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Life is a Test
By Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis
280 pages; $24.99
In her most riveting book yet, Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis tackles the "whys" that plague our lives, both on a personal and on a global level.
Life Is A Test is more than a page-turner; it is a blueprint for achieving our individual potential despite the trials and tribulations that shake our lives.
The book is divided into three sections. The first asserts that we are tested because we don't know ourselves or our special potential. The second section addresses different tests of relationships, while the third is aptly entitled "When Tests Are Wake-Up Calls."
It is in this last section that Jungreis sounds the alarm. This section addresses the whys of the Holocaust, subtle messages in the events of 9/11 based on numerology and prophecies connected to world events today, such as the Iranian threat.
Jungreis writes with the same palpable love of Torah, Israel and the Jewish people that she emits to crowds of over 1,000 at her Manhattan lectures. The tone of the book is comforting and reassuring throughout. In each situation presented, Jungreis underscores the folly of living a life centered on the physical and temporal at the expense of our eternal souls.
In this topsy-turvy world where things seldom turn out as we plan, Jungreis's book is laden with practical advice for a variety of situations. Tests come in many shapes and forms, and through the anecdotes scattered throughout the book, we come to see how the world-renowned "Rebbetzin" applies Torah wisdom to help people pass the tests of their lives. The particular situations explored in the book vary: be it a fall from fortune ("the easiest of all tests," as the author puts it), illness or a family death, the prospect of divorce, issues involving infidelity and resentment, rearing a difficult child and even reversing a child's impending intermarriage. She also offers singles a guide to dating effectively.
Jungreis attempts to tackle many different life challenges, but in doing so, the breadth of her problem-solving techniques is likewise limited. Life Is A Test is a jump-starter, but readers will likely need to follow up with other sources to solve more complex problems, such as Rabbi Dr. Abraham Twerski's collection of self-help books or Sima Devorah Schloss's Starting Over: Using Torah and the 12 Steps of Recovery to Find Happiness.
Jungreis, a Holocaust survivor who is no stranger to suffering, writes about the miracles of her own life and "God's many wondrous ways" that helped her become the founder of the international outreach organization Hineni, with centers in New York and Jerusalem. An international lecturer who regularly speaks on behalf of the IDF and the US military, her life mission is to combat what she terms a "spiritual holocaust" and bring fellow Jews closer to their faith. Anecdotes from her time at Bergen-Belsen and her early days in America are sprinkled throughout the book as a source of inspiration; namely, that our highs as well as our lows are all part of the journey our Creator has mapped out for us.
Simply put, Life Is A Test tugs at the heartstrings, and readers will mull over the wisdom on its pages for a long time.