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
November 25th, 2021 ***
Purpose of Creation- for H’s Honor?
The gadlus of a Yiddisha Mother- My Mother
Where are we headed, what can we say and to whom can we turn?
Rabbi David Keehn ztl- We miss you!
It just doesn’t seem to make any sense. I walked into one of my local pharmacies to purchase some items, and I was taken how row after row items are now behind locked glass doors. Next to those doors are electronic call buttons for a store employee to come and open the doors. There are now guards standing by the main doors with employees standing around the store as lookouts. Lookouts for whom. In just the past few weeks including this week there have been major thefts in various parts of our Country. In one case eighty individuals ransacked a major store stealing whatever they could. There is a fear people have that anyone can walk into a store, take what they want and leave with impunity of being arrested. I am not going to discuss the other concerns our citizenry has. One just has to listen to the news media. I will not discuss politics or my own thoughts of what is happening and why. Yet, amongst the many concerns Americans are facing, there are many who are law abiding citizens from all walks of life. There are police officers who do care about the men, women, and children they hope to protect and defend to the best of their abilities. I often will stop to say hello and thank police officers for what they do. Their response has been thanking me for my support.
Another act of Kiddush H this time by students of Fasman Yeshiva High School in Skokie, Il. who gathered money that appears to have fallen from an armored truck. They contacted the local police and gave them all the money they found. What they did was shared on Skokie news media.
With all the other terrible news happening throughout the USA and unfortunately in Israel, there is still much to be thankful for. Many would say we are living in a preMoshiach time. Where are we headed, what can we say and to whom can we turn to? H of course. We know how much Torah, Avodah and Gemilus Chasadim means to us. We turn to the Ribono shel Olam. The chinuch, the education being taught and conveyed in yeshivos, Bais Yaakov’s and the chizuk given by rabbonim and rebbitzens are so vital especially during these challenging times. Being Mekadeish H is especially important. Knowing how to be Mekadeish H is essential. We recently lost a tremendous ambassador of Klal Yisrael who was Mekadeish H in many ways -Rabbi David Keehn ztl. He was not only a par excellent healthcare chaplain, he was also a remarkable representative of the Jewish community in his various positions he held. He showed and he taught through his various capacities what it means to be a G fearing Jew who loved his fellow Jew. He was a kind and caring human being who cared for all no matter what their background was. He touched the lives of so many and had a tremendous impact throughout New York. There will be additional comments in another article with quotes from colleagues about Rabbi David Keehn. We miss you!!!
The following is excerpted from Q & A asked to Rav Chaim Mintz Mashgiach of Yeshiva of Staten Island and Manhig Ruchni of Oorah quoted from the Yated Ne’eman November 5, 2021, page 73. Ask The Rabbi written by Rabbi Shmuel Zitter. Purpose of Creation-for H’s Honor? Q The last Mishnah in Pirkei Avos states that everything in the world was created for H’s honor. We also know that our entire purpose in this world is to serve H. That sounds so selfish, as if G created the world entirely for His own benefit. A This question is based on a fundamental mistake. H is the epitome of perfection and completely self-sufficient. He does not need anything from anyone, and He doesn’t gain anything from our service and honor. Everything we do in this world to serve and honor Him is purely for our benefit. As the Mesilas Yeshorim writes at the very beginning of his classical work, H created us so we can be close to Him. He is the Source of all enjoyment, and closeness to Him is the greatest pleasure attainable. The ultimate place to connect to H is in the World to Come, while this world was created as a place where we can earn this great reward. By perfecting our character and performing mitzvos in This World, we become worthy of reaping the fruit of our labor and meriting eternal reward in the World to Come. In his sefer Daas Tevunos, the Ramchal adds that the reason H did not just place us directly in the World to Come is because we would have felt the shame of someone receiving a handout. It is only through earning this closeness that we can experience the optimum pleasure of the World to Come. Thus, when we honor and serve H, it is we who gain. The more we recognize Him and are able to get close to Him, the more we can connect to Him for eternity. This is the correct way to understand why we were created to serve H, and why everything in This World was created to bring Him honor. The better we serve H and the more we bring honor to His name, the more we are able to recognize His greatness. This helps us elevate ourselves and become closer to H, making us worthy of enjoying the great pleasure that is in store for us. Furthermore, every mitzva we perform infuses us with the level of holiness, by taking the physical world and using it for H’s honor, we transport H’s light into the world, and connect to Him on a deeper level. For example, by using delicacies to enhance a Shabbos meal, we are infusing to material world with spirituality, bringing us even closer to H. In short: serving H and bringing Him honor is for our benefit. The more we recognize Him and are able to get close to Him, the more we connect to Him and become worthy of enjoying the great pleasure that is in store for us in the World to Come.”
