Chaplaincy Commission Update / New sefer for Elul by Rabbi Steven Pruzansky / Condolences on the passing of Rabbi Osher Lemel (Oscar) Ehrenreich Zt”l

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  • Chaplaincy Commission Update
  • New Sefer for Elul at 20% Discount
  • Condolences on the passing of Rabbi Osher Lemel (Oscar) Ehrenreich Zt”l

From the desk of Rabbi Leonard (Yehuda) Blank ,MS, BCC
Director of Programming, Chaplaincy Commission and External Affairs
Rabbinical Alliance of America/Igud HaRabbonim
August 5th, 2012 <><><>


HOPE There must be hope, but where and how can we hope to instill hope when a patient is hurting, physically, emotionally, and maybe even spiritually. What about our congregants and yes, ourselves? We are presently between the emotionally and spiritually charged state of remorse of mourning for the destruction of Jerusalem and the Beis Hamikdash, immediately thereafter a state of relief being able to once again celebrate simchas, listen and enjoy music, return to normal everyday activities. Then comes Yom Kippur Katan three days before Rosh Chodesh Elul where we start with renewed introspect of our year long deeds. For Sephardim Selichos begin and eventually for others just three weeks from today followed by the High Holy Days- the Yomim Noraim of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. We beseech HaKodosh Boruch Hu for forgiveness, for His blessings to be inscribed in the “Good Books” In fact, we begin wishing each other a kiseva vichasima tova and a shana tova umesukah. Where is the hope, but more so, where is ones emunah, betachen in the Aibershta to believe there is hope and there can be a future of forgiveness and mazel tov and simon tov.

In many of the Haftaras we learn how even though there are challenges of Klal Yisrael for what they have done against the will of H. Yet, we find comforting words of forgiveness and the continued love from H for Klal Yisrael. The following from the Haftarah of Eikev from Isiah 49:14-51:3 “And Zion said,

“H has forsaken me; my L rd has forgotten me, can a woman forget her nursling, withdraw from feeling compassion for the child of her womb? Even were these to forget, yet I will not forget you.” (And at the last sentences from 51 :1 Listen to me, O pursuers of righteousness, seekers of H; look to the rock from which you were hewn, and to the hollow of the pit from which you were dug. Look to Abraham your forefather and to Sarah who bore you, for when he was yet one alone, did I summon him and bless him and make him many. For H shall comfort Zion, He shall comfort all her ruins, He shall make her wilderness like Eden and her wasteland like a garden of H; joy and gladness shall be found there, thanksgiving and the sound of music.´ “ [ Commentary] { This Haftarah is from the chapter in Isiah that includes the much quoted phrase “light to the nations” the privileged position for which G chose Israel and made it His emissary to humanity. continued. Our (this) Haftarah begins with Zion’s lament that the exile proves that G has abandoned her, that the covenant of Sinai has been abrogated. To this, G responds lovingly and movingly that Zion and Jerusalem will yet adorn themselves with their scattered children. G goes on to say that exile alone does not break the bond between Him and Israel.” ……. continued “So he (Isaiah) pleads with his fellow Jews-his neighbors and those who would not be born for millennia-to remember that they are the children of Abraham and Sarah, and that G will comfort them. The Haftarah ends with one of the great lyrical verses in Scripture, and assurance that the wasteland will turn to Eden and dirge to joyous song.”} (From The Stone Edition Chumash Artscroll Series, Mesorah Publications Ltd pages 194-195).

There are many tefilos which share the love we have for H and the love He has for Klal Yisrael. There are many tefilos for health, refuah, simchas, continued relationship with H or being reunited with H.

“The composer of Yedid Nefesh is R. Eliezer one of the great Kabbalists and halachists of the 16th century in Eretz Yisrael, whose major work was Sefer Charadim. A central theme of his moral and liturgical writings was the intense love one must feel for G. This theme is readily apparent in Yedid Nefesh.”

“Beloved of the soul, Father Who is compassionate, draw Your servant to Your will. May Your servant run a deer to bow toward Your majesty. It will be sweeter to him Your friendship-that the dripping of the honeycomb and all flavors. Majestic One, Pleasant One, Radiance of the Universe! My soul pines for Your love. Please, O G heal it now, by showing it the pleasantness of Your radiance. Then it will be strengthened and be healed, and it will have gladness eternally. Faithful One, may Your mercy please be aroused and take pity, please on Your beloved son. For now, it is a long time that I have yearned intensely to see (speedily) the splendor of Your strength. Be revealed, please, and spread, my Beloved, upon me the shelter of Your peace. Illuminate the world with Your glory, that we may rejoice and be glad with You. Hasten show[ Your] love, for come has the time, and show us grace as in the days of old.

(Artscroll Series Zemiros Mesorah Publications Ltd).

Often, the chaplain and in many cases a rabbi is seen as a shliach a messenger or a representative of G.

