From the desk of Rabbi Leonard (Yehuda) Blank MS, BCC
Director of Chaplaincy Commission and External Affairs
Rabbinical Alliance of America/Igud HaRabbonim
December 10, 2020
Yesterday was the concluding hesped for Rav David Ztkl. There is much to have gleaned from listening to all the diverse maspidim from the different hespeidim. One maspid asked how he became so great, so well known, such a Gadol. It began as a young child when he was just about 8 years old, learning from his father in Russia.He would listen and memorize whatever his father said out loud as he was learning. Being taught was forbidden. He would continue to learn from his father through the years and his own learning was phenomenal. But his humbleness was so remarkable in many aspects of his life. Many such aspects which I already wrote about and I am sure many of you have heard and read about these past weeks. He just did not think of himself as a Gadol. It is difficult to conceive how someone who was so brilliant, so articulate, so knowledgeable, so well thought of and to whom many Gedolim would discuss with him or sent to him many complex halachic and daily life issues, many end-of-life concerns that they themselves found difficult to decide about was not a Gadol, but it is true. This is a Rav who many world renown Gedolim, Roshei Yeshiva, would seek his expertise and knowledge on all facets of Jewish laws and customs. He knew shas inside and out. He just continued to grow and grow in his vast knowledge of halacha and could be asked anything and he knew the answer. If not, he surely would seek the correct source. His own father Rav Moshe ztkl wrote about him in his own seforim of his son David’s vast knowledge of halacha and found him in agreement to his own responses. Rabbi Boruch Moskowitz, the author of Vedibarta Bam, which are shailos and teshuvos from Rav David. Rabbi Moskowitz learned with Rav David for 26 years and was one of several Rabbanim who were maspid Rav David at hespeidim, sharing Rav Davids vast knowledge and how he could respond from many sources of halacha, shas etc what one might say at his fingertips. Rabbi Moskowitz shared how he often prepared many hours and sometimes days on a specific topic before presenting and discussing it with Rav David, and how Rav David could respond to a question or discussion about a specific topic in a matter of moments. There are many Gedolim today, but so many had considered Rav David one of the greatest. How often do individuals wish they could be as great as those Gedolim I did write in previous articles that it is possible to be as great in many ways. Honesty, erlichkeit, sincerity, kindness, caring for others, caring for our own families, for each other, to be respectful, compassionate, loving the Aibershta, emulating Him and walking in His ways, being humble. making a Kiddush H, not to be judgmental of others, do not think less of others etc., etc., etc. So many of Rav David’s attributes can we be like him and Boruch H we have so many Rabbanim who are truly remarkable and are wonderful role models for the mispallim and others. Amongst the many who were maspid at the various hespeidim were not Rabbanim of shuls. Everyone was you might say, hand picked because of their relationship to Rav David in the different venues the hespeidim were held. Rav David truly conveyed the importance of caring for our fellow Jews and for that matter just to be a caring person to everyone with a full heart. He never looked down at anyone. He gave of himself in so many ways and on many different levels, He would learn, advise, mentor, help and assist with such friendliness. Yet, he was firm on his beliefs and ways of the Torah. May he be a meiletz yashar for his Rebbetzin sol zein gzundt, his mishpacha, for Klal Yisrael.
I was asked by some if I listened to the Vice President Michel Pence yesterday when he addressed Jewish leaders before Chanukah on behalf of himself and President Donald Trump. My response to them was no, as it occurred the same time of the last hesped for Rav David. I myself was maspid the day before on Monday. I was told he spoke about Rabbi Jonathan Sacks ztl who he personally knew. That Rav Sacks was an Eved of H and all the wonderful things Rav Sacks did and how he represented the Jewish people throughout the world. He was respected by many on different levels including world leaders. He spoke about the continuity of addressing the concerns of anti-Semitism, the continuity of recognizing the State of Israel and positive relationship between the United States, Israel, and other parts of the world. He also thanked G for all that He has and continues to do. He shared his knowledge about the miracles of Chanukah and how the Jewish people were able to overcome their adversaries and adversity.
We pray that our government will continue for the years to come to have a positive relationship with the Jewish people in our country the United States of America, to continue to combat anti-Semitism throughout the USA and the world, and a positive and meaningful relationship between the United States and Israel. We are all grateful with deep appreciation for what we hope will be the light at the end of the tunnel dealing with the Coronavirus COVID 19 with the vaccines to be distributed ASAP which was achieved in record breaking time. Many professionals in the medical and scientific communities have mention it usually can take months before a brand-new treatment can be released or even accomplished. Let us pray the success of the vaccines can continue and that the vaccines become available throughout our country and the world.
Last week, I addressed the need to be in touch with the isolated and those who are alone during Chanukah. I have been asked how I will be doing this Chanukah. This is the first time I will be celebrating the holiday physically by myself. It was challenging preparing my menorah and placing it on a table set up by the window. After I lit the candles (I use oil) my wife would sit on one side of the small table and I on the other side of the table. The traditional phrases and songs would be song and during Chanukah the entire family would get together for a Chanukah party. This year due to COVID 19 there will be no large family get together nor will they be coming to visit me. No, I myself am not in quarantine. So, I will be doing it on zoom. Of course, I go to shul, shopping, cooking etc. I am not isolated though there are times of some loneliness. But what about those who are isolated, no family, no friends, no visitors, no computers to zoom and if they did have one, they might have no one to zoom to or with. It really is so important to address the needs of the isolated or those who are lonely or really feel lonely. Visiting them if possible, bringing or sending them Chanukah meals and or treats, singing songs and maybe if possible, joining them to light the menorah.
May everyone have a meaningful and joyous Chanukah. May we have shalom and be zoche Moshiach
Tzedkeinu Bimheira Veyameinu Amein.
Thank you. Sincerely, Yehuda Blank
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