From the desk of Rabbi Leonard (Yehuda) Blank, MS, BCC
Director of Programming, Chaplaincy Commission and External Affairs
Rabbinical Alliance of America/Igud HaRabbonim
917 446 2126 firstname.lastname@example.org
June 10, 2021 ^^^
PERSONAL REFLECTIONS AND WORDS OF ENCOURAGEMENT
When I wrote about the Rebbitizen Shima Feinstein award presented (by Harav Reuven Feinstein), in memory of my wife Keila Lutza bas Shalom HaKohen A”H which was included in the video about Rav Dovid ztkl , I also mentioned about a letter I wrote to her. It was included in the yeshiva’s journal. That journal proudly has that letter in lieu of an ad as seen below. Please note that the three events mentioned in the “letter” has since taken place.
I was at a recent vort for my grand nephew and his kallah. One of the delicious items available was sushi. I’m one of those who enjoyed sushi as did my wife. The last time I had any was over two years ago. It has been a year since she was nifteres and more than a year prior she was limited on what she could eat as she had a stent placed in her esophagus which permitted her to eat and drink items she was unable to for almost a year prior to her receiving that stent. Though she was limited on what she could eat to prevent anything from getting clogged in the stent, she was so grateful to the Ribono Shel Olam and kept saying it was like a miracle that she could now eat and drink . Due to the tumors, eating and drinking became almost impossible. Yet, her appreciation to the Aibershta was remarkable. Always with a positive outlook in life. To her, the glass was always full. I was extremely careful what food items she could eat, yet not micromanaging or being overwhelming. A difficult position to be in as there were items she wanted to eat and items she knew she could not. Another magnificent mida of hers was never, ever to hurt anyone’s feelings by giving any impression she could not or did not eat certain foods prepared for her by others. She always insisted on both of us complimenting and praising how delicious the food was and grateful for the person(s) who prepared anything for her. She made every attempt to at least taste the delicious food items even if she was unable to eat it. If she could not eat the food, but at least I did which made her happy. The dieticians and doctors were very exact and gave strict instructions to follow. Unfortunately, as time went on she had to receive IV fluids and other supplements which I also was taught. We were blessed to have many who offered food. Our children went above and beyond always cooking up a storm for both of us. They wanted so much to make things easier for me and to show their tremendous love for Mommy. The Brady Bunch plus one never missed an opportunity for their undivided love for her. I was told the following from several people who wanted to share their heartfelt sentiments, but I opposed this comment and will explain why. “Wow it must have been like________(the opposite of heaven) with all that I went through ”. My response had always been and remains, there wasn’t anything- at any given time that I did not consider it a zchus, tremendous love and appreciation for my wife caring for her. Knowing her baseline was essential and extremely necessary when going with her to all appointments or sleeping over in the hospital when she needed certain treatments. The loving support from all the children was so meaningful. There wasn’t anything any of the children would not do for either of us. However, I attribute my wife who gave me the encouragement to do what was necessary and needed. Her kindness, her sweetness, her desire to show appreciation when times were difficult, even in the middle of the night, she was so precious and had so much concern for me. Can you imagine apologizing to me for keeping me up or waking me in the middle of the night though most of the time I couldn’t sleep anyways with so much feeling for her during challenging times. I am so grateful to the wonderful doctors at Sloan and to their Urgent Care and hot line I used frequently. Everyone at Sloan giving such fantastic care and support. The wonderful comments shared in the many ads placed in the MTJ journal were so meaningful about what kind of person my wife was, how grateful they were for her friendship, and everything she stood for. Also for the tremendous loss to the communities she had an impact on and for being a dear and wonderful Aishis Chayil. Towards the last months, weeks and days, I watched her and observed the various symptoms and how she was deteriorating physically. I did not want to lose her, but H had other plans. There are many, thousands upon thousands of stories, the heros of caregivers. Anyone who is a caregiver, usually does so out of love, out of close relationship, out of deep and sincere appreciation for their relationship and for whom that person is to them. I was not a hero, nor the cliché “I was just doing my job”. Words alone cannot express my appreciation to the Ribono Shel Olam for giving me the opportunities to care for such a holy person. I