Rabbi Yehuda (Leonard) Blank MS, BCC
Director of Programming, Chaplaincy Commission and External Affairs
Rabbinical Alliance of America/Igud HaRabbonim
<><>Thursday March 3rd, 2022, Rosh Chodesh Adar Sheni ,5782<><>
*OUR PRAYERS FOR ALL MEN AND WOMENKIND*
*OUR PRAYERS FOR KLAL YISRAEL*
*OUR PRAYERS FOR THOSE WHO ARE IN THE MIDST OF A WAR*
*OUR PRAYERS FOR THEIR SAFETY*
*THERE ARE MANY WHO SAY PERHAPS THIS IS THE TIME FOR THE COMING OF MOSHIACH*
*ONLY THE RIBONO SHEL OLAN KNOWS WHAT THE FUTURE HOLDS*
*CHARITIES DESPERATELY SEEKING NEEDED FUNDS*
PRAYER VIGIALS THROUGHOUT THE WORLD BESEECHING THE MERCY FROM THE RIBONO SHEL OLAM ARE BEING RECITED DAY AND NIGHT FOR OUR BROTHERS AND SISTERS IN THE UKRAINE.
Acheinu Our brothers. This brief plea for G’s mercy on all suffering Jews is often recited communally when prayers are offered for Jews, all of our brothers and sisters who are in danger. Aside from shortages of food and essential supplies, areas are without electricity and thousands who are unable to escape are in the line of fire and other acts of destruction.
The following is the English translation from the Artscroll Siddur Mesorah Publications Ltd.
“Our brothers, the entire House of Israel, who are found in distress and captivity, and remove them from distress, to relief, from darkness to light, from subjugation to redemption, now, speedily, and at a time that comes soon and let us say” Amein”
OUR HOPE AND FAITH IN G D EVEN DURING DIFFICULT TIMES
It is a difficult time especially when there is fear of serious harm, destruction and death being reported and brought to us via radio, computers and printed news. Not only do we hear about people in our own neighborhoods, subways being robbed, physically beaten, forced out of their cars, and even killed, but now we see the various types of destruction in a country whose citizens and government proclaim freedom and peace. To many watching on their computer screens, Jewish men, women and children escaping to nearby countries can be frightening. For those who are Holocaust survivors or their children, this brings back difficult memories. Those who have been a victim of trauma whether it be because of war, crime, serious illness, sudden death of a loved one, COVID -19, or fear of a forthcoming medical procedure, can bring social, emotional, and spiritual difficulties.
It is important for a rabbi, rebbetzin or chaplain to be empathetic, understanding, compassionate, kind, sincere with a golden heart, and a clear listening ear. When appropriate, a holding hand can add a sense of security and understanding. Reaching out to a recognized mental health professional for advice should always be considered. Chaplains, especially those with CPE (Clinical Pastoral Education) are qualified and knowledgeable in the type of care they provide, how to minister with immense finesse and understanding. Often, a person just wants a connection to G for their prayers and concerns. I share the above because it is common to feel the need to offer advice thought to be essential even if it might not be relevant or appropriate.
Can there be hope with so many tragedies that are occurring? Is it possible to have emunah, betachen and faith, when so much evil is happening in the world around us? What can one say when a loved one is faced with a chronic illness, a life threating or life limiting illness with no cure available and if there were treatments, they are no longer effective? In Ukraine, if H wills it, peace can be found, and issues resolved. We do not know how, but only H can make it possible. In challenging scenarios including those that are health related, there are various types of hope. After all these months, there is hope that our country is finally healing from Covid. There is hope that we are now returning to a more normal way of life and a relaxation of mask mandates. What about someone who is concerned about his/her future job perspectives? What future will there be? Chaplains and rabbis cannot give false hopes nor unrealistic thoughts that are not practical or feasible. We can give encouragements and join in prayer for the future. We place our hope and faith in G. Our tears are real. They come from our inner self. Our tears join with our prayers and faith in Him.
