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
September 2, 2021

15 months have passed = Personal reflections = Rosh HaShanah the New Year

My last article of this year 5781. Looking back at so many challenges, changes, difficulties, sadness, happiness, joy and meaning of life. Those who celebrate the secular New Year, have a count down until the Times Square ball comes down, symbolically the old is out and the new is in. For many there are the parties, the celebrations, horns blowing, and shouting happy new year. How different do we celebrate, or I should say bring in the New Year. The only horn blowing is the Shofar. O Holy One, my tears I shed from my eyes, praying from my heart for forgiveness, praying to be inscribed in the “good books” for a good and sweet year. Amongst these days, we remember many things that have occurred reminding us how delicate life has been. I have mentioned in the past that H does not want our days to be filled with sadness and tears, but to find happiness, giving kindness to each other, to others and for ourselves. So, if that be the case, why do many things that happen which bring us unhappiness and sadness? We can find multitudes of reasons, but we do not know why G does things that seem to puzzle us. Yes, we are only human. That is often said when we humans do things, we know are not appropriate. H does love us. Of course, He knows we are only human, but we must know He is as we say Shema Yisrael Hear O Israel H is our G the One and only G. “Love of H is one of the two pillars of true Divine Service” (Mesillas Yesharim 19) “ From there you will seek H, your G, and you will find Him, if you search for Him with all your heart and all your soul”. ( Devarim 4:29)

Rabbanim, Rebbitzens, Chaplains, must have big and strong shoulders to carry the weight of all the difficulties, the hardships, the challenging times of those who truly believe in H, but in times of need, when understanding, care and help is needed, it is sometimes difficult to have and keep ones emunah, faith strong and steadfast. I personally have shared for over a year my own challenging times. I shared my own trials and tribulations sometimes with uncertainly, but I wanted to seek the truth, I wanted to understand, I wanted to accept true faith. Boruch H, I can look back as one who has climbed a tall hill and to look down of how far I have come. Life can never be the same, but life can be beautiful with new, wonderful, and remarkable beginnings. If we did not have a positive attitude filled with hope and faith, then why request brachos from rabbanim. Even rabbanim seek brachos from their mentors and other great rabbanim. I am grateful to the Ribono Shel Olam for all His kindness. To have the desire to be successful. To overcome moments of difficult. Finding opportunities of meaning of life and to be able to persevere. For having dear family, friends, colleagues, esteemed rabbanim, and others. I am proud to have meaningful and professional relationships with the leadership of other organizations and agencies.

At my grandnephews wedding this past Sunday evening, I was experiencing lot’s of simcha. After the chupah, I met a woman who asked if I remembered her. She remembered my wife (A”H) and was hoping to meet her to invite us to her and her husband’s home for a Shabbos. She was so full of smiles – what was I going to say? I have had such an experience when telling someone my wife was nifteres would not be a good choice at that time. So, I was not going to tell this woman the same. However, where was my wife for her to say hello? I tried to evade, but to no avail. I tried to give a nice response like she is away, but where? Can’t say on vacation. Could have said, she was unable to attend. But maybe she did attend the chupah together with the Chasan’s grandparents A”H and great grandparents A”H (my parents and sister and brother-in-law) Anyways, it came out. I shared how much we enjoyed the Shabbos when we were by her some years ago. She wished me well and thanked me. Then later that evening, I received other people’s blessings to have simchas for myself as well as the family. Going from one situation of brief moments of feeling melancholy to feelings of hope after receiving kind words and blessings for the New Year. It is now 15 months since my wife was nifteres. Her legacy and mesorah continues through the entire Brady Bunch plus one and all the grandchildren and great grandchildren. For me her legacy is my continuing all that is related to Torah, Avoda, Gemilus Chasadim, maysim tovim, happiness, simchas hachayim and a meaningful, positive life to go on as she wished. The entire family and I wish the same for Klal Yisrael especially for all those who have gone through difficult times to have a wonderful year 5782. Everyone should be mispallel and have in mind for all who need a refuah, shiduchim, parnasah, hatzlacha, simchas hachayim, participating in many simchas and maysim tovim.

Nothing comes by without the guidance of the Ribono Shel Olam. Nothing happens without His making anything and everything possible. He gives us the bechira to make our decisions, to set our course and direction we want to take, or we hope to take. But there too, we do so with hope, emunah, faith, betachim and the desire for our decision making should be appropriate and with His love for us. Last week in my article, I shared my hakaros hatov to several individuals for what I gained, incorporated, learned from, and carried over to my professional life. Success in addition to the help of the Ribono Shel Olam are those who have been supportive and helpful through the years. Success is not just me, myself, and I. Through those years, there have been many who were extraordinary for their assistance, support, and advice to numerous to mention but who I have been grateful for. Their friendship I truly appreciate.

Rav Dovid in previous years during peril, difficult and challenging times for Klal Yisrael mentioned the tefilah (supplications) of Tachanun recited on Monday and Tuesday’s is a tefila for Klal Yisrael. There are also two personal tefilos found in the weekday Shemone Esrei towards the end of Shema Koleinu for forgiveness and the other personal tefila for livelihood. Many who recite these two, do so at the conclusion of the Shemone Esrei rather than by the Shema Koleinu where names of cholim are often mentioned. Many also add personal bakashos to the Ribono Shel Olam also at this point. O Heilika Tate, who else can I cry to, beseech to from my heart if not to You.

The importance of putting aside ones own personal concerns when giving care to another person. Rav Dovid ztkl was coming out of a hospital after having been together with family -his granddaughter who was nifteres, a truly difficult and sad time for him. Yet, when a person met him as he was leaving the hospital telling them exciting news of the birth of a child, Rav Dovid had smiles, gave his mazel tov and brachos without any expression of remorse. Rav Dovid was full of kindness. Kindness, and appreciation for even the little things in life, let alone what might be considered momentous occasions. “The beginning and the end of the Torah is the performance of loving kindness.” (Sotah 14 a) “In the house of Avraham they were kindhearted”. (Bereishis Rabbah (53) When I was the Director of Pastoral Care and the Rabbi of the Bialystoker Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation there was a Catholic patient who was grateful for our relationship. She gave me a present before she died of a book that was precious to her- 14, 000 Quips and Quotes for writers and speakers by E.C McKenzie, Wing Books Baker Book House Company. I would like to share some of the following quotes. “Kindness makes a fellow feel good whether it’s done to him or by him”. “People will overlook the faults of anyone who is kind”. “Kindness is a warm breeze in a frigid climate, a radiant heat that melts the iceberg of fear, distrust and unhappiness”. “Kindness is a language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see”. “Kindness is the insignia of a loving heart”. “Kindness is like snow it makes everything beautiful.”

Once again, I want to thank all my readers for taking the time to read my articles. I hope you found them of some value and for joining me in my many journeys and reflections, personal and professional. I once again want to thank Rabbi Mendy Mirocznik, Executive Vice President and Hanhalah of the RAA for their support, encouragements for all my past, present and future work on behalf of the RAA with the emphasis on being        Mekadeish H and Achdus.

We recite in the Selichos
Aneinu H Aneinu- Answer us, Answer us. Hu Ya aneinu, may He answer us.
Kesiva Vechasima Tovah / A Shana Tova Umesuka

Sincerely Rabbi Yehuda Blank