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My Night in the Emergency Room

My Night in the Emergency Room

On the day of my mother’s unveiling, her words from the past came to comfort me.


I was in my kitchen following directions for a new muffin recipe when the immersion blender got stuffed with the dried ingredients, clogging the sharp blades. For a second I thought to myself, let me unplug the machine, but somehow I didn’t.

I know. Big mistake.

I put my finger in to scoop out the thickened flour and before I knew it the machine went swirling. I screamed out for my husband to call Hatzalah, the emergency volunteer corp. Grabbing a towel, I wrapped it tightly around my finger. We ran outside, my hand lifted, pointed to the sky.

A few moments later we heard the sound of sirens. My husband and I climbed into the ambulance. I was afraid to look and turned away as my finger was examined. No doubt about it, I needed to get to a hospital. I kept giving my husband a brave smile but the truth is, I had no idea about how much damage was done. I was frightened and scared. And yes, it was painful.

The Hatzalah volunteers raced us to a nearby hospital. They brought us in to the emergency room and reassured us that all will be all right.

All around me there were people waiting to be helped. Police were clustered around a room where they were guarding a crime victim with a gunshot wound. Some lay moaning on their stretchers. This is going to be a really long night, I thought to myself.

The Hatzalah crew took care of getting me checked in and quickly returned with news.

“The doctor on call tonight is a wonderful plastic surgeon. He’s part of the local community and guess what his specialty is? Hands!”

I was overwhelmed with gratitude.

“I can’t believe it,” my husband added. “I know him. We grew up together and went to the same shul as kids.”

Even more unbelievable because the shul is in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

I was settled on a stretcher still holding up my heavily bandaged finger while we waited for the doctor who was treating another patient.

My husband began pacing. “Is the pain terrible?” he asked.

“It’s ok.” I gave a thin smile.

So many thoughts were going through my head. Why didn’t I just unplug that machine? What was I thinking? Who knows what this will involve? And wow, does this ever hurt!

Then I remembered something my mother taught me years ago. When Joseph was sold by his brothers and taken down to Egypt, he was put into a caravan. Normally, there would be smelly tar taken as the caravan’s cargo but to spare Joseph the awful stench, God arranged that on this journey there would be fragrant spices instead. When Joseph would smell the spices he’d realize that he was not forgotten. This would be a personal sign to him. Even in the midst of his pain and suffering, he was receiving a comforting message from Above.

At this moment I truly got it.

In the midst of your pain, look for a sign and seek a token of something good. Try to smell the sweet spices and you’ll get through your challenge feeling loved despite the pain.

“Here we are in this emergency room,” I said to my husband. “It’s the middle of the night, we’re both exhausted and I have no idea how this will turn out. But with it all, I feel comforted. The doctor here is a plastic surgeon hand specialist whom you grew up with! What are the odds? I am smelling the sweet spices. I am feeling the Almighty watching over me.”

A short while later the doctor treated me and thank God I my hand will heal without lasting damage. We were finally ready to return home.

It had been a difficult day. That morning we had stood in the cemetery for the unveiling of my beloved mother, Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis. Prayers were recited and tears were shed. Even though the distance from that tragic moment of loss grows wider, the searing pain remains. I yearn for another conversation, another laugh, another Shabbos meal shared, another blessing that will never be.

But if we can hold onto the lessons that a parent has given us, then the soul is forever with us, guiding us, inspiring us, and infusing us with strength. That is the parent’s legacy.

That night my mother’s words echoed to me in the night, bringing me comfort and soothing my soul.

July 8, 2017

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Visitor Comments: 10

(10) Charline Birdsall, July 17, 2017 2:59 PM

what to pray

When times get really tough I repeat the 23rd Psalm. Each verse covers every area of our lives, but the first thing David did was to praise the L-RD!!! This sets your mind in the right approach for the rest of the verses!!!

(9) John Hughes, July 16, 2017 5:06 PM

Hi Slovie, First and foremost I'm very happy that your ok. I'm sure it was a frightening experience at first . I am thankful that you shared such a remarkable story with me and countless others. You taught me a lesson on taking extra precautions. But, the most important thing , you taught me was to look for some kind of message from above to help me get through any frightening experience should I come across one .

(8) MESA, July 11, 2017 2:42 PM

First, accidents like that can happen to anyone. I once sliced my pinkie on a peeler (I do still love that peeler though- it works better than any other). B"H, we have a neighbor in our shul who could help me and I was fine. Second, your mother's teachings echo far and wide. I try to remember them myself when things happen and they've served me well. I remember your mother saying that your father was more alive than ever in his children, grandchildren, and Torah teachings. Now, your mother is alive in her Torah teachings. Kol Tuv.

(7) Anonymous, July 11, 2017 3:55 AM


(6) Esther Shayna, July 10, 2017 10:44 PM

The Rebbetzin's impact is just beginning

B"H I too, yearn for your Mother, having studied with our beloved Rebbetzin Jungreis, for over 8 years. If I miss her, how much more you, who had the privilege of being her daughter. Just recently, on a Thursday, I returned to New York by bus from D.C., where I now work. When I sat down on the NYC bus, I found in my seat, a brand new Mahzor. I asked around if anyone on the bus had left it behind. As I was asking on the bus to find the owner, a woman started to talk to me. (Given the holiness of the book, I did not want to just turn it over to the driver, as it deserves special treatment, i.e., not to be put on the floor, or have things stacked up on it.) My bus acquaintance told me she had studied with Rebbetzin Jungreis, having compiled in writing, a years' information from the Rebbetzin. This woman even recounted how she told the Rebbetzin that, having gone to a Chuppah at a Shul in Manhattan, her bag went missing. It was one of those pouring rain nights, just torrid. She could not find her bag in Shul. Weeks later, a person tracked her down. Someone had taken the money, but had left her bag -and the Rebbetzin's Shiurim, transcribed by this student of hers- inside a phone booth. Everything else was intact, not soaked. The Rebbetzin's Torah teachings, years' worth of Torah wisdom, remained intact. The lady on the bus told me that Rebbetzin Jungreis instructed her, to make public and share with everyone, that our Torah is forever, its teachings are eternal. That no rain, or time or inclemency can erase our Torah. I listened carefully, intently, deeply moved, since this was a Thursday when Esther Jungreis but two weeks ago, was still teaching me. When back in NYC I will go to the bus lost and found and register a found Mahzor. I take this opportunity to ask you to please tell me what bus you were on in Manhattan on Thursday,the 29th of June, if you are the Mahzor's rightful owner, that I may return it to you in the merit of my Rebbetzin.

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