From the desk of Rabbi Leonard (Yehuda)Blank MS, BCC
Director of Programmin, Chaplaincy Commission and External Affairs
Rabbinical Alliance of America/Igud Harabbonim
917- 446-2126 firstname.lastname@example.org
May 27, 21 ^^^
Some additional reflections. The final yartzeits were observed, and what a wonderful way to start a new beginning with the bar mitzva celebration of a grandson. The actual bar mitzva was held on a Shabbos, but the celebration was postponed with Daas Torah advice after the year of availus was over for my stepsons so the music and simcha could be united. Though all family members had personal feelings of void in their own hearts missing Bubby, Mommy, my wife A”H. Yet, the simcha was wonderful with the feeling she was shepping nachas with the presence of family being together and a simcha filled not only with spirited music and kovodika dancing, but the devrei Torah the pishetal given by the bar mitzva bocher, his proud father and rebbe, but also being graced by Roshei Yeshivos and Rabbonim. This is what my wife treasured, seeing much nachas from all the children from the Brady Bunch plus one and all the grandchildren in a Torah way of life filled with much chesed, kindness and happiness. Though all the relatives, and guests acknowledged in one way or another how much my wife was missed, it was a simcha of happiness and joy and not of sadness. The simcha was just as she would have wanted. It was a wonderful sign, the grandchildren continuing her mesorah as she was a remarkable role model, family being together bisemcha, and putting aside the weeping, those tears so everyone could and did join siman tov umazel tov. The family will continue to remember her in all her stunning attributes and as a spectacular mother and bubby. Her spirit will live on. But you may wonder what my feelings after all I have been sharing so much this past year. My feelings of her being missed was not just thinking about myself but thinking about the feelings of all those who were present. I was thinking that I too could and should be mesameiah the bar mitzva simcha without sadness. To have much pride and join in the dancing with that same happiness and joy. I was thinking about the future, being mispallel that the days and years ahead should be filled with much kindness and simcha not just for myself, but for all of us- those were her wishes. Taking pictures at anytime with children and or grandchildren whether it be at a simcha or any place else, is somewhat awkward, missing a better half. But life must go on even when pictures are taken it is important to remember- it is not about me/myself/I it is about caring and being thoughtful of others as well. So, my readership, you have read my journey, going from darkness to brightness. I hope to share with you other reflections with besuos tovos and maysim tovim, in addition to other thoughts in my articles.
There are many things going on in the world focusing on Jewish life as well as here in the Untied States of America. It is interesting to note, that the various acts of aggression are targeting all Jews. Of course, those who are obviously dressed looking Jewish are targets, but at one of the locations such aggressors were asking people to point out those who were Jewish. In Israel we saw on news reports rioting against Jewish people, destroying property, injuring, and even causing death. That same hatred is unfortunately being seen here across the USA and in other parts of the world using anti Israel Zionism to justify their anger and violent acts. We hope and pray that just as there are major movements to be concerned about other ethnic groups, to also be concerned about Jewish lives too. The Jewish way of life even for those who wish to publicly protest should always be in a peaceful manner. What is remarkable is Jewish men and women from many affiliations are voicing their concerns about and for all Jewish men and women. We should never change our friendly demeanor, our civility, our sincerity, and our care for others and always seek opportunities of making a Kiddush H. That does not mean we should not be cautious or careful in certain situations. We have been making positive inroads gaining the support of many as well as being proactive in protecting and defending lives working together with those in law enforcement such as Shomrim safety patrols .In New York City for instance both Governor Cuomo and Mayor DeBlasio have given firm directives to the New York State Police and the New York City Police Departments to defend and protect all members of the Jewish faith with a show of police presence especially in those neighborhoods where Jewish people young and old have been targeted with violent acts and out right threats of death to all Jews. The same is happening throughout the USA. It is horrendous when anyone causes harm to those of any different ethnic, cultural, or religious backgrounds. It is even more so bringing back memories of the Holocaust with not just individuals, but whole bands and groups parading with their cars and flags, shouting death to all Jews, and surrounding and accosting even teenagers, trying to force them to repeat terrible things. In one such case a taxi driver of Muslim descent saw what was happening stopped to help those yeshiva bochrim and drove them home to safety Boruch H. In Chicago what was supposed to be a peaceful rally was immediately stopped because the police were unable to guarantee their safety due to an expected protest against this planned peaceful rally. In NYC again, a brick was thrown through the window of a kosher pizza store in Manhattan.
