From the desk of Rabbi Leonard (Yehuda) Blank MS, BCC
Director of Chaplaincy Commission and External Affairs
Rabbinical Alliance of America/Igud Harabbonim
March 11, 21
So many things to think about preparing for Pesach. This Pesach should be different for those who will be having family at the Seder. But,we must not forget those who are still isolated, no mishpacha, no one to join or could join for any parts of Pesach. The homebound due to illness or just cannot prepare for any part of Pesach. What about having to take the Pesadika items that might be in storage or closets some might be too weak to do, let alone all the other responsibilities of getting ready for this special yom tov. Boruch H there are many organizations assisting with shopping, seeking essential items and not just food. Yes indeed, it is also a holiday with expenses and food alone can be quite expensive. But with all the challenges, we try to remember the famous saying of Rav Moshe, we should not say it is shlehct to be a Yid. That saying has been the cause of many through the generations who looked at their parent’s sharing their “misery” of keeping Shabbos, or Pesach while growing up and decided who needs to keep the traditions if they cause such hardships to such a degree that a parent would say it is hard to be a Jew. Sure, cleaning, shopping, cooking changing over to a Pesadika house or apartment can be challenging and for some cost prohibitive. However, in spite of the economic difficulties due to COVID 19, it seems the organizations assisting with so many aspects of essentials keep growing and more and more people who are capable volunteering and assisting financially, with food, clothing, and other things as well. Chesed in the Jewish communities knows no bounds and there are too numerous to mention in this article. I would like to mention at least one of those organizations as it was mentioned in the video about my wife A”H in the Rav Dovid’s legacy film- Chasdei Lev. It originated with my stepsons years ago for Rabbeim of yeshivos whose financial challenges, purchasing essential food and other related items was not easy. To show hakaros hatov to the Rabbeim of everyone’s precious children, they initiated Chasdei Lev. The yeshivos help subsidize a certain amount and the Rabbeim pay a certain amount. Together with donations to offset costs, a list is produced and distributed to the Rabbeim to be able to “purchase” many items way below costs saving hundreds of dollars. This is being done before Rosh Hashanah and before Pesach. What is truly spectacular is the Rabbeim are being treated with tremendous kavod with the Rabbeim having kavod and self esteem being recognized and appreciated for the vital and wonderful work they do throughout the year. What began for a small amount of Rabbeim has grown to over 4,000 from many locations throughout the USA and parts of Canada. The distribution is held at certain locations or delivered to other states. One distribution will be taking place this Sunday in Brooklyn with many volunteers of diverse ages coming to help. Huge container trucks roll in the night before unloading the precious merchandise with volunteers working the entire night through the next day. Vehicles arrive with the Rabbeim and or family. They are directed to a special area most in an assembly line. In fact, the Rabbeim received a number in the mail to put by the windshield so the volunteers could direct the driver which lane to be in. The drivers receive a beverage as soon as they arrive. It really is amazing. BUT don’t take my word for it. For those who have access to utube go to Chasdei Lev. You will be amazed what you will see.
So on to my next piece in this article which is about self worth. Last week, Artscroll had a special presentation on the sheloshim of Rabbi Dr. Abraham Twersky. Rabbi Nossan Sherman, Rabbi Berel Wein, Rabbi Pesach Krohn and a grandson of Rabbi Dr Twerski, shared personal insights to this remarkable rabbi, MD, therapist , human being. I would like to share some thoughts from Rabbi Wein who has known him for over 75 years. Rabbi Wein said from the early ages Rabbi Twerski was seen as an Iluuy, brilliant, clever, a true genius. His father was a well known and respected Chasidik Rebbe in Milwaki. Many considered his father to be able to determine the nature of visitors and what they were seeking from him. He was not a therapist, a doctor of anything. People came to his father the Rebbe not about positive happy things to share, only the tzores. Young Abraham learnt much from his father. He learnt to become a therapist from his father. His father as his son later on in life had a lot of compassion and how to listen to other people concerns they were going through. His son Abraham went to school, college, medical school and became a psychiatrist. Rabbi Wein said he was a fraud not seeking the hundreds of dollars as physicians/ psychiatrist fees and often not charging at all. You are a Rebbe doing it for free. He became an expert on addiction amongst other areas of mental health. He was able to deal with many existing things on this world. In Pittsburg he was recognized with tremendous respect and considered a holy man, by priests of other religions. He was Mekadeish H an the other clergy felt he was the one person who could truly help them. Rabbi Wein continues that he was able to accomplish many things in less times than others. He told R. Wein the importance of self worth and that many of the books he wrote were about the importance of self worth. All addictions and problems many have today occur due to a lack of self worth nor seek the help they could really choose. All addictions and problems we do not have proper regards for ourselves and our neshamos. We don’t drink, take drugs, take days of our lives, our pleasures because on the inside feel empty. It is important for educators, for parents, to instill self-worth in their child. One who is off the derech is because that person does not see himself nor feel any important, maybe goes yeshiva, might feel even less important, especially if this boy arrives home with his latest report card today. Rabbi Shimon ben Yochai has been seen in you’re his visit.
benei aliya people of superior talents always going up. Most of us are satisfied with what we have and level of knowledge we might have, but want to continue to progress. R Wein said until his dying days Rabbi Twerski was a benei aliya. He often corresponded with the Steipler Gaon how to gain the knowledge about medical issues. Through the years he was never frightened about what to do, had a vision of caring for others. He wanted to help instill in humanity self worth. Rabbi Dr. Twerski was truly erlich, he was sincere, he cared about others and Klal Yisrael, but he also knew how important it was to seek the education needed to enhance his own skills understanding and caring for others. He not only learned about the psych of men and women but how to embrace the issues causing mental health, addiction, and other ills of society which can bring a person to the lowest depths of humanity. As a doctor, he was able to prescribe medications when appropriate in concert with therapy. He never relinquished being a Chasidik Rebbe, but he did realize the necessity of combining when appropriate the passion and compassion he had in his education leading up to and including his title as Doctor of Psychiatrist. May we all be zoche the coming of the moshiah, to be able to fulfill the best of our lives with the blessings of the Aibershta, saying and doing what is right for Klal Yisrael, for ourselves being proud of what we do and how we do it. As we recite in the Shemoneh Esrei, May they find favor the expressions of my mouth and the thoughts of my heart before You H my Rock and my redeemer. He who makes peace in His heights may He make peace upon us, and upon all Israel Now respond Amain
All that we do, from our hearts for H. Not to forget whatever we are mispallel for should be whatever He wants for and from us and whatever we do should be from our hearts and our love of the Ribino Shel Olam should always be with Emes. May it be possible for us to always seek and do with kindness and goodness and to know our own self worth and enhance the self worth and esteem of others. Thank you.
Sincerely , Rabbi Yehuda Blank