The Committed Life: Principles for Good Living from Our Timeless Past

The Committed Life: Principles for Good Living from Our Timeless Past

by Esther Jungreis

Paperback(1 HARPER)

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Drawing on the timeless wisdom of the torah.Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis reminds us of the principlesnecessary for living a better and more committed life.Inspirational and deeply moving. This book willtouch your heart like no other.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780060930851
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 08/18/1999
Edition description: 1 HARPER
Pages: 352
Product dimensions: 5.31(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.88(d)

About the Author

Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis was born in Hungary and is descended from a great rabbinic dynasty that traces its lineage back to King David. Founder and president of Hineni, an international out-reach organization with centers in New York and Jerusalem, she writes a weekly column for the Jewish Press, has a weekly television program, lectures extensively, and has been featured in numerous national publications, among them The New York Times, Newsweek, Time, and People. She lives in New York.

Read an Excerpt

"A long life is not good enough,
but a good life is long enough."

A Committed Life
My husband was a paradigm of commitment in public as in private life, in war as in peace, in health as in illness, in life as in death. His dedication never faltered. In forty years of marriage I never heard him utter an unkind word, raise his voice, or lose his temper. He was a true reflection of his name, Meshulem, which in Hebrew means "complete," and indeed, he was a complete man.
The Mishna teaches that there are things in life that have no prescribed measure, things to which we must commit ourselves with a full heart, without reservation, without holding back. They include gifts for the poor and offerings to G-d, acts of loving-kindness, and study of the Torah, all of which make for a committed life.
Unfortunately, this threefold formula eludes most people because we live in a world in which our priorities have become skewed. We indulge in excess where we should be disciplined (materialism and physical pleasure), and we stint where we should be openhanded. We fail to recognize our responsibilities to the poor, our obligation to be generous and kind, and our imperative to study the Torah, and because of that, we do not understand the challenges of a committed life.
My husband understood. He lived by these precepts. He gave of himself above and beyond. To him, each and every person was holy. He reached out to one and all with generosity and love.
Every Friday, before the Sabbath, he would empty my freezer and take little gifts of cake and challah to the widows and widowers and those in need. You might, of course, wonder how it can be that people were inneed of challah and cake in a Long Island community. Thank G-d, such abject poverty was rare, but there are many forms of need. My husband heard the silent cries of lonely, broken hearts, and he responded to them. When he visited hospitals, it wasn't just a matter of discharging his rabbinic duties, and the story of little Yaffa is a case in point.
Yaffa, a kindergartner, fell from the monkey bars in her school playground. She was rushed to the hospital and needed major surgery. Every morning, before going to services, my husband would visit at her bedside, tell her stories to cheer her up, and then would call her parents to let them know that all was well. And this very same kindness was extended not only to Yaffa but to all those who were sick and hurting.
As for all rabbis, the High Holidays were an especially taxing season for my husband. He would return from synagogue exhausted, but he didn't permit himself to rest until he had visited every sick congregant so that they might hear the sound of the shofar. Remarkably, despite the overwhelming holiday turnout, he always knew who was missing from the services.
There are some people who extend kindness and consideration to strangers but for some reason fail to understand that acts of kindness must be offered to the members of one's family as well. My husband was the perfect father and grandfather. When the children were babies and would awaken in the middle of the night, he would say to me, "The reason why babies cry at night is so that their fathers should get up and learn Torah." With that, he would pick up the baby, put him or her in the carriage, and with one hand rock the baby back to sleep while with the other he turned the pages of the Talmud.
He was there to tell them stories and to show them how to draw and paint. He taught them the word of G-d, showed them the wonders of nature and made them marvel at the beautiful world that G-d created. When they started school, he was right there with them so that he might ease their way on that first traumatic day.
He would take the children to a pond near our house to feed the ducks. Years later, he did the same for our grandchildren. On the day of my husband's funeral, something incredible happened—the ducks crossed the road and stood at attention as the large procession, which included the Nassau County Police, passed. The police department came out in full force since my husband was their beloved chaplain. This was a sight that I had never seen in my thirty-two years of residence in the community.
My husband's pockets were always well stocked with candy so that whenever and wherever he met children, he would have something to offer them. He had infinite patience with every child, whether his own or those of a stranger. During the shiva period after his passing (the seven days of mourning for the passing of a spouse or blood relative), a little girl whose father was disabled cried to me, "The Rabbi helped me with my homework every night. Who will help me now?"
When I close my eyes, I see him with a baby on his big broad shoulders, but truth be told, he didn't only carry babies, he carried all of us, for such is the power of a man who lives a committed life. Even now I can hear his powerful yet gentle voice saying, "Worry? Negative thoughts? You have to banish them from your mind. Put a smile on your face even if there is no reason to smile, and G-d will give you every reason to smile."