can go on and on, but my articles also must reflect other important items as well. However, to be able to give chizuk to others, one must show where that chizuk comes from and what direction must one take going ahead in life. After she was niftere there was no relief, no sighing it was over and now I can relax. On the contrary, there is so much to build on, not just by me, but the entire family. Yet, because of how she was, it seems so unique, so easy to carry on, because we are all doing just as she wanted us to. I remember working with a family some years ago helping them with funeral arrangement, doing their loved ones funeral. They did not observe any type of mourning, went to work the next day and removed their black ribbon. Their feeling was more than one day was enough for their mourning period. They too continued their lives as they so chose to do. The difference is our family observed and followed all the halachos. All the children of the Brady Bunch Plus one and all the grandchildren weaved their daily lives this past year understanding the meaning of life with what Mommy and Bubby wanted from all of us. Sounds like a “tall order”, but that is what she wanted. It is possible to go on with life, but how is up to each person now and in the future. Our Sages teach us not to have excessive mourning. That does not mean to forget, but to return to a normal life. For family members it might mean to have a new relationship, to be successful and productive in daily life, nachas from children and grandchildren, bar and bas miztvos, vorts, lechayims, weddings, and so much more. There are those who have extended grief, who are not able to come to grips and to move on in life. Therefore, anyone who is having a difficult time should seek bereavement services from a qualified professional. Yes, a rabbi can be a wonderful resource and often a partner in helping a person or persons with their difficult and challenging times. But should that grief persist or becomes overwhelming, a grief counselor or mental health professional should be consulted asap. Not doing so can lead to serious consequences. Do not get stuck, help is on the way. Personally, I have been attending simchos, feeling so much more freedom not having to wear a mask whenever and wherever possible. So why continue to share many of the personal reflections as above. These are areas I might not have touched upon and additional views from my lens how I and mishpacha too have been able to cope and yes, continue in life with dignity and respect for my wife A”H. If she could speak, to us perhaps she would say to all the family children and grandchildren the following, “My dear husband, children and grandchildren (and great grandchild), I am ok. I am in a wonderful place called Gan Eiden located in Hawolam Habaw. I cannot describe what it is like, but it is full of kedusha and near the Kisei HaKavod. I am together with other family members, with dear friends who left Hawolam Hazeh a long time ago, and so many Holy Neshamos. You don’t have to worry about me. I really am ok. I no longer have any pain, don’t have to take any medications and it is so serene here. I just want to make sure you are all ok and doing all those things that made me happy when I was with you. Knowing that you really are taking good care of yourselves, are happy and doing all the wonderful mitzvos that mean so much to H. You and Abba/ Zaidy misses me, but I don’t want any more tears. Someday when it is time for Moshiach there will be techias hameisim the neshamos will return and the 3rd Beis Hamikdash will be rebuilt. Until then, I want to make sure Abba/Zaidy continues to do all the things he has been doing that made me so proud of him and to have much joy and happiness. The same is with all of you my dearest children and grandchildren who always brought me so much nachas and love to also continue with much joy and happiness. All of my dear family, each has a wonderful shem tov and that includes my son in laws who were like my own sons and my daughter in laws who were like my own daughter’s. Knowing you are keeping my legacy with your love and emunah in H is absolutely wonderful and my neshama shining so bright. Think of these words in Birkas Hamawzon at the end of the benching “Give thanks to H for He is good, for enduring forever is His kindness. You open Your hand, and satisfy every living thing [ with its ]. Blessed is the man who trusts in H; then H will be his security. A youth I have been and also I have aged; but I have not seen a righteous man, forsaken nor his children begging for bread. H strength to His people will give; H will bless His people with peace” * You know how much all of this meant to me and now I know for sure. My blessings to you my entire mishpacha . With all my love, your wife, your Mommy your Bubby”. Since we do not know what H has in store for us, let us be mispallel for all the good things, all the proper things, and have tremendous hope and emunah just as she did throughout her life and not just believe, but know whatever H does for us, for Klal Yisrael is only for our good. She would be mispallel for maysim tovim for our mishpacha and for Klal Yisrael. It is a zchus to be mesameiach with kindness, goodness and blessings for others as well. She would have a list of those who needed a refuah sheleima, when she recited Tehilim, the blessings she had in mind when she made the dough for challah and when she benched licht when her eyes were covered how she swayed and had so much kavaneh. When she recited the Asher Yartzar, she would hold the “Thank You H for the Miracles You do for me every day! You have the Power to bring refuos” Asher Yaratzar famous chart from the Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation with emmense kavaneh.