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 rablenblank@gmail.com
^^^ Thursday, January 6, 2022- Shevat 4, 5782 ^^^ ============================================================================
Post Secular Holiday and New Year VS Post Jewish New Year and Yom Tov
Kindness and truth in our lives, those we care for and for everyone.
Chizuk, inspirations, Rav Nissan, Rav Moshe and Basya
Inspirations from a magnificent Rebbitzen.
The impact on a talmid by his 5th grade Rebbe who eventually became a Rosh Kollel.
The impact on Klal Yisrael by our Rabbonim, Rebbitzens, and each other.
If we only knew !

Through the years, I have had patients, staff and co-workers who shared with me how they found the days following the secular new year to be depressing and sometimes quite upsetting, but why? For almost a month before their holiday until the culmination of the secular new year- mind you for years, there would be office holiday parties, sometimes gift giving, perhaps bonuses, people exchanging friendly greetings, supervisors become extra nice, co-workers extra courteous to each other with extra signs of kindness and of course the traditional holiday greetings and then the happy new years greeting to one and all. Even strangers would offer greetings to one another. I too have been the recipient of those greetings as I am sure many of our readers have. In return, I would offer seasons greetings and have a good year. But then the days after the new year celebrations and return to work or the usual everyday activities, everything seems to be back to the same way as before the holiday seasons began. The extra niceness returns back to the way it was. There is also the new year resolutions, but then what ? For many it is really a downer. All those festivities are gone. All the trimmings taken down and thrown out. The lights, the trees, the music, the greetings- all gone.

In the Jewish religion , from the beginning of the recitation of selichos, through the Yomim Neorim , Sukkos and then Simchas Torah , our emphasis is on the ruchnias as well as the gashmios. Our relationship with the Ribono shel Olam is of utmost importance, but so is of our kindness, our goodness, our concern for each other and those who are in need of our care. Chesed shel emes. Rather than feeling down, we seek to have our spirits as high as possible with all of our maysim tovim, gemilus chasadim, our love for H. our love for our Yiddishkeit and a love for our fellow Jew no matter what his or her background might be. These and other attributes do not dissipate at the conclusion each of our yom tovim. On the contrary , mitzva goreres mitzva. There is continuity and tremendous appreciation for what we believe in and from our hearts.

Kindness and Truth from Rabbi Frand and the Parsha Artscroll Series Mesorah Publications Ltd (pages 90-92) Vatiftach Vatireihu Es Hayeled Vehenei Na ar Bocheh Vatachmol Awlawv Vatomer Miyaldei Hawivrim Zeh And she opened [the box] and saw the boy, and behold, he was crying, and she took pity on him and said,” This is a Hebrew boy.” (2:6)

{Pharoh’s daughter Basya sent her attendants to fetch the box, opened it and saw a baby boy crying, and she said “This is a Hebrew boy” Basya assumed this baby’s parents were trying to save him. Basya’s logic was excellent, and she guessed right. But is seems to have taken her a while to figure it out As soon as she saw the box contained a boy, she should have realized he was a Jewish boy. But apparently, this is not what happened. According to the Torah, she noticed that “he was crying, and she took pity on him” and only afterward did she say “This is a Hebrew boy “.What took her so long ? Rav Nissan Alpert ztkl Rav Moshe Feinstein’s talmid muvak. Offered a beautiful solution to this question in the context of his eulogy for his rebbi. Rav Moshe ztkl was universally recognized as by far the greatest Torah scholar of his time. His knowledge was vaster than vast, his insight razor sharp and his humility, sensitivity and kindness legendary. One might have thought it would be very difficult for a young scholar to receive a haskamah, a letter of approbation, for a new sefer from such a towering sage, but just the opposite was true. Rav Moshe gave haskamos readily and easily to just about anyone who asked for them. He also gave letters of recommendation and letters of endorsement for all sorts of projects with the same ease. It came to the point that people were no longer impressed by a letter from Rav Moshe, so easy to come by. Why did he do this? Why wasn’t he more discriminating when it came to writing letters on behalf of people? Rav Alpert explained that chessed, kindness, and emes, truth, are not really compatible concepts. Kindness flows from the heart. It is an instinctive emotional response. Truth is established by the brain. It is the product of scrutiny, investigation and logic. In a certain sense, truth is the antagonist of kindness. If we would do a thorough investigation on of poor people that ask for charity we would probably reject most of them. Indeed, when chesed and emes are mentioned together in the Torah (Bereishis 24:49 ; Shemos34:6; Yehoshua 2:14), the word chessed always precedes the word emes. Chessed is quick and instinctive. Emes is deliberated and thorough. If chessed would wait for emes, it would never get off the ground. A person’s first reaction must be kindness. Only afterward should he set off in search for the truth. (continued) When a young author comes for an approbation, give it to him! This was Rav Moshe’s philosophy in life. When Basya opened the box and saw the boy, concluded Rav Alpert, her first reaction wasn’t to assess the situation, to consider who the child’s parents were and why he was adrift on the river, to determine if it would be appropriate to rescue him. Her first reaction was kindness. “He was crying, and she took pity on him.” Before she gave any thoughts to the situation, her kind heart went out to the crying child. Only afterward did she stop to consider the situation, and she came to the correct conclusion that “this is a Hebrew boy”.