It is sad when Israel and the Jewish people are being portrayed as the aggressors. So how should Klal Yisrael be? Should we change the way we interact with others? We cannot always change the thoughts and views of those who dislike those who are Jewish. However, we surely must not do anything that could cause a Chilul H. Whether it be a person in a professional capacity, a storekeeper, or any person who encounters others should always be respectful and courteous always making a Kiddush H. I would like to share the immense sincerity of healthcare chaplains who minister to men and women of diverse ethnic, cultural, religious, backgrounds many with different lifestyles. It is not unusual for chaplains to be engaged by patients regarding personal political, religious, or cultural views and it takes a caring, knowledgeable chaplain to know how to respond without getting into a heated discussion. The same should a chaplain have a patient whose way of life or lifestyle is not the same as his/her. So too, should a patient engage in hateful rhetoric verbiage the chaplain with excellent pastoral skills, will know how to proceed as only a chaplain knows how to. In practically every major medical center that has a spiritual or pastoral care department, has chaplains from diverse religions and backgrounds. Professional chaplains do not impose their own religion on those who their offer care to, but will give whatever support the patient, caregiver is needed or requested. Chaplains who have taken CPE, Certified Pastoral Education have been professionally educated and trained to meet the situations of many, both of patients, their caregivers, and staff. Professional healthcare chaplains who serve in other medical related facilities also have the finger on the pulse and know how to offer the same support. When needed, they will also obtain the support from other chaplains and clergy of other religions. From my own experiences, there were always challenges, but with my CPE and the essence of the meaning of Kiddush H has been a major part of wanting to do what is proper, caring for others, always remembering Torah, Avoda and Gemilus Chasadim. As Jewish healthcare chaplains we are always reminded who we are and who we represent, we are part of Klal Yisrael’s ambassadors. Having also been a police department chaplain proudly wearing a uniform, yarlmuka and the Luchos on my uniform lapel, gave be another perspective of how and when to make a Kiddush H, being in the public eye as well as amongst the thousands of police and civilian members of the police department.
In my recent articles about my interactions with those of other backgrounds including the bus driver I spoke about. Well one day when I was not with my chaver at the bus stop that bus driver mentioned to him he missed me and asked my chaver to send me his regards. On Monday while walking on Grand Street without my chaver, that same bus driver saw me slowed down, blew his horn waved to me with a big smile. I of course waved back. I now have other bus drivers who I have met doing the same. Here is another what one might seem as insignificant but another Kiddush H. On Tuesday while walking with my chaver we waited at a corner for the walking sign to light up. Next to us was a mother and her child. She made sure to acknowledge how we in front of her child waited for the walking sign and crossing guard which she appreciated. So, what was the Kiddush H. This could have been a nice thing some adults did. The mere fact that we were obviously Jewish doing something proper was the Kiddush H. Each of us can relate to wonderful acts of Kiddush H. Rabbonim and rebbitzens, always convey throughout the year ways of Kiddush H to their mispallim.
What is tremendously important is to have achdus, shalom and no machlokes amongst Klal Yisrael. Rabbi Yissocher Frand in Rabbi Frand on the Parsha by Artscroll Series published by Mesorah Publications Ltd in Parshas Naso “Nesanel’s Dilemma” (pages 207-208) discussing from the Midrash Nesanel ben Tzur’s decision to bring the same offering as Nachshon ben Aminadav offering which was then followed by the other princes. “If Nesanel were to go one up on Nachshon, there would be no end to it. The pressure would mount, as would the anger, the resentment, the jealousy, and no doubt the lashon hara as well. So Nesanel ben Tzuar did a wonderful thing. He brought the same offering as Nachshon. This enabled all those behind him to do the same thing, and thus all their offerings were identical. Nesanel set the tone-all Jews are the same. The Midrash concludes that H showed His pleasure in an unusual way. A korban yachid, a private offering, is never brought on Shabbos, only a korbon tzibbbur, a communal offering. The offerings of the tribal princes, however, were brought on twelve consecutive days, including Shabbos, even though they were korbanos yachid. Since these offerings were deliberately identical, to avoid hatred and jealousy, since they promoted a sense of community and harmony, H considered them as korbanos tzibbur and allowed them to be brought even on Shabbos.”
I would like to share this quote with you from Rebbitzen Malkie Machlis
a well known and outstanding Menaheles regarding the word shalom.
“The word Shalom means Peace while the word Machlokes means disagreement. The root word of machlokes is chelek (part). When you only know part, or one side of the story, you might have a disagreement. If you look closely at the first and last letter of the word machlokes, it spells out the word Mais, mem and taf which means dead. Because of your disagreement, your relationship might be dead. The word Shalom on the other hand has its root in the word shalaym (complete). When you listen to both sides, or the complete story, then you understand the other person’s point of view and Shalom-Peace reigns.”
Here is another quote regarding the word shalom from Yitzy Adler a talmid at Yeshiva Chaim Berlin Beis Medrash. He and his brother Yochanan Adler, a talmid of Rav Dovid Feinstein ztkl and Rav Berel Feinstein sol zein gezundt often contribute their quotes to a yeshiva website. “What is the connection between Birkas Kohanim and Chanukas Hamishkan that they’re written right next to each other? The Sifsei Kohen al HaTorah writes the Birkas Kohanim ends with the bracha of shalom. It is only through shalom that we are zoche to have a mishkan and wherever there is shalom, it is as if the Beis Hamikdash and Shechina are there. We see how important shalom is”.
We do not know why so many things have recently happened, at Meron, at Stolin, the riots and war in Israel, and now the uptick in anti- Semitism throughout the world. The Ribono She Olam is giving us messages. Yes, shalom is important and together with achdus, emunah, being Mekadeish H, will bring the redemption earlier. It is up to Klal Yisrael to bring ourselves closer to the Ribono Shel Olam. Let us remember Tefilah, Tzedaka and Teshuva we say on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Let our maysim tovim help us in that pursuit. Let us be mispallel public opinion will continue to change for the better and their support against what is happening will be a favorable outcome. Klal Yisrael must stand united. We must always remember that everything is up to the Ribono Shel Olam. May we be zoche the geula sheleima bekarav, and shalom al Yisrael.
Thank you. Sincerely. Rabbi Yehuda Blank