My mother ,Rivka Leah bas Yehuda Leib- Mrs. Ray Blank A”H together with my father ztl infused in me and my family the love of H. Her yartzeit was yud tes Kislev. I was the youngest in my family. She inculcated the importance of caring for family as she did. Coming from parents who originated from Minsk, Russia, her mother (my Bubbie) spearheaded a Tomchei Shabbos type program on the Lower East Side. Her father (my Zadie) a magid shiur and a contractor by trade was known throughout for his immense honesty, his erlichkeit, his sincerity and refusal to do any work on Shabbos or Yom Tov, even if it meant losing any contracts. He completed shas many times. My mother grew up where she was born across the street from the Yeshiva Mesivtha Tifereth Jerusalem. Through my growing up years, she ensured my development was filled with the same care and appreciation of life as she had. She was a remarkable mother as she was a sister helping take care of her own siblings when her parents were no longer alive. Rav Heinken and his rebbitzens who she knew for many years as did Rav Moshe and Rebbitzen Shima Feinstein relationships were very dear to her and family. In her later years, she helped raise thousands of dollars for MTJ as president of the Sisterhood which was renamed the Rivka Leah Sisterhood. She ran an annual luncheon held in the MTJ dinning room. It was attended by many community residents. At the dais in addition to members of her committee was Rebbitzen Shima Feinstein A” H. My mother always had a distinguished rabbi speak at these luncheons which was usually filled to capacity. She would bring the women who helped collect funds for the yeshiva to Rav Moshe and Rebbitzen Shima’s apartment for a bracha. The women felt satisfied and blessed for the mitzvos they did. My mother always found the right spirit of encouragements and the necessary chizuk to these women, her friends, and her family. After her levayeh, those being melave following the hearse down East Broadway from the chapel to the yeshiva. All the talmidim, rabbeim, beis medrash and kollel came out to give her special kavod. She was hospitalized a number of times, but her emunah, her betachim was extraordinarily strong. One of the last surgeries she had, the surgeon asked the family who Rabbi Feinstein was. It seemed while the anesthesia was taking effect, she was humming a song about this rabbi and doing some sort of good things that were holy. He was impressed with this special woman. Growing up, I was short, but my mother was a confidence builder, encouraging me never to feel “short changed “. Rav Feinstein, Chazan Yossele Roseblatt and many others were also short. In fact, their wives were taller than they were. (so was my wife Keila). She was immensely proud of my accomplishments all through my formative years and through adulthood. She kveld seeing pictures of me and reading about my various endeavors and achievements. She even attended some of the ceremonies and events I participated in. She never missed a beat of being a proud mother filled with tremendous love for me, for family, but most of all for the Ribono shel Olam. She was strong in her beliefs and passed that on to her family. She loved all her grandchildren who she treated as her own. She was a wonderful cook and baked delicious cakes. She made her own gefilte fish beginning with getting a fresh fish that was swimming around in the tank at the local fish market and insisted on kashering her chickens etc. She went through challenging times with a husband who had Parkinson’s and did everything possible for his health and well being. She was at his side through challenging times in earlier years when my father’s store was broken into. While thinking about the store, I remember when my father had an emergency appendicitis surgery she helped in the business until he was able to return to work. Whatever she did, was a life filled with emunah and hope no matter what the circumstances might be. She passed down the mesorah from her parents and mishpacha to her family. I remember clearly after I brought my wife Keila A”H to meet my mother for the first time- as we were leaving, my mother gave me thumbs up and later my sister A”H told me how happy she was. What a sweet smile my wife had and how sincere she was. The love they had for each other was like a mother and a daughter. At our lechaim, she sat amongst all the children and accepted my stepsons as her own. The feelings were mutual. She kveled and sheped so much nachas. At my chasunah she walked down beaming all the way to the chupah. She was a proud mother gaining another daughter. Yes, we all have memories of our loved ones. What is important is to take those memories and transfer them to living legacies, keeping alive the mesorah. My mother until her last days on this world, her love of Yiddishkeit, her love for all that was dear and important to her remained strong until the end of her life. I also remember growing up listening to my mother reciting with lots of kavana Gott fun Avraham at the conclusion of Shabbos. She knew every word by heart. (Because if was designed both as a prayer and as a source of inspiration, it was composed in Yiddish, the prevailing language among Eastern European Jews.The following are some of the last lines . Ribono shel Olam du bist dawch hanosein layaweif koach, kib dayneh libeh Yiddishah kinderlech oich koach dich tzu loiben un dich tzu dinen un vaytzer keinem nish. Un di vach unz kumen tzu chesed, un tzu mazal, un tzu beracha, un tzu hatzlacha, un tzu gezundt, un tzu osher vechavod, un tzu bawnei chayei unezineu, lawnu ulechawl Yisrael, Amein” Master of the universe, (since) You are indeed the One Who gives to the exhausted strength give Your beloved Jewish children also the strength to praise You, and to serve You, and besides ( You) no one else, And this week may it (arrive) bringing us to acts of kindness, and to good fortune, and to blessing, and to success, and to health, and to wealth, and honor, and to children life and sustenance for us and for all Israel Amen”. From the Artscroll Family Zemiros Mesorah Publications Ltd” May she be a malitza yeshara for family and Klal Yisrael.
Thank you. Respectfully and sincerely, Rabbi Yehuda Blank