** She davened with much kavaneh and how important it was to be kind to others and not to speak loshon harah. She was a proponent of achdus and shalom- peace. She always found something good to say- always sought the positive in others. We must remember how important it was to her to be mekadeish H. Though Rav Dovid gave strict instructions not to fast, yet on Yom Kippur she did so. I prepared a bag of water and food if necessary, but she felt whatever will happen, at least for Yom Kippur she will fast and she did with much pride and joy. She built a strong foundation for the mishpacha to continue building on. Her legacy is not just for the mishpacha. She was a role model for Klal Yisrael and one of the holy ones who will help lead the way for the coming of Mashiach. Therefore, we must finally wipe the tears from our eyes and put on a smile just like her radiant smile that was her “signature” of a persona of an erlicha person. That radiant smile would become the signature smile for all of us. Rather than having a heavy heart missing her, have a happy heart knowing where her neshama is. Rather than having any more sadness, have simchas hachyim as she had not just once in awhile, but all the time. Perhaps as Abba/Zaidy would tell others, in case of any sadness, take a feather and tickle yourself. Make sure to do so in front of a mirror so you could both have a laugh. These are messages that can be applied to Klal Yisrael.
I would like to share with you from Rabbi Frand on the Parsha by Rabbi Yissocher Frand Artscroll Series. Published by Mesorah Publications Ltd Parshas Bechukosai “A Vessel Called Peace” (pages 190-191). “H promises things will go well as long as the Jewish people follow His decrees. The land will be fertile, and the crops will be plentiful. Then He adds,”And I will make peace in the land.” Rashi quotes from the Toras Kohanim, “ You might say, ‘We have what to eat, and we have what to drink. But if there is no peace, there is nothing.’ Therefore, the Torah adds, ‘And I will make peace in the land” From here we see that peace is worth as much as everything else combined. Peace is the greatest blessing for a family, a community or a nation. Any other blessings we may enjoy turn to ashes in our mouths if we are embroiled in conflict. This is the message of the concluding mishneh in the Talmud(Uktzin 3:12), “The Holy One, Blessed is He found no vessel to contain the blessings for the Jewish people other than peace.” The Ksav Sofer explains that jealousy is the most common destroyer of peace. The Ksav Sofer explains that jealousy is the most common destroyer of peace. People who are dissatisfied with their own lot cannot bear to see others enjoying privileges they feel should have been theirs. And they will most likely not take this perceived injustice lying down. They will fight and struggle with those whom they envy and undercut them at every step of the way as longas there is an imbalance. And there goes peace. The person who breaks the peace is consumed with jealousy and is never happy. He cannot enjoy those blessings he already has. Clearly, all blessings are worthless unless they are contained in this vessel called peace. In 1980, Rav Yaakov Kamenetsky traveled to the Knessiah Gedolah of Agudath Israel in Jerusale. At that particular time, he was feeling weak and incapable of making the trip; in fact, he was so weak that he left word that if he were to pass away in Eretz Yisrael he wanted to be buried there. Nonetheless, he succumbed to pressure and went. Because of his physical condition, Rav Yaakov did not travel or give shiurim while in Eretz Yisrael. But he did insist on visiting Yeshivas Kol Yaakov. Rav Yaakov was taken to this yeshiva, and when he got up to speak, he began to cry. “All my life I wanted to greet Mashiach. I now feel that I won’t have this merit. I don’t feel I’ll live much longer. But if I can’t greet Mashiach myself, at least I want to be among a group of people that will undoubtedly be among a group of people that will undoubtedly be among those who greet Mashiach. I know that this yeshiva will be among those that greet him.” What was so special about this yeshiva? This yeshiva made peace between Ashkenazim and Sephardim, with both communities more or less equally represented in the student body. It was a yeshiva that produced that precious commodity called peace.
