Thursday, December 1, 2011

Wake Up Calls......

.....What Must We Do?

by Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis

For the past few weeks I`ve been discussing the crises facing our people. I`ve been asked by many of our readers a question which should challenge all of us: "What are we to do?"

Before I offer specific answers however, I would like all our readers to fully understand the urgency of the moment so those who are ambivalent will also comprehend, respond, and thus secure blessing for all our people.

The crises that we are encountering today can be seen on a national and personal level - There is a man, a nation on the world scene, that openly declares its intention to orchestrate another Holocaust - Hashem Yeracheim - may G-d have mercy.. Ahmadinejad and his cohorts have amply demonstrated that they have the wherewithal to carry out this satanic plan. And should you argue that "he is just a mad man", and the people who are with him are equally mad, I agree, but mad men, mad people, must be taken seriously, for they are mad enough to implement their evil. I know - I experienced it first hand in Hitler's concentration camps.

As Jews, we must be keenly aware that there are no random happenings in our lives. Everything, but everything that befalls us are wake-up calls from Hashem. This is a difficult concept for our generation to accept. Our culture tends to look askance at those who propound such views as simplistic, if not unbalanced. Moreover, our society tends to neutralize all personal culpability and removes all sense of responsibility from our consciences. We are never at fault - there are always some mitigating circumstances for that which befalls us, be they societal, familial, and environmental or sheer bad luck, but one thing is certain, it`s never, but never our fault! We convince ourselves that "things happen simply because they happen". Sadly, this rationale has seeped into our Torah community as well. We too have been impacted, and too many of us have turned a deaf ear to the call of Hashem. Too many of us refuse to see and understand.

It is amazing how, despite all our advances, all our discoveries, despite all our discoveries, despite the passage of centuries, education and enlightenment, we have learned nothing. From the genesis of time to this very day, nothing has changed. Even as in days of yore, in the generation of Noah, when man refused to heed G-d`s call, so today, we turn a deaf ear to the countless messages that He sends us.

In vain does Hashem send us His wake-up calls...we do not respond, we are spiritually comatose. We convince ourselves that "things happen simply because they happen".... and even those among us who do listen too often fail to translate their awareness into action. Not in vain does the Torah teach us, "V`yadata Hayom" - and you shall know today, and you shall absorb it in your heart".

There is a small gap, only seven inches, between the head and the heart, but to close that gap is a herculean task. To have heart and mind act in consonance remains a formidable challenge for every generation. Allow me to illustrate: Very often, we intellectually understand that we should not lose our tempers; we should not smoke, etc.. But since our hearts fail to absorb this, we continue to indulge our anger and we continue to smoke. So it is that the Torah admonishes us to absorb in our hearts that which our minds understand.

The Urgency of the Moment - Sound The Alarm

Maimonides taught that, when suffering is visited upon us, we are commanded to cry out and awaken our people with the sound of the shofar. Everyone must be alerted to examine his or her life and commit to greater adherence to Torah and mitzvos. Maimonides warned that, if we regard the tragedies that befall us simply as "the way of the world" - natural happenings" we will be guilty of achzarius - "cruelty."

At first glance, it is difficult to understand why Maimonides would choose the term "cruelty" to describe those who view trials and tribulations as "natural happenings". Such people may be unthinking, apathetic, foolish, blind or obtuse, but why accuse them of cruelty?

The answer is simple. If we regard our pain and suffering as "mere coincidence," we will feel no motivation to examine our lives, abandon our old ways, and change. So yes, such an attitude is cruel, for it invites additional misfortune upon ourselves and others. Therefore, step number one is not only to awaken ourselves, but also alert our fellow Jews to the urgency of the moment and the dangers that loom ahead. And yes, it would be the height of cruelty to dismiss that which is happening in the world today as mere happenstance. Great Torah luminaries of past generations, such as the Chofetz Chaim and Rabbi Elchanan Wasserman, told us that we are entering the final stages of history - a period in time called "Ikvesa DiMeshicha" - when the footsteps of Messiah can be heard. This period will be accompanied by terrible tribulations, but it is in our hands to overcome them.

Our Torah foretells four exiles through which our people would suffer: Egypt, Babylonia - Persian-Mede Empires, Greece, and Rome - (the exile in which we presently find ourselves, for it was the Romans who exiled us when they destroyed the Second Temple).

In Pirkei d`Rabbi Eliezer, an early Midrashic work, it is written that, before the coming of Messiah, we will have to contend with a fifth source of tribulation that will come from Yishmael - the Arabs, who will inflict terrible suffering on the world and on our people.

This teaching is reaffirmed by Rabbi Chaim Vital, the illustrious disciple of the Arizal, who wrote that, before the final curtain falls upon the stage of history, Yishmael will sadistically torture our people in ways the world has never before seen.

One need not have great powers of discernment to recognize the painful veracity of these predictions. Yishmael does not merely kill - he slaughters. Remember Daniel Pearl, who bound and forced to his knees proclaimed to the world, "I am a Jew," only to be decapitated. And then, remember our IDF soldier who was kidnaped and carried off to Ramallah. They literally chopped him into pieces and held up their bloody hands in a gesture of victory. They threw his remains out of the window to the frenzied waiting mob which danced upon his body parts until they were ground into pulp. What sort of a nation can do that?

We are the generation that has been destined to witness the fulfillment of the prophecy given to Hagar (Genesis 16:11-13). "Behold, you will conceive and give birth to a son, and you shall name him Ishmael.... and he shall be a wild ass of a man, with his hand against everyone and everyone's hand against him, and all over his brethren shall he dwell...."

The long arm of Ishmael's terror has indeed reached every part of the world.

Their barbarism continues unabated - Suicide bombings, decapitations, senseless and brutal acts of terror in face of which the world is silent.. And as always, when Jewish blood is spilled, the nations of the world look away. But we dare not! We must call out to our Heavenly Father, for only He can help us.

But again, what exactly does that mean? How do we navigate these stormy seas?

[To be Continued]


Moriah said...

For once I feel honored to be considered 'imbalanced' ;-)

Anonymous said...

I have, for a long time, loved very much the teachings of this amazing Rebbetzin. But.. I have one question I wish she would answer: why does she not speak of aliyah? and why does she, herself, not see that all the signs of which she writes are HaShem's invitations to come home now.

Moriah said...

I think she's gathering souls out here - bringing Jews that live in galut back to Hashem. Some Jews have a job to do before they make aliyah. Clearly hers is outreach...

Devorah said...

Anonymous, if you listen to Rabbi Sacks' video in the posting directly underneath this one, you will hear him explain why Lubavitchers [although Rebetzin Jungreis is not a lubavitcher] and others, will not be leaving the diaspora while there are still so many Jews who need to be brought back to the fold.
Lubavitchers also believe that when Moshiach comes, Jewish houses, shuls and institutions will be "flown" to Israel - the land of Israel will expand to accommodate all.
And the entire world will be known as "Israel" and Israel itself will be Yerushalayim.
I hope we're all around to see that.

Leah said...

Yes, there are many rabbanim who know that Moshiach is coming soon , yet will not abandon their fellow brothers and sisters.
I alway appreciate anything from rebbetzen jungreis especially her wods now more than ever. she is one of the amazing ones who are ringing the alarm bells. She is an inciteful person as well as a learned person who does not exaggerate.