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TorahAnytimes Newsletter Noach

Parshat Noach

Compiled and Edited by Elan Perchik


"The TorahAnyTimes" Newsletter

Parashat Noach                                                                       Print Version
6th of Cheshvan, 5781 | October 24, 2020

Compiled and Edited by Elan Perchik

Rebbetzin Chaya Sora Gertzulin
Let’s Get to Work

The Book of Bereishis conveys to us the story of creation, and gives us insight into what is the essence of man.

The first man, Adam, was formed from the adamah, the dust of the earth. Hashem then blew His spirit into Adam, giving him “nishmas chaim, the breath of life”, the spirit of Hashem that is within each and every one of us. It is that divine spark that enables us to reach great heights, and gives us the potential to become “G-d like”.

This is what man’s being is all about. To have a neshamah, a soul. To make decisions that elevate us to an entire new sphere of being. That breath of life – that divine spark – is in each and every one of us. We only have to tap into our neshamah, and follow the ways of Hashem. The Talmud teaches us that just as Hashem is kind, compassionate, and merciful, so too, we should be caring and generous, sympathetic and concerned, kindhearted and forgiving. That is how we light up our inner spark.

The Shelah HaKodesh teaches that while the name Adam is derived from the word “adamah” (earth), it is also related to the word “adameh”, meaning “to be like.”

We have a choice. To be earthly, very much part of the physical world – adamah, or to elevate ourselves and be G-d like – adameh l’elyon, to follow in the ways of Hashem. It is up to us.

The Hebrew letters of the word Adam (aleph, dalet, mem) can also be rearranged to spell out the word “meod” (mem, aleph, dalet), meaning plentiful or abundant. Man is a being of “wants”. Meod – more and more. We need to ask ourselves: What will our wants be for the new year? Will they be on the level of adamah, the earth, the mundane, or will we raise our inner bar and make it a year of adameh, a year to follow in the way of Hashem.

Let us make this year, 5781, a year of spiritual meod – more mitzvos, more giving, more thoughtfulness, more davening, more expressing gratitude, more patience, more being there for others.

Hashem gave man the job of Tikkun Olam – to perfect and repair the world. Our world is in need of much healing and repair.

It’s time to get to work.

Rebbetzin Slovie Jungreis-Wolff
Your Life, Your Light, Your Legacy

The story I am about to tell you is an example of living life better, and one which has touched me so much. It happened just months ago and I have permission to share it with you.

In one of my classes, I told the story of the Kotzker Rebbe who was walking one day and saw a little boy. He turned to him and said, “Child, tell me, where is Hashem?” The little boy looked at him confidently and said, “Hashem is everywhere.” The Kotzker Rebbe said, very gently, “My child. G-d is only where you allow Him to enter.”

I said in the class that if you allow Hashem to enter your heart, your mind and your space, you will find Hashem even in these days.

After that class, I received a phone call, and a mother put her ten-year-old daughter on the phone. The young girl said that she was listening just to the introduction of that class, and a few days later, she said to her mother, “Mommy, I heard the few words of that class. I heard the story, and you know what? I want to connect more to Hashem in my life. I want to do more. I want to pray more. Just like that story. Just like that Rebbe said. How do I connect more to Hashem? I want to pray more.”

When I heard this child on the phone, I said, “Let me tell you something. You could think, what could a ten-year-old do? How can I change the world? I am ten years old. What do I do? Not only did you just change yourself, did you not only inspire yourself, but you changed me, you inspired me, and if I am able to share your story with other people, then every single person will be inspired by you. We need more of you in this world to spread your magic. How incredible is it for a ten-year-old girl to be able to take a story and say, ‘I am going to live life better?’”

How many of us are able to do that? We have incredible power, incredible energy, and we also are an incredible nation.

One morning, I received an email from another mother, and allow me to share it with you because it touched me as well.
This mother told me that her son wrote a book report on the biography about my mother a”h, The Rebbetzin. This little boy wrote a gorgeous book report, and since then, he has been trying to study and learn a little bit more together with his six-year-old sister. They asked their mother if instead of going to sleep, they could stay up and watch my class together?

Is that not beautiful? So I say, “Hashem, look from the Heavens Above and look what a nation You have. Look what children You have. You must have so much nachas. We all could be anywhere, doing many other things and we are coming together to study Torah.”