To all of my readers, I thank you for having joined me all these months in my journey through my lens. I am grateful to the Ribono Shel Olam for permitting me to have shared the essence of emunah, of hope, of betachim, to be mekadeish H, the importance of caring for others and enhancing relationships filled with kindness, and shalom. My wife was spectacular in all she did. It is difficult to believe 12 months have passed since she was nifteres. That is all the more reason to not wait any longer getting back on track and moving ahead in life. To one and all, may it be possible should you have any challenges in life to be able to meet those challenges head on or to be able to help those who need to move on. The clock is ticking, Time fly’s. Make every moment meaningful. Never forget how much H loves you. There is a famous line found at the end of a wedding video “This is not the end- it is only the beginning”. There is so much to live for. There is so much to look forward to. We don’t calculate how many months or years, but rather the quality of every moment of life. Rather than saying I had only 27 years with my wife, I look back and thank H for every day, every month, every year and every moment we had together and with the mishpachah. It is now time for a new chapter in life. I say this with firm conviction and meaning to those with similar loss, and to those who offer chizuk to others. One must find the golden opportunities to begin anew. Nothing that happened in the past disappears or vanishes. But even if the memories are precious, so too will each and every new moment as time goes on will begin with new and wonderful memories. Every moment that passes becomes a memory, For some unfortunately, get stuck in those memories and find it difficult to move on. For most however, life goes on. Nothing is perfect in this world. We all have our ups and our downs, but how we lift ourselves up when things are not perfect and can go on from there is up to the abilities of each person and of course with the help of H. How should we feel? I hope this example will hit the spot. A person is at the dinner table having a drink of water. The water is good and helps the food go down. Was the drink of water good. Of course, but it is but just one part of the meal. Now how about a drink of water after a walk on a hot day. That water will be even more appreciated and enjoyed. That is how much we should appreciate all of H’s kindness and goodness He gives us.
If I could be a source of comfort, a source of chizuk to anyone, please feel free to contact me. I take pride in my rich and rewarding resume which I attribute to the support of my wife and most of all to the Ribono Shel Olam. Wishing everyone a wonderful summer. I hopefully will still be writing my articles. I have been asked what are my plans for the summer. I am looking forward to enjoying the summer whatever I will be doing. May H watch over Klal Yisrael and may the days leading up to Tisha B Av turn into days of happiness and Tisha B Av a Yom Tov. May we be zoche the coming of Moshiach Tzedkeinu Bemheira Veyawmeinu Amein May we only hear and share maysim tomb and besuos tovos. Sincerely. Rabbi Yehuda Blank * Translation found in their Artscroll Interlinear Siddurim and Birkas Hamazon. Mesorah Publications Ltd ** The Thank You H for the miracles You do for me every day ! You have the power to bring refuos. Is available from the Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation The Zichron Yaakov Tzvi Center for the Teachings of the Chofetz Chaim of which my wife’s name can be found on the bottom of the chart. To order call 845-352-3505
Here are two articles, one from Agudath Israel. One about possible changes in health care proxy law and a article from Mount Sinai Hospital Medical Center New York City saving a 104 woman’s life and giving her months of life to enjoy and “shep nachas” at a granddaughter wedding at 105 years of age.
Agudath Israel Opposes Change in New York Health Care Proxy Law
Under current New York law, a health care agent (someone appointed by an individual to make health care decisions for that person should he or she become incapable of making their own health care decisions) does not have the legal authority to order that nutrition and hydration withdrawn from a patient unless they know or are reasonably certain that this is something the patient would have wanted. However, there is a new bill, S. 4967/ A. 2634, which would give health care agents the authority to make decisions to withdraw nutrition and hydration from a patient, which would result in that patient dying of starvation and dehydration, in the total absence of knowing whether the patient would in fact have wanted this.
