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
October 21, 2021 <><><>


If my calculations are correct, October 29th will be 17 months since my wife Keila Lutza bas Shalom Hakohein A”H was nifteres. This is a follow-up for all those who have been curious of how life has been since the last inclusion in many of my articles. I decided to put to rest (no pun intended) after more than a year of sharing life’s challenges and yes, goodness the months prior to her passing and the months following her petira. I used the word passing. The word death for some is difficult to say or even think of which is understandable. She will never be forgotten, as the family- the children, grandchildren, relatives, and others continue to keep her mesorah in many loving and meaningful ways. For me, has anything changed? I still speak to the Ribono shel Olam, mispallel with my heart, and share my inner thoughts, feelings, questions, and concerns knowing He knows what is best.I enjoy my Torah learning, the Daf Yomi, attending shiurim and learning in the Yeshiva MTJ with the Rosh Hayeshiva Rav Berel Feinstein, listening to the Sichas Mussar of the Mashgiach Rav Ganzweig , davening in the Bialystoker a shul with a wonderful Rav Zvi Romm and mispallim, attending simchas, doing gemilus chasadim and listening to music (amongst other good things)What kind of music? Well in addition to traditional Jewish music, I have always enjoyed classical music. Being thankful for my wonderful relatives, friends, and fellow human beings I meet every day. All that I have been doing for the RAA and so much more. There is much to be thankful to the Ribono shel Olam for. My love of the Aibershta , my simchas hachayim, to know the sun is shining bright even when there are clouds in the sky and the brightness of the moon even in the darkest of nights remains strong. Every day one can find new founded enjoyment and appreciation of life. One can learn for instance gemara and constantly find new meanings as there are questions to ponder. Time goes on and life goes on, but caring for others, being mekayeim mitzvos, looking forward with a positive, cheerful attitude and appreciation, is so important. Life is like a bowl of cherries. The fruit is delicious, the pits do not prevent the enjoyment the fruit brings. My wife who is in Gan Eiden in Hawolam Habaw with all the holy and precious neshamos wanted all of her mishpacha to continue with happiness and a meaningful life filled with kedusha, emunah, hope, caring for others as she did. We learn in the Torah about our Avos and Imawhos reminding us how our lives should be, our relationship to the Aibershta, and to those who we love and mean so much to us.

Months ago, when I received an invitation for a simcha addressed just to me, was not easy to accept and the loneliness would be felt. What enjoyment would there be going myself? My desire to attend was low in spirits. Since then. Boruch H, I look forward to attending simchas whenever possible. Rather than looking back, I look forward. What about those late hours at night and it is past telephone time? Though I have adjusted through the past 17 months, there are times of loneliness. I will find those activities that are soothing, and comforting such as learning, reading, listening to music (no music of course Friday night- however, I might sing a song or two. I don’t need a shower to sing and not too loud. Wouldn’t want to disturb the neighbors) and yes, most of all speaking to H. That gives me even more desire to be kind to others and whenever possible to bring to those who are alone simchas hachayim. Looking forward to the next day and opportunities of chesed and maysim tovim. Remembering that I am never alone but in the presence of the Ribono shel Olam. I do want to point out that I do not equate times of feeling lonely with feeling sad. I have had comments made to me even recently about how sorry they are and how difficult it must be after having been married to lose a spouse and to be alone. It has been a challenge, but as I mentioned above, I have Boruch H adjusted and truly look forward to finding happiness each day and the days ahead. Having an extra boost of emunah goes a long way for maysim tovim. Feelings of sadness can by anyone for a million reasons. We all must find ways and opportunities of uplifting one’s spirits.

