From the desk of Rabbi Leonard (Yehuda) Blank, MS, BCC
Director of Chaplaincy Commission and External Affairs
Rabbinical Alliance of America/Igud HaRabbomim
July 30, 2020
Feelings, Feelings, Feelings – Do we care? I mean really care about the other persons feelings. No, I do not mean our readership, I mean people in general. What about Rabbi Akiva’s wife. How did she feel when she wanted to see her husband and his talmidim thought otherwise? Why does a person feel it is necessary to know why someone was taken to the hospital by an ambulance? Why does one feel it is necessary to know the diagnosis, the prognosis anything and everything about someone who is in the hospital? Perhaps the patient or family does not want anyone to know what his or her condition is. Why does a person feel it is important to know all the details of why or how someone died? Perhaps there are details the family wish not to share. What about those who are wearing masks vs those who are not. I personally know a number of people who were recommended by their own physicians to wear a mask, keep with social distancing and clean their hands thoroughly because of a their medical conditions and I am not just speaking about those who are elderly. Of course, we all must have emunah, faith and hope in the Aibershta, but it is incumbent upon all to be sensitive, to be understanding, to be caring, to have feelings for and about others and not to be judgmental. Don’t judge a book by it’s cover. One really doesn’t know the condition of others whether it be medical, financial, or otherwise, just by looking at that person who keeps all his personal situations under the wraps. He/she might be having a tough time and not showing it.I have met individuals who mentioned they are curious as to why anyone is still cautious about contracting the COVID – 19 when all the reports are showing a major decrease in reported cases in New York. There are people who still do not attend synagogue, don’t do their own shopping and for the most part are still in a lockdown mode. They truly are concerned about Heaven Forbid catching the virus. The fear of ending up in the hospital with a serious ailment that could turn into a matter of life and death situation is frightening to them. Many do not have anti bodies and were never exposed to anyone who had the virus.
What about nicknames. Well for our younger readers, might not be familiar with all kinds of nicknames. Often, those nicknames were not complimentary. They might have referred to someone’s physical looks, abilities or non abilities and so on. I used to be called all kinds of names because of my last name is Blank or shorty for my height. My mother A”H used to remind me remember good things come in small packages. Aside being wonderful role models, the Gaon HaRav Moshe Feinstein ztkl and the famous chazan a Tzadik in his own right Yossele Rosenblatt were short, but tall in their greatness. I am thankful to the Aibershta for my achievements despite my height. I also got a boost when told about the well-known Mayor of New York City, Abe Beam who was also short. Actually, when I participated a number of years ago at a number of events at City Hall where I gave the various blessings, I was given the Abe Beam podium which was an extra box to stand on so I could be seen by the audience.
So many of our actions, what we do, what we say can lead to positive and meaningful interactions. If we could only convey and encourage all our fellow Jewish brothers and sisters the essence of achdus, the beauty of His mitzvos, how much He does care about us. Why wait for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur when we say Uteshuva Utefila Utzedaka. Now the time is ripe to show our love for our fellow Yiddim of all backgrounds – to be close to the Holy One with our prayers, with our benevolence, with doing good things bringing forgiveness, and meaning of life and to make a Kiddush H.
My wife Keila Lutza bas Shalom HaKohein A”H so inspired me to have Ahavas H, Ahavas Yisrael. When she lit the Shabbos candles and made the brachos, she davened for me, for the children, the grandchildren and family with such kavaneh. She had a list of people she prayed for to have a speedy recovery. Even in the latter days of her illness, would not partake of anything to eat or drink until she said the morning tefilos and brachos. One of the tefilos that had so much meaning for her was the Asher Yatzar, especially to be thankful to the Aibershta and for a refuah shelaima. She would hold the Chafetz Chaim Heritage Foundation Asher Yatzar chart and say with such feelings the bracha “Thank you H for the Miracles you do for me everyday!” I dedicated the latest printing which is also online to my wife which I have attached to this newsletter. Despite any difficulties she had, her love for H was truly special. An example of her many gemilus chasadim and maysim tovim was during a major blackout. She took out all the food from the freezer and refrigerator and made meals she distributed with one of my daughters to neighbors in our building. The neighbors especially the homebound and elderly were so grateful how she cared for others no matter what their background, culture or religion might be. She was known by so many for her kindness, her friendliness, her sincere smiles, and interest in others. Feelings, yes feelings. Rabbanim have such a beautiful influence on others. One of the greatest of all times was Hillel. He was known for his wonderful midos tovos and how he conveyed through his actions, his words, his maysim tovim the gadlus of the Ribono Shel Olom. If a person could expend the same energy speaking negative about someone or others speaking positive, would find twice as much good and feel so much better. There is so much good in this world of ours. There is so much kedusha that surrounds us. Is the cup half empty or is it half filled? Do we look at the half-filled cup with appreciation of what the Aibershta has given us or sadly despondent of what we do not have- that it is only a half a cup. It is no simple matter not to be sad with those things we need, but don’t always have. Or when someone loses a job. Or when a loved one becomes ill. Or when Heaven Forbid a loved one dies. We are not alone. The Aibershta loves us, but we do have feelings, emotions, tears and yes, times of joy and happiness. Those emotions, those feelings are not man made. They were given to us by our Creator. Sometimes we need a psychologist or other mental health specialist who can help sort out ones feelings .Whenever I look at pictures of my wife and I or with family and see the many chapters of our life brings tears to my eyes. Why, because I miss her so much. I am grateful for the wonderful gift the Aibershta gave me and my entire family and on Shabbos I still sing the Ashis Chayil. Until techias hamaisim, I would not ask for her to return for she is in Gan Eiden with all the other holy neshamos. On Tisha B Av we all cry for the tzar our brethren endured the many generations, missing the Bais Hamekdash and a way of life filled with tremendous kedusha we presently do not have. The Shabbos after Tisha B Av is Shabbos Nachamu. We pray for the Aibershta to bring us comfort and the coming of Moshiach Tzedkainu Bemhaira Veyawmainu with Shalom al Yisrael and shalom in the world. I mentioned how much davening to the Aibershta meant so much to my wife and how important the Asher Yatzar was to her and to me as well. I want to acknowledge a wonderful bachur who has inspired Klal Yisrael with his Asher Yatzar and that is Yosef Chaim Hecht so zein gzundt. As a zchus for his own refuah and tremendous gratitude to HaKadosh Boruch Hu he inspired others to recite the Asher Yatzar with kavaneh and as his distinguished Rebbe at the Yeshiva Darchei Torah, Rabbi Dov Keilson said it would be a zchus for all cholim to have a refuah shelaima. He also inspired my wife and I as he did for so many others. To hear both Yosef Chaim Hecht and Rabbi Keilson go to Asher to the Yatzar .com for the Asher to the Yatzar video.
Please use or encourage others to use the Asher Yatzar chart which I dedicated to my dear and beloved wife Keila Lutza bas Shalom HaKohen A” H. Thank you very much.
Please take the time to read the four exciting new programs being offered by Testing and Training International TTI that are included in this newsletter.