We have to be empathetic, compassionate, thoughtful, caring, sincere. Sometimes a person even in his or her greatness can be fearful and needs support a guiding and loving hand to show the way. Rebbitzen Malkie Machlis, a well known Menahales with her intuitive guidance she has given to hundreds of young women through her professional years as she still does today. Rebbizen Machlis shared with me without any personal or confidential information how many of her former students keep in touch seeking her guidance, heartfelt chizuk with Torah inspiration. The impact she has made on her talmidos and for many others is truly special. She has graciously shared with me the following from one of her many lessons given to her talmidos that H is there for them during their challenging times. “ Why is this weeks Parsha called Bo, It should be called Parsha Tzei, because if is about Yitzias Mitzrayim- going out of Egypt, but this is the first time that Moshe Rabbeinu actually went into Pharoh’s palace. Moshe was frightened as he had to pass through many rooms that were well guarded in order to reach the King . H said to Moshe Rabbeinu, “come with me”. Moshe now going with H was no longer fearful. Rebbitzen Machlis wanted her talmidos even as they were to go though the years with many challenges, that H will be with them and not to be fearful. Just be mispallel to H and he will be with them. Rebbitzen Machlis who resides on the Lower East Side of Manhattan in NYC is the wife of Rabbi Moshe Machlis sol zein gezundt a chashuva rav in his own right. Rabbi and Rebbitzen Machlis has been two of those wonderful individuals who gave me chizuk and encouragement during my challenging times before and after my wife was nifteres. I was very fortunate, to have such caring people in my community and elsewhere all during my wife’s illness including a magnificent group of women on the Lower East Side who recited Tehilim nightly for my wife as they still do for others who need a refuah sheleima and Rachamei Shamayim. Rabbi and Rebbizen Machlis continuously inspire me with sincere encouragement and blessings to have simchas hachayim as they do for others as well. May Rabbi and Rebbitzin Machlis continue to be wonderful messengers of H caring for Klal Yisrael for 120 years with their own simchas hachayim , nachas from their entire mishpacha with good health and much happiness.

There is so much we can accomplish, inspiring others, sharing, conveying and instilling the love for H, the Torah, the essence of Maysim Tovim, of Achdus amongst Klal Yisrael, the meaning of being Mekadeish H and how much the Ribono shel Olam loves Klal Yisrael. If only we would know the impact we have on others not just now, but in years that have passed. could make a tremendous difference in people’s lives.

I am sharing the Publisher’s Message by Mordy Mehlman from the FJJ Newspaper December 12, 2021. “In this weeks Parsha, Moshe Rabbeinu hesitates to accept the leadership of Klal Yisrael. Amongst his concerns is the fact that his older brother Aharon will be passed up for the job and feel bad about it. H tells him” V’roacha v’somach b’libo”- when you go to Mitzrayim, your older brother Aharon will see your rise to power and be happy in his heart. Regarding this the Medrash famously says: If Aharon had known that the Torah would say this about him, he would have greeted Moshe playing musical instruments. The meforshim ask, were the great Aharon’s actions decided by publicity would he have performed mitzvos with greater fervor if he knew it would bring honor and fame? Numerous answers are given, but I would like to focus on one-Aharon did what he thought was a small, inconsequential act; a good deed that came to him naturally. Had he known the impact of his ‘small’ deed and its great effect on others, he would have done much, much more. I heard a similar story from a Rebbi I know. A fifth grade talmid of his from thirty years ago, who is now Rabbi Yaakov Arvele, a Rosh Kollel in Eretz Yisrael, sent him divrei Torah he wrote on Sefer Bereishis. After reviewing it, he commended him on the beautiful work. His talmid email response blew him away, and I repeat it here for the great lesson it teaches. “This week I have a tremendous simchas halev for having the zchus to have written these Devrie Torah on the entire Sefer Bereishis. Every week H sends me a new siyata d’shmaya to figure out hew to mesh together a beautiful idea based on all the Kli Yakar on the entire Parsha. Why am I sharing this with you ? To receive these kind words from you, the Rebbe who introduced me to the beauty and sweetness of Torah an Yiddishkeit specifically this week, just brings this all full circle and means so much to me. Gut Shabbos from your Talmid, Yaakov” The letter brought tears of happiness to the Rebbi’s eyes, but he said “ had I known the impact I was having on my students, I probably would have worked much harder to be an even better Rebbi” What a great lesson this letter is for Rebbeim, Morahs, Menahalim, parents, and friends, all who can easily have lifelong effects on others. We are much more valuable than we think. Like Aharon in the Torah, if we only knew…
If we only knew the value of Bikur Cholim, we would visit many more sick people.
If we only knew the value of cheering up the elderly, we would visit them more often.
If we only knew the value of helping the poor, we would shower them with money.
If we only knew the power of Torah and tefillah, our learning and tefillos would look so different.
If we only knew the power of a smile, we would show it more often.
If we only knew the power of time, we wouldn’t waste a moment.
If we only knew the importance of paying attention to our children, they would be our focus.
Let’s live our lives knowing what to do , instead of if we only knew. Our lives and those of all we encounter will be the better for it.” (page 10 of the FJJ).