Agudath Israel has circulated a legislative memo opposing this change. The Agudah’s memo states that food and water are basic human needs and should not be withdrawn from patients, and that death by dehydration and starvation is one of the most painful ways for a human being to die. To allow a health care agent to order such a death for an incapacitated and helpless patient who can no longer speak for themselves, without any evidence whatsoever that the patient would desire such a death, is morally unconscionable. Furthermore, the memo states that “our Jewish tradition places a premium on the value and sanctity of life, and every moment a life can be prolonged is precious.”
In addition, the memo references a similar amendment proposed to a different law which was passed a number of years ago, that governs what authority health care surrogates should have. (A surrogate is someone designated by law to make health care decisions for a patient who is incapacitated and cannot make health care decisions for themselves, where the patient did not appoint a health care agent.) That amendment also sought to change the law to enable surrogates to withhold nutrition and hydration from a patient and Agudath Israel strongly opposed it at that time. The Agudah memo states that just as that previous amendment was morally a terrible mistake, so too would be giving health care agents the authority to withdraw nutrition and hydration from patients without knowing what the patient would have wanted. The Agudah urged members of the State Legislature to vote against the bill.
June 1, 2021 from Mount Sinai Hospital New York City.
Instead of Hospice, She Has Heart Surgery at Age 104 and Attends a Wedding at 105
When Shirley Farca was told by a New Jersey hospital where her 104 year old mother had been admitted for heart failure that there was nothing they could do in the early summer of 2020, and she should consider hospice, Shirley thought perhaps that was a good idea. Her mom would get medications to keep her comfortable and be seen by a team of providers, But her son was not on the same page. He told his mother he was going to call a physician and some trusted Rabbis and would get back to her. That same day, he arranged for an ambulance to take his grandmother to Mount Sinai Hospital. At Mount Sinai, Samin Sharma, MD , Director of Clinical and Interventional Cardiology, and President of Mount Sinai Heart Network performed a Transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR), a minimally invasive procedure to replace a narrowed aortic valve that fails to open properly on her mother, She did so well, she was discharged two days later. This technique of TAVR is a real game changer,” says Dr. Sharma. “It provides hope to many patients suffering from aortic stenosis who cannot undergo open heart surgery due to frailty, old age, and associated medical conditions.” Shirley credits the physicians at Mount Sinai Hospital for her mom’s return to health as well as Rabbi Menachem Horowitz, who works in spiritual care at Mount Sinai and is a consultant to numerous Manhattan hospitals through Chayim Aruchim a project of Agudas Yisroel of America. Indeed after turning 105 years old, her mom attended her grandaughter’s wedding.
An understanding of Ohel’s Mental Health Services
Ohel and RAA invite you to join us for a virtual discussion about Ohel’s Mental Health services.
June 15, 2021
at 8:00 PM
Introductory Remarks By:
Rabbi Leonard (Yehuda) Blank, MS, BCC
Director of Programing, Chaplaincy Commission & External Affairs
Steven (Tzvi) Wesson, LCSW, Assistant Director Ohel
|Today, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) releases an cybersecurity advisory, “DarkSide Ransomware: Best Practices for Preventing Business Disruption from Ransomware Attacks.” CISA and FBI are urging critical infrastructure asset owners and operators to adopt a heightened state of awareness and implement the recommendations listed in this advisory.
Recently, DarkSide actors deployed DarkSide ransomware against a U.S. pipeline company’s information technology (IT) network. In response to the cyberattack, the company proactively disconnected certain operational technology (OT) systems to ensure the safety of the system. At this time, there are no indications that the threat actor moved laterally to OT systems.
This joint advisory provides technical details on DarkSide actors and some of their known tactics and preferred targets. According to open-source reporting, DarkSide actors have been targeting multiple large, high-revenue organizations. Also, the actors have previously been observed gaining initial access through phishing, exploiting remotely accessible accounts and systems and virtual desktop infrastructure.
CISA and FBI strongly recommend that critical system owners and operators prioritize reading this advisory and follow recommended mitigation and guidance to help protect against this malicious activity. In addition to the cybersecurity advisory, CISA and FBI urge critical infrastructure asset owners and operators to review the following resources for best practices on strengthening cybersecurity posture:
Victims of ransomware should report it immediately to CISA, a local FBI Field Office, or a Secret Service Field Office.