So, to these children, I want to say thank you. Thank you for inspiring me and spreading your magic in the world. And know that you have so much to offer the world. You give me and give so many others so much nachas.

I remember, it was the week of shiva for my mother. It was a very difficult week. One of my children told me that he had written a letter to my mother, and I knew that my mother had put that letter into her book of Psalms, into her Tehillim. That week of shiva, my child asked if I could perhaps find that letter and give it back to him so that he would be able to hold it and read it forever.
Somehow it was not in her book of Tehillim. It wasn’t there. Every day and every night after shiva, I would search for my child’s letter, but I couldn’t find it. I just couldn’t find it.

The last day of shiva came and I still couldn’t find the letter. And it was time to say goodbye. I went home, walked into the house and sat down for a moment. Then suddenly, my phone rang. It was my sister. “Did you find the letter?” I said. “Is that why you are calling?” “No,” she said. “I didn’t find the letter, but I found something else. I have been going through all the drawers trying to find the letter, and I found a different letter. I found a letter Imma wrote to all of us. It is sealed. Come back. Come back to Imma’s house and we will open it together.”

So there I went. I turned around and went right back to my mommy’s house. We sat down together, and began to read. It was a five-page letter.

At the end of the letter, after which my mother gave us her hopes, her dreams, her wishes and her prayers, she left us these words, which I would like to share with you. She first wrote that I am going to write these next words in Yiddish, and I know that you don’t know Yiddish and you are going to break your teeth. But I am still going to write it in Yiddish, and I will translate.
I am always with you, my precious child, my light.

I am always with you, my precious children, my precious lights.
In this world, and in the next world, I will never, ever leave you alone.

And my soul is intertwined with your soul.

Every Jew… I don’t care who you are, I don’t care where you have come from; you have a bubby, you have a zaidy in the Heavens Above who has prayed for you, who is watching over you, and don’t ever forget that. You are never alone. Not in this world, and not in the Next.

You must be proud to be a Jew and never forget who you are. You are meant to ignite the world with your passion, and create light where there is darkness.

But how exactly do we do this?

Whenever we light our Shabbos candles, on Friday night, we say, “Shelo yichbeh nereinu l’olam va’ed – Our candles should never be extinguished.” How is it possible that you and I create a flame in this world that is never extinguished? That is called a legacy. And I would like to share with you the legacy that my mother gave me.

The first legacy that my mother taught me is the gift of being proud to be a Jew; to know who you are in this world; to live with purpose and mission, no matter where life takes you.
My mother would share with us that when she was a little girl, she was taken to Bergen-Belsen. Every morning, there was a roll-call. There she was, starving, freezing, her head shaven, covered with sores and lice.

She would have to stand at attention. The Nazis would have their fur lapel coats, their shiny boots, their fur hats, and their stomachs filled and satiated. But my mother said that even as she stood in that snow during roll-call every single morning, there was never a moment she wished to be like one of the Nazis. “I only wanted to be me; the daughter of mamma and zaidy,” she said. “The daughter of Hashem. The daughter of the king. I would never want to be one of them.”

Our legacy is to take pride in who we are.

That week when I was sitting shiva, the publisher of the Jewish Press where my mother had a column for over 50 years, came to visit and said, “You know how your mother began? Do you know how your mother began to write for our paper?” I had no idea.

The woman said to me that she was at a hotel one summer, along with my father and mother. My parents were a young couple, and my mother was a young Rebbetzin. She was just beginning. My father approached the editor of the paper and said, “You have a marvelous paper, but you need one more column. I think it would be good if you have an advice column.” “That’s a great idea,” the publisher said. “But who is going to write it?” “Oh,” my father said, “my wife.” As my mother heard this, she piped up, “Me? I never wrote a column before; I can’t do that.” “Sure, you could,” said my father.

My mother thought a few moments, and then said, “Okay, I will do so, but on one condition. We call the column, ‘Rebbetzin’s Viewpoint.’” “Rebbetzin’s Viewpoint?” wondered the publisher. “Why would you want to call your column that?”

“Because,” and the editor told me she would never forget this response, “I want Jewish women and girls all over the world to know that to be a Rebbetzin is awesome!”

On the thirtieth day after my mother left this world, I was scheduled to travel to Mexico to speak. I was torn. I was emotional. But I knew that this is what my mother would want.