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments xi
Introduction xiii
A Committed Life
The Rabbi of Szeged
Inviting G-D Into Your Life
Run, Shai, Run
Sometimes It Takes a Cat
Lighting Up the World
A Memory That Can't Be Erased
Tikun Olam-To Bring Healing to the World
But It's Not My Fault
Everybody Has to Give
Charity Begins at Home
Making Peace in the Family
Shalom-More Than Hello
But Who Wins?
Storming the Heavens
Sometimes the Answer Is No
Just Give Me a Call Once in a While
Why Should I Make the First Move?
Seven Times a Righteous Man Falls
No Soul Is Ever Lost
Banishing Fear
It's All for the Best
You Need Only Do, and the Blessing Will Come
Afraid to Live
Feeling Your Brother's Pain
Acts of Loving-Kindness
Love Him More
How Can You Believe?
Putting Yourself on the Line
Do Religious People Also Have Spiritual Conflicts?
The Shofar of Bergen-Belsen
From the Other End of the Heavens
It's Never Over
The Two Most Important Words
Cast Your Bread upon the Waters
The Holiness of Time
If Only
Gaining Control Over Yourself
Life and Death Are in the Tongue
Overcoming Anger
Overcoming Depression
Overcoming Temptation
Committing to Marriage
Matchmaker, Matchmaker
I Love You, But
There Are Issues
The Sabbath
You Have to Live It
The Magic of Shabbos
Creating a Family
Do I Have to Honor My Father?
Making Marriage Work
The Legacy of Grandparents
The Way Children Remember
In My Grandfather's Footsteps
Epilogue 331(3)
Author Information 334

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Committed Life: Principles for Good Living from Our Timeless Past 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is written with letters on paper which permeate right to your soul. This has been the most profound book I have ever read. If you feel that you have fallen off the path to G-d you are wrong. Rebbetzin Jungreis tells you so directly from her heart.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Rebbetizin, which is the title given to the wife of a Rabbi (in the Jewish faith), was not only the wife of a Rabbi but daughter, granddaughter and mother of Rabbi¿s, all of whom I felt l knew through her stories which skillfully related their wisdom, compassion and character. Each demonstrated great regard for their faith, the Torah, the Commandments, and living a committed life. Rebbetizin Jungreis was a Holocaust survivor and yet most of the book is dedicated to the other stories of her life, she does include a few tormenting stories of her family¿s life and of the few that escaped the Nazi¿s. She is an author, lecturer and teacher who founded, and still runs, a large organization called The Hineni (Heritage Center) which is committed to Jewish people reconnecting with their roots and their traditions. Although the book is written staying within the teaching of the Torah and the Jewish Faith, the teachings reach across all faiths to the essence of goodness, truth and God. She affirms the love of family, tradition, ritual, sacred readings and religion among other great principles for good living. To say that I was deeply moved by this book is an understatement and I will recommend it to many people.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a truly magnificent book, that i would suggest for people of all religions and backrounds. Rebbetzin Jungreis' tales are ingenious and really does help you to live a better life.