So, what about my conversations with H. I want to share with you the following from ‘Out of the Box Never Alone by Rabbi Yaakov Salomon (From the Flatbush Jewish Journal newspaper October 14, 2021, page 6) “Full disclosure. If you happen to see me talking to myself, do not panic. Salomon has not (yet) lost his marbles. I am, frankly, talking to H. About what? Just about everything. My fears, my thanks, my requests, my questions, my transgressions, my dreams- you name it. Let’s be honest. The world, as we know it, has pretty much gone mad. More and more of us are moving closer to the Pre-Moshiach reality, that there is no one and nothing that we can trust and rely on, for comfort answers, hope, or success besides Hakadosh Boruch Hu (Sota 49a-b). Don’t wait for Shemonah Esrei. Bring Him into your daily life. Converse with Him. Cry to Him. Make Him real. Because He is “. · Rabbi Yaakov Salomon, LCSW is a noted psychotherapist, in private practice in Brooklyn, N.Y. and Lakewood, N.J. for over 35 years. He served as a Senior Lecturer and the Creative Director of Aish Hatorah’s Discovery Productions. He is also an editor and author for the Artscroll Publishing Series’ and the Artscroll Mishna Series and the featured “Out of the Box” in the FJJ). Of course, Tefilla is a truly special way to converse to H our Father in Heaven, but He fully understands our most private Bakashos even if we seem to be talking to ourselves.

From The Power of Hope The One Essential of Life and Love by Maurice Lamm Rawson Associates Scribner Simon & Schuster Copyright by Rabbi Maurice Lamm

“Hope is natural. We all possess it.                                                                                                                                     It needs only to be uncovered, not discovered” (page 23)

In his discussion about developing a relationship with G, the importance and meaning of kavanah, asking for forgiveness, and acknowledging anything we want, or need is dependent in G. “When you are doing this, you are saying, : G You are the one who can change my life. Now help me. This is a profound tribute, and the results can be astonishing. Say the following every morning, say it at night:

  • I know You care and I trust You.
  • I will try to be the person You want me to be.
  • I will work at growing closer to You.
  • I love You, I hope You love me.
  • will return Your kindness.

A spiritual connection with G is not a beeper signal that starts and then stops. It is a bonding, a mystical union you are striving for. When you have achieved it, you will find that, wondrously, to goes two ways- it is a getting that is giving, a giving that is getting. The two actions are actually a part of the same process.” (Page 49)
(What we can give is doing meaningful, wonderful maysim tovim, gemilus chasadim etc.)

“Conquering the Fear of Hope”                                                                                                                                   Keep this list near you at all times. You might tack it to the bulletin board or tuck it into a corner of your mirror. Take it to heart. Do as it says. It can move you in the right direction.

  • I am the hero of my own life story-I will behave like one.
  • I won’t dwell upon the past; the past is over.
  • I will be the one. the only one, in charge of my future.
  • I will be patient- nothing happens all at once- but not passive.
  • I will trust in a Higher Power to help me along the way.
  • And -I will trust myself.” (Page 52)

“Look at the barriers you encounter only as navigation problems. They are not dead ends, but merely detours on the road to where you want to go.’ (Page 87).

“Hopes Are No More Than Waking Dreams:
Seven Ways to Make Them Come True”

  • Don’t look for the approval of everything you do- you won’t get it.
  • Do, however, try to see yourself as others see you.
  • Change your inner dialogue from What’s in it for me? to How Can I help?
  • Learn from the past, set your sights on the future-but don’t forget to live in the present.
  • Don’t constantly judge people.
  • Don’t look at the world around you for answers- look inside yourself instead.
  • Put love in your life where fear used to be” (page 141)

Psalms 30 11-12 “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.” (Translation Artscroll Tehilim Mesorah Publications).

“May they find favor the expressions of my mouth and the thoughts of my heart-before You H my Rock and my redeemer.” (Translation from Yiheyu Lerawtzon at the end of Shemoneh Esrei. Artscroll Siddur Mesorah Publications Ltd).

May we all be zoche to find happiness and simchas hachayim, be able to do maysim tovim and to feel good that we could speak to H all the time.

Thank you. Respectfully and sincerely, Rabbi Yehuda Blank