And so, I traveled to Mexico and we had a beautiful Shabbos.
On Shabbos afternoon, I spoke for a few hundred women and I said, “When you leave this Shabbos, maybe some of you will be inspired. You will want to go to another shiur, to study more, to be more, to delve into Torah more, to speak differently. As you do that, some people in your life may say, “What are you, a Rebbetzin or something? Remember the words of my mother and say back to these people in your life, “Yes, because to be a Rebbetzin is awesome!”

The second gift that my mother gave me was the gift of bringing light into the world. All of us have the ability to bring light into this world, and create tremendous light where there is darkness.
When I was a little girl, I would watch my mother light her Shabbos candles. There was one candle stick that always stood alone. I recall asking my mother once, “Imma, what is the story with that Shabbos candle? Why does that candle stick stand all by itself?”

My mother explained to me that I am named after my great-grandmother, the Rebbetzin Slavah Chana. My zaidy, my grandfather’s parents, were the chief rabbi and Rebbetzin of a city in Hungary called Nadudvar. My zaidy was Rabbi Yisroel HaLevi Jungreis and his wife, the Rebbetzin, was Rebbetzin Slavah Chana.

It was when the winds of war were blowing over Europe that my zaidy and my bubba, the chief Rabbi and Rebbetzin, went out in the dark of the night, into the courtyard of their shul, and began to dig together. They dug a deep hole into the cold earth. And in that hole, they placed their Shabbos candle stick, their menorah, their kiddush cups, and then they covered the earth.

It was just a few days later that my zaidy and my bubba were taken away to Auschwitz. During the last moments of my zaidy’s life, he was seen walking into the gas chambers holding his three-year-old grandson in his arms. That was the last moments of his life.

The Holocaust came, and my parents were taken away. My father and mother were actually fifth cousins. My father was in a slave labor camp, and my mother, in Bergen-Belsen, with her two brothers and her parents. Somehow, through the grace of G-d, my mother survived along with her parents and two brothers; but my father lost his entire family. His father, his mother, his sisters, his brothers, aunts, uncles and cousins.

Before the Holocaust there were eighty-five rabbanim with the name Jungreis in Hungary. It was the largest rabbinical dynasty, and every single one perished. Gone. But my zaidy, my mother’s father, survived, and he came to America with his children. He had been the chief rabbi of Szeged and he arrived in America. They settled in a little, one-bedroom apartment in East New York, where my grandmother set up shower curtains to create separations in the apartment so that everyone could have a little space and privacy.

One night, there was a knock at the door. “Who is it?” my zaidy asked. And from the other side of the door came the voice. “I am the last surviving Jew of Nadudvar. Is this Rabbi Jungreis?” My zaidy opened the door. “Rabbi Jungreis,” said the man, “I went back to Nadudvar. I went back to see if I could find anyone, to see if there were any survivors, and there is nothing left, Rabbi. But I went to the shul and I found this.” And my zaidy was given at that moment the licht, the candlestick, that my bubba, the Rebbetzin Slavah Chanah, had buried in the earth. The candlestick had her name engraved on it.

My zaidy gathered around his children and my mamma, my grandmother, and said, “Lichting kinderlach, my sweet, precious lights, a message has come to us from the ashes. Hashem is sending us a message. We don’t give up. No matter what happens in life, we don’t sit in the darkness. Instead we kindle light, we illuminate the world; we bring light where is darkness. This must be our mission in this world.”

When I was born, my mother named me Slavah Chanah, and my zaidy gave this candlestick to my mother. Every Shabbos my mother would light it. When my mother left this world, this candlestick became my legacy.

Every Friday night, I wrap my hands around the light, I make my blessing and I remember the message of the light. I remember that no matter what, here we are. We are a living miracle and are entrusted with the sacred mission of living the legacy of illuminating the world with light.

A Short Message From
Rabbi Yoel Gold

I once heard a beautiful insight from Reb Avraham Fried. Why do we specifically make a l’chaim on alcohol and spirits? Why don’t we generally make a l’chaim on juice – grape juice or apple juice?

It is because when you put alcohol into the freezer – into difficult surroundings and circumstances – the alcohol stays true to itself. It never freezes. Similarly, when we as Jews face trying times, we remain strong and spirited that we will make it through, and hope and believe that Hashem will grant us the inner prowess to do so. In that sense, we make a l’chaim. It is a l’chaim to the strength and commitment embedded within the spirit of the Jew, within the very fiber and fabric of Am Yisroel. We, no matter what comes our way, stay true to ourselves.

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