From the desk of Rabbi Yehuda (Leonard) Blank MS, BCC
Director of Programming, Chaplaincy Commission and External Affairs
Rabbinical Alliance of America/Igud Harabbonim
917- 446- 2126 firstname.lastname@example.org
October 14, 2021
In my neighborhood on Grand Street there are often movies that are being made. While passing the various trucks with all the side doors open, I noticed what appeared to be thousands of pieces of equipment needed for the movie. Also on the sidewalk alongside the location where the movie shots were taking place. It is mind boggling how many large and very small pieces that are needed for perhaps one or a few scenes of a movie. When I worked at the Bialystoker snf, a film company, shot a scene. They filmed in the dinning room and with permission used some of the residents (patients) as part of the scene. The amount of equipment brought into the building and the dining room was amazing. A one-day production and all for a few minutes that would be seen in the film. In fact, the part which was filmed was unbelievable small as compared to the rest of the film. At the end of all films are the credits for the different responsibilities and the names of those who are listed in the credits. Mind you, this is all man (and woman) made. What about the human body made up of thousands and thousands of parts, all running without being plugged into an outlet or attached to batteries. Yet, there are electrical impulses and continuous flow of blood, breathing oxygen and so much more. All under the direction of the Ribono shel Olam. Truly remarkable. Yet if Heaven Forbid one of those thousands of parts stops working or some sort of interference occurs or an attack on the millions of healthy cells, could lead to a disaster effecting the entire body- illness, a stroke, other serious ailments or even death. It is not uncommon for a person who becomes ill to ask why me? Or what is happening to me? This is especially so when speaking to a chaplain or one’s rabbi or rebbitzen. The patient might be seeking answers which a doctor cannot answer. or no one can really answer, but as I have mentioned in previous articles, there is a need to convey some type of hope. Why mention this again? We are entering the season with shorter and maybe colder days and longer nights. Many find these days and nights are more difficult to deal with life in many ways. It is important to give those in their time of need, of uncertainty, what to hold on to- especially those who are ill or having other difficult challenges in life. Showing and giving realistic hope, being sincere, being compassionate, and giving the right blessings/brachos can go along way. Sometimes offering a spontaneous blessing/ prayer can be very helpful or parts of pasukim from Tehilim or Tefilos. I have shared several of those tefilos even from zemiros such as from Yidid Nefes in previous articles. We do not wave a magic wand, nor say abraw kadabraw and one gets cured from difficult challenges of health or other issues. The holy words go along way with heartfelt care for the person one is saying those hopeful words with.
(The following translations from Artscroll Siddurim Mesorah Publications Ltd)
From Mah Tovu “As for me, may my prayer to You H be at a time that is favorable O G in the abundance of Your kindness answer me with the truth of Your salvation.”
From Asher Yawtzar” Blessed are You H Who heals all flesh and is wondrous in His acts”.
From Yevawrechechaw “May H bless you and safeguard you. May H illuminate His countenance for you and be gracious to you, May H turn His countenance to you and establish for you peace”.
From Mizmor Shiur Chanukas Habayis LDovid ‘Hear O H and favor me; H be my Helper! You have transformed my lament into dancing for me, You undid my sackcloth and You girded me with gladness. So that sing to You [might] my soul and not be silenced H my G forever will I thank You.”
From Halleluka Ki Tov “He is the healer of the brokenhearted, and the One Who bandages their sorrows. He counts the number of the stars, to all of them He assigns names. Great is our Lrd and abundant in strength; His understanding is beyond calculation.”
A prayer before an operation or other situations. (From A collections of Psalms for times of illness and distress. Hope and Prayer Chai Lifeline Fighting Illness With Love.)
“Refaweini H veirawfei hoshieini vivawsheiaw ki sehilawsi ataw. Yehi rawtzon milfawnechaw H Elo kai Veilo kei avosai shetishlach li meheiraw refuah sheleimaw min hashawmayim refuas hanefesh urefuas haguf. Bawruch ataw rofei ne eman verachamawn lechawl basar. Beyawdo afkid ruchi beis ishan vawiraw. Vim ruchi keviyawsi H li velo iraw. Heal me H and I will be healed, save me and I will be saved, for You are my praise. May it be Your will H my G and G of my fathers, to send me speedily a complete healing from Heaven, healing for my soul and for my body. Blessed are You faithful and merciful Healer of all flesh. Into His hand I place my soul, both when I sleep and when I wake. And with my soul, my body too, H is with me, I shall not fear.”
From Weekday Shemoneh Esrei Heal Us H then we will be healed; save us then we will be saved, for the One we praise is You. Bring healing that is complete for all our ailments, for O G [and King] Healer Who is faithful and compassionate are You. Blessed are You H Who heals the sick of His people Israel.”