We cannot give false hope, but we can share the love and belief in G or as much as a person wishes to share in his or her hope for the present and the future. Little or a lot, healing can be thought in many ways. What is to be healed ? We cannot redo the past, but we can share hope and healing – healing of the heart, healing of body, mind and soul, healing between friends, between spouses and healing between man/woman and G. We pray for many things such as forgiveness, we pray for success, we pray for kindness, we pray for goodness, we pray for children, we pray to have children, we pray for the meeting of ones mate, we pray for a meaningful relationship, we pray for success in our appropriate endeavors, we pray for sustenance , we pray for shalom, we pray not just for ourselves, but we pray for others and each other. It is difficult to feel the warmth of G when in pain, in times of difficult challenges in life, but as chaplains and as rabbis we could be there with a person in the present ,with support, with encouragement, with understanding and most of all with sincerity and truthfulness. If we don’t have the answers, we could at least direct a person in the direction of where he or she can seek and find the help that is needed. What is truly important with sincerity is to have a heart filled with compassion and feelings for the other person. Whenever possible to help a person find solace, meaning and even love in ones own heart. We are truly fortunate to have those prayers, those tefilos that share from our hearts especially with kavaneh what we wish to say to H. But, we could also offer from our hearts and lips our own thoughts and prayers. That too, chaplains can share with a patient the ability to pray from ones heart to G. When someone wishes to purchase a birthday card or an anniversary card for instance, one will find the card with the words that most represents his or her feelings in words that are very striking. The recipient might be dazzled by those flowery, eloquent words with oo’s and ah’s, but the most beautiful words are those spoken from the heart. Yet, the recipient will appreciate the time and effort put into getting the nicest card that says it all. Hope can be expressed both in words and in actions. G shows us the care He has for us often in ways that are not obvious, or in ways we do not understand. Sometimes a chaplain will cry along with a patient and that is ok. Showing emotions is as natural as can be. Even a rabbi can show his feelings. It is not always necessary nor appropriate to have a stiff upper lip.

Through the years, I had the merit of working with diverse age groups. Each with tremendous rewards of self satisfaction making an impact in what I was doing to enhance the quality of life in many different ways. I once asked Rav Dovid Feinstein ztl the merit of out reach kiruv type of programs for the elderly when so many exert efforts from the younger generations through the mature adult age groups. The question was not to discontinue, nor reduce ones sincere efforts on their behalf. His response (to paraphrase) was to give every opportunity bringing as much of a relationship with each person as much as he/she wishes to do so with G/H. Every opportunity for a mitzva goes a long way for that persons neshama. Their lives are just as precious as anyone who is younger. In this our present generation there are many who are quite energetic in their 80’s, 90’s and beyond. Then there are those in the same age group whose medical, physical, and maybe even cognitive strengths are diminished. Yet, everyone deserves the respect, care, and appreciation no matter what their age bracket might be. There is always hope. The following is from “The Power of Hope. The One Essential of Life and Love by Maurice Lamm (Rawson Associates Schibner Simon and Schuster Inc. “A Creed for the Later Years” pages 150- 151)

  • I hope I will always appreciate new thoughts, new ideas, and the life of the mind.
  • I hope I will always take time to listen to the opinions of others.
  • I hope I will not stop exploring the best of everything in a changing world.
  • I hope I will be called wise but not opinionated.
  • I hope I will be considered a person of innate dignity and not a prude.
  • I hope that all I have learned along the way will not go to waste.
  • I hope I will remember when I am slowing down that it wasn’t easy being young.
  • I hope I will like myself a lot-just as I am.
  • I hope my grown children and my grandchildren will be, above all else, my best friends.
  • I hope I am never too old to change-my home, my activities, my priorities, my point of view.
  • I hope I will never call my time limited, but instead realize that it is quality, not quantity, that counts.
  • I hope I can laugh- at least once every day.”

“I Will Take You Through the Darkest Nights-to the Brightest Days-and We Will Defeat Hopelessness Together”.

As chaplains, rabbis and rebbitzens, we can imbue hope, with our compassion, our love, our understanding, our forgiveness. We can bring from darkness to brightness, from hopelessness to hope and a meaningful future in the days and nights ahead. There is so much to live for. We must try our best to bring that light to others -especially in their times of need. There is so much negativity due to the virus, economy, and current events, but most of all from those in leadership expounding the ills of the world, with the threat of doomsday occurring at anytime of the day and or night. The days of old when there was so much controversy who should and who will wear a mask, let alone the controversy of having taken the vaccine or not. Let us have achdus and not Heaven Forbid such controversy leading up to unforgiving lashon harah and possibly sinas chinam. Let us not forget how much H loves Klal Yisrael as we learned from Isiah in the Haftorah mentioned above and the beautiful and meaningful Yedid Nefesh.

Let us enter the month of Elul not of fear, but with hope, simcha, happiness and joy with meaning of life. To have simchas hachayim. We must remember we all need each other. We are but just humble unassuming human beings in the presence of G. Yet, G has given us the abilities of moving mountains caring for others to the best of our abilities. Wherever and however, we can do gemilus chasadim will not only enhance the lives of others but will surely enhance our own lives and our own neshamos.

There are prayers we can have in mind, whether it be for oneself or for others. Perhaps a prayer a chaplain can say with a patient. Here is one personal prayer. One can include the word of healing, of shalom, of simchas etc. Most important is the prayer should be with one’s heart.

I shed tears not of fear, but from my heartfelt prayers that You accept my bakashos, my tefilos, desires to do what is good and for my life to be filled with Your kindness, Your goodness and Your forgiveness for any wrongdoing I might have done. I pray to enter the New Year with Your blessings, to be comforted as with Avraham Avinu and Sarah Imeinu to be inscribed in the Good Books and for Your blessings for my family, for Klal Yisrael and for the coming of Mashiach Bemheiraw Veyawmeinu, amain.“

Thank you. Sincerely Rabbi Yehuda Blank