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 rablenblank@gmail
September 15,2021 *****

These days of Aseres Yemei Teshuva are filled with our inner most feelings beseeching the Ribono shel Olam not just for forgiveness, but our bakashos. With our tears, our spirit, our heartfelt love for the Ribono shel Olam, with hope, emunah, faith and betachin for good health, for refuah, for shiduchim, for children, for nachas from our children and so much more. There are Boruch H organizations and medical specialists helping women to conceive and give birth to children they never thought would be possible. There are wonderful shadchanim, as well as close friends and acquaintances who help make remarkable shiduchim. There are older men and women, divorced men and women, widows and widowers, men and women with medical and physical challenges who are finding shiduchim leading up to beautiful marriages one might say “made in heaven” with much joy and happiness. There are Boruch H wonderful specialists of diverse disciplines helping children live meaningful lives. A person might have doubts about certain situations which can possibly turn out to be truly special and wonderful. The rabbi, the rebbitzen, the chaplain can be a meaningful shaliach of H. Encouraging , supporting, helping to convey and instill self confidence. To share how valuable that persons self-worth is and that anything is possible. If the Aibershta wants the person to marry, then he/ she will find the zivuk. It is all up to the Ribono shel Olam. The question might be does a person do his/her own shtadis by seeking ones zivuk or first waiting for the Ribono shel Olam to send the right signals and then do his/her shadlis ?. Rabbi Dr. Twersky mentioned there is always hope. “Hope is the polar opposite of despair. Of course there has to be realistic expectations”. A person should not depend on miracles but be mispallel for His direction and help. On the first day of Rosh Hashana the Torah reading Sara Imeinu could not believe she could have a child at her age, but the Ribono shel Olam showed otherwise. Rabbonim, rebbitzens and chaplains play a vital and important role the care given to their mispallim and their patients . The rebbitzen is an integral part of the shul organization and wipes away stigma of a woman being an excellent support of her husband the rabbi. There are many women members of the shul, feeling comfortable discussing certain private or confidential issues with the rebbitzen. The rebbitzen often has a respectable rapport with the female members of the shul and community.

I want to mention once again how important it is to seek the guidance of a mental health professional when dealing with the feelings and emotions of an individual who might be going through difficult times in his/ her personal life. There is no same size that fits all. Giving information which might seem innocent, kind hearted and meaningful, for an individual going through personal challenges in his/her life, might prove to be harmful. What might be wonderful for one person, can be disastrous for another.

In several of my articles including this one, I mentioned the aspirations of an older person. What is the age of someone who is older? What constitutes an older person? The AARP organization includes in their membership anyone from 50 years and older. I am therefore considering from that age on in my article below. I would like to share with you some aspects of hope for the older person. From the book The Power of Hope. The One Essential of Life and Love by Maurice Lamm Rawson Associates Scribner Simon & Schuster Inc. (pages 140,149,150,153,154)

”For the past thirty years biofeedback has been in use to help us to understand why we behave the way we do. This knowledge is power. Psychologists believe that this awareness of our inner behavior patterns helps us to control them. The same is true of hope. Repeating anything continuously, without thinking about it-even a hope- is like knitting while watching television: We are concentrating on the screen, not the knitting. We are not consciously, hoping when we dull our hopes by thoughtless repetition. Maybe that is why we fail to recognize that , as we grow older, hopes don’t die( or they shouldn’t) but they change( and they should). If you are young as you are reading this, stop and think for a moment of the hopes and dreams that still seem to lie so far ahead. If you are no longer young, the time may have come for you to seize them-they are your passport to the future. But no matter your age, you must have hopes. Sometimes they may sound like new verses to an old melody-that doesn’t matter. The song is still playing for you. Here are a few hopes you may acquire as time goes by; take them and hold them close for the rest of your life.

A Creed for the Later Years

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 its quality, not its quantity, that counts.
I hope I can laugh-at least once (every day)”.

The Ribono shel Olam gives us the gift of life. He knows what is in our hearts, our minds, our desires, our beliefs, what we truly want from our lives. He knows our inner most thoughts. The Mashgiach Ruchni of MTJ Rav Chaim Ganzweig mentioned in one of his sichas mussar the importance of remembering we are always in the presence of the Ribono shel Olam and to think of Him as often as possible. The Yetzer Hara can be very convincing in what direction to take. With the Ribono shel Olam’s guidance we hope to make the right decisions in life and to remember our abilities to help ourselves, each other and Klal Yisrael- no matter what our age might be. Though it is important to be humble, it is also important to have self pride in the avodas H we do and the tremendous zchus of being a sheliach of H, helping to guide others as best as possible.

I mentioned last week I would write about 9/11 which I have done so in previous articles.
At that time I was called back to active duty as chaplain with the NYPD. It was an honor and I was proud to have returned to police chaplaincy offering spiritual and pastoral care to police, their family members ,first responders as well as civilians on 9/11 and for days thereafter. What struck me was the immense patriotism seen and felt throughout NYC and beyond. The USA flag could be seen all over including from almost every vehicle ,apartment and store windows. There were volunteer clergy, chaplains, Red Cross and just plain civilians who could be seen in many locations wanting to be of assistance. Pictures and contact information of relatives, loved ones, friends and others were plastered throughout the city hoping someone would have information. Hatzolah vehicles were destroyed with some of the members injured, but none Boruch H were killed. They were first responders. Personal documents were scattered all over some finding their way even to Brooklyn. Being at Ground Zero, witnessing the destruction, seeing the flames still burning, the smoke and the destroyed pieces of the World Trade Center and surrounding buildings even after 9/11 was a sight to be seen and immense and difficult to comprehend. It was amazing to see hundreds of emergency vehicles from throughout the New York area lined up from near Ground Zero all the ways back to Chelsy Piers waiting with their emergency personnel.

May we all be zoche to have a gemar chasima tova, simchas hachayim, good health, happiness, to be able to inspire others, to share in many simchas, to be a conduit for making simchas, to be mekadeish H with achdus. May our words inspire others to be mispallel for those in their times of need and for maysim tovim.

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

“May you answer today all those who place their hope in You, for our eyes are lifted to You Redeem us from trouble and hardship, and raise us from the pit that is deep.” (Selichos)

Thank you. Sincerely, Rabbi Yehuda Blank
Gemar Chasima Tova.