In chaplaincy, there is a wisdom on how to utilize the appropriate prayers or a spontaneous prayer, how to weave with love, with understanding, with compassion, with sincerity and knowledge. H loves us and only wants the best from us. As chaplains, as rabbis and rebbitzens, having an open heart, filled with kindness and goodness is so important. Caring for others, doing gemilus chasadim with a heart of gold. There is so much to be mispallel for. When a patient, a congregant, an acquaintance, a friend, a relative anyone who seeks the advice, the blessings the guidance from the chaplain, the rabbi or the rebbitzen is an awesome responsibility. It can lead someone to a meaningful life, can lessen their burden, their anxiety, their fears, their loneliness, and so much more, with the right words, the caring words, words from our hearts. What does He want from us? To be sincere, caring, doing chesed, not speaking loshon harah which can be destructive and harmful. To be Mekadeish H. To be understanding of others and as helpful as possible. We have to be mindful when offering a prayer to someone who has chronic pain and illness, to a person whose illness is limiting or end of life. The person might have an illness with no cure in sight or fearful for what the future might bring him/her. Chaplains and many rabbis are knowledgeable as to what bracha or spontaneous prayer is appropriate to the situation.
The Mashgiach of MTJ Yeshiva, Beis Medrash and Kollel Rav Chaim Ganzweig at his weekly Wednesday Sichas Mussar yesterday included in his comments about brachos. H gave Adam Hawrishon, the ability for giving brachos to be mekayeim. He then gave it to Avraham Avinu and eventually to Klal Yisrael. Rav Ganzweig shared from Michtav Eliyahu, and other sources the essence of brachos, to be ribui who could be mevarech. It is very special when a tzadik or tzedeikes gives a bracha. Though any Yid could give a bracha it is up to the Ribono shel Olam to decide who He will respond to their brachos. Years ago, when I was a talmid of Rav Eliyahu Moshe Shisgal ztl who was a son in law of Rav Moshe Feinstein ztl. He asked me for a bracha as he was not well. Rav Shisgal felt that any Yid could give a bracha, especially a talmid. We do not know the mechanics of the Ribono shel Olam. We do not know what formula works nor which brachos He will choose to work. Perhaps it was the tzedakah one gave, his or her gemilus chasadim, kind deeds, kindness, goodness, even a smile and a sincere hello. Rav Ganzweig mentioned that this past Tuesday was Rebbitzen Shima Feinstein’s A”H yartzeit. She was Rav Moshe’s Rebbitzen. She gave brachos from her leiv with such sincerity. Many of her brachos were mekayeim. It was special seeing the wonderful relationship between the Rebbitzen, Rav Moshe, and mishpacha and being in their presence. That is for another article someday.
There is so much “falshkeit” in the world. We live by being emesdik, truthful and sincere with “erlichkeit”. We have a mesorah from Avraham Avinu and how he dealt with the Melech of Sedom and also his nephew Lot who he still cared for and fought for his freedom despite of his lifestyle. From the weekday Shemoneh Esrei- Ataw Chonein Leawdawm Da as” You graciously endow man with wisdom and teach to a [frail], mortal insight. Endow us graciously from Yourself [with] wisdom, insight, and discernment. Blessed are You H gracious giver of wisdom”. We are mispallel to have the wisdom and our love for H, our fellow Yiddim, and for being caring with much kindness and goodness to others should come from our hearts.
In one of my discussions with my Oorah Torah Mate and a good friend of his who has often joined us for discussions, spoke about Avraham Avinu and Sarah Imeinu’s kindness, goodness, doing good deeds and love of H amongst all of their other attributes. I shared how anyone can follow such traits as theirs. He and his friend said you (meaning me) is such a person who does good, is holy, gives blessings, cares for others etc. I shared with him how they too can have such wonderful traits and find favor in the eyes of G. I mentioned the many things they do believe in H such as the requests they give me to pray for them. and a relative and the many other things I have found to be positive. How my Torah Mate does so many kind things taking care of his sister and willing to make the blessings on the various foods I bring them for Shabbos- saying those precious blessings which is not only for their sake, but their kindness for me, both of us sharing what brings happiness to G and to each other.
May we all be zoche to be the ambassadors of H bringing brachos to Klal Yisrael for Shalom al Yisrael and to help bring Moshiach sooner than later. May we be zoche to continue to inspire our love of H, our love of Yiddishkeit, our love for Klal Yisrael. May we be zoche to share besuos tovos, to have our brachos mekayeim for much happiness, simchas, a refuah sheleima for those who are not well, a shiduch for all those who are mispallel to find their zivuk, for parnasa, simchas hachayim, much joy and a meaningful life. May these brachos be mekayeim for ourselves and our mishpacha as well.
Thank you. Respectfully and Sincerely, Rabbi Yehuda Blank