O Ribono shel Olam, our Heilika Tatte, if we only knew, but You do. There are so many if we only knew. Oh how much do we love You. If only we would think of you every moment of the day. There are tears in our eyes for there are so many if I knew, but cannot relive those precious moments that are gone. Nor can we relive or even bring back those whose lives were so precious. But the Ribono shel Olam gives us so many new opportunities. A new child, a new spouse, a new job, a new beginning, a new day, a new moment to start anew if that is meant to be. It all depends on how we perceive life. How every new minute we can find something that is precious to us, rather than finding absolutely nothing. Rabbis, rebbitzens, chaplains, can find value in life even when that might seem impossible, but it is possible. It all depends how we can find and give kindness, goodness, in our selves-to be able to find value in ourselves and each other. We have the abilities of uplifting the spirits and value of others. It is a special blessing to be a rabbi, rebbitzen or a chaplain, but it is a blessing to be Jew who can inspire others and to remember “Bo, I will come with you”. H is with us- we just have to be mispallel to Him, during our tefilos and as I mentioned in previous articles, our bakashos, our prayers to Him from our hearts. He loves Klal Yisrael, but we must have that love for Him. We all want Moshiach, but we must strive to have achdus. We must inspire each other and never take things for granted. H has given us the abilities of helping others each of us with different strengths and capabilities.

These a some quotes about kindness from a book a patient (resident) at the Bialystoker Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation gave me. She was not of the Jewish faith, but my relationship with all the patients and staff no matter their religion, their culture, their background, was special and I will share with you a special quote from the Alter of Slabodka below, but first these quotes;

“Kind actions begin with kind thoughts”
“Friendship is a living thing that lasts only as long as it is nourished with kindness, sympathy, and understanding”
“Kindness is the insignia of a loving heart”
“Kindness is the golden chain by which society is bound together”
“ A kind word picks up a man when trouble weighs him down”
“ Let all your words be kind, and you will always head kind echoes”

A long time chaver of mine, Marurice S, Kaprow who is the Executive Vice President of the Neshama, National Association of Jewish Chaplains often shared how Jewish Chaplains offer their support with care, sincerity, kindness and respect of a persons Jewish heritage and respect for all. NAJC promotes the gold standards of professional chaplaincy and the importance of being a Board Certified Chaplain. No matter what ones background might be, we all must promote kindness and chesed.

This is a quote from the Alter of Slabodka “ All people are precious because they are all made In the image of G. When one showers another with Kindness and Respect, one honors G Himself”. ( From the Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation)

From the tefiah Awnaw Bechoach in the morning Shacharis:
We beg You! With the strength of the greatness of Your right hand, untie the bundled [sins]. Accept the prayer of Your people; strengthen us, purify us, O Awesome One. Please O Strong One those who foster Your Oneness, like the pupil of an eye guard them. Bless them, purify them, show them mercy; may Your righteousness always recompense them. Powerful One, Holy One, with the abundance of Your goodness guide Your congregation. Unique One, Exalted One, to Your people turn, to those who proclaim Your holiness. Our entreaty accept, and hear our cry, O Knower of mysteries. Blessed is the name of His glorious kingdom for ever and ever.
(Translation from the Artscroll Series Siddur Mesorah Publications Ltd).
Thank you. Sincerely, Rabbi Yehuda Blank

The following are videos of the presentations at the Spiritual Growth While Working in Medicine seminar hosted by Beit Medrash Govoha for Medical Halacha, Touro College and University System, and the Jewish Physicians Network December 19, 2021:

Part 1: Welcome
Part 2: Dr. Weinberger
Part 3: Dr. Zelefsky
Part 4: Rabbi Sprung
Part 5: Dr. Reichman

Click this text for the forthcoming Chemed Medicine + Ethics Conference, Feb-20 2022.