to painful to contemplate...and there was more. The entire place was covered with shattered glass and debris.... Everything in the room was damaged, but the Holy Ark and the Torah within remained untouched! And there was still more!

Just two hours later, another rocket hit a parking lot setting cars afire, but the adjacent building escaped damage. Miraculously, the rocket exploded near a large gas tank. Had there been a direct hit, the result could have been catastrophic.

Coincidence or the Hand of G-d? Yet we fail to see it – we fail to understand.

Darkness and light in the very same breath, and once again, I ask, Coincidence or the Hand of G-d?

It is the blindness of our people that I fear!

When will we wake up? When will we don our Priestly garments and fulfill our G-d given destiny and be “a light unto all mankind?”

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You, my sister, are a light unto me. You have spoken correctly. I have spoken these words as I have just read them, although you have said them with much more grace and love.

The only thing that you forgot to mention is that Israel, the Jews, are not all of Israel. If we are to become a light to the world, then all of the world must be accepted into Israel.

This does not mean that we must embrace their customs, or ours, but that we can all follow the Laws of the Universe, the Laws of G'd, and International Human Rights Laws as one species under G'd. This is in our nature. Pride and greed still keeps us from the Garden of Eden, the Paradise, the Bliss, the Peace; our Other nature.

There is a way. There is an easy solution to all our problems. This has already been rejected by every nation on Earth, including Israel, and those that should be bringing Moshiach to the world.

Hopefully, this 'waking up' comes before it is too late. However, the clock is ticking and many suffer needlessly.

Israel, and those to whom I have spoken, will be fully accountable for their shirking of their responsibility to all, for this is the purpose of Israel, as you say.

You have learned your lesson well. Many others like unto yourself, did not, have not, will not. It is these whom stand in the way of Moshiach.

Unfortunately, they have forgotten. You have not.

You are considered one of the righteous.

At this point, others will want me to say, fear not. But, is not this fear that causes you to speak up? Yes, it is.

Keep your fear. Keep your spark. Keep your light. Wisdom guides your heart.