“We trust in Him and profess His Unity” Bereishis Rabba 20
“You are G; You alone rule over all the kingdoms of the earth” Tzefania 3:20
“Know that H, He is G” Tehillim 100:3
“Trust in Him at every moment, O people! Pour out before Him your hearts.
G is a refuge for us, Selah! Tehillim 62:9
“From there you will seek H your G, and you will find Him, if you search for Him with all your heart and all your soul “Devorim 4:29
From The Power of Hope the One Essential of Life and Love by Rabbi Maurice Lamm. Rawson Associates Scribner Siman & Shuster Inc. (Excerpts from this book)
“I will take you through the darkest nights- to the brightest days- and we will defeat hopelessness together” (page 151).
“One of the magical qualities of hope is its ability to silently reformulate itself to adapt to changing conditions, it defies logic; presses for life when life is impossible; turns us to the future when we are tempted to stop and wrestle with the past, and then moves us to begin that future. It makes us talk success in the presence of fear; encourages us to leap over obstacles; enables us to recoup it after we lose it; and then miraculously adjusts itself to suit our every change!” (Page 161)
“Looking for people who live on hope? Look around you.”
“Hope is natural. We all possess it. It needs only to be uncovered, not discovered.” (Page 23)
A chaplain once told a person going through a difficult and challenging time.
“Please don’t give up hope_ I am with you” That was me sharing encouragement with a Catholic patient who feared a certain operation which her mother had died during the same operation ten years before. I gained her trust, and she consented to the operation that would save her life, only if I did the following. I would come to her room in the morning before the operation to say psalms, and an inspirational prayer with her. I would remain at her bedside until it was time to be taken to surgery. I would accompany her right to the doors to the surgery area and would again wish her my blessings. The other agreement was for me greet her in the recovery room to make sure all my blessings, good will and TLC had worked and that she not only survived the operation which was a success but that she was truly alive. There is more to this story which I will share the next time. I fulfilled my promise to her. Yes, she was a Catholic patient who only wanted me even though I was a Jewish Chaplain. She did not want any other chaplain. This occured during my CPE internship at the Beth Israel Medical Center in Manhattan. She was just one of my many patients who were not Jewish and from all walks of life.
Even during these trying and dangerous times Jews are being Mekadeish H opening their bomb shelters to those who are not Jewish. The following is from Yeshiva World (February 28, 2022, 8:45 am)
“Throughout Ukraine, non-Jews are flocking to shelters in shuls as they believe that the Russian army will not harm shuls. According to a Yediot Achranot report on Sunday, thousands of non-Jews are sheltering in shuls. Rav Nachum Ehrentrau, Rav of the southeastern Ukrainian city of Zaporozhye, said that he welcomes everyone, Jews, and non-Jews alike, who seek shelter in the shul. “We’re in the line of fire here,” he said. “There are 350 to 400 people gathered in shul, mostly Jews, but also non-Jews who begged to shelter in the shul because we have a bomb shelter.” “It’s not an official bomb shelter – it’s a basement made out of concrete,” he added. “This is a shul, and the Russians won’t harm it.” In a message to his fellow Chabad shluchim in Ukraine, Rav Ehrentrau asked that that people keep him, his family and the Jewish kehllila in Zaporozhye in mind during their tefillos: נחום חיים הכהן בן נחמה דינה, נחמה דינה בת שינא באשה בתיה, מנחם מענדל הכהן בן נחמה דינה, חנה בת שרה, לוי יצחק בן חנה ושניאור זלמן הכהן בן נחמה דינה, ועבור כל הקהילה היהודית. בברכה לבשורות טובות. Rebbetzin Miriam Moskovitz, who is originally from Sydney, Australia but has lived in the northeastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv for over 30 years, told Yediot that she is also assisting non-Jews, along with the 30,000 members of the Jewish kehilla, where she and her husband and ten other Chabad families serve as Chabad shluchim.“A non-Jewish family came to us after their home was destroyed in the fire and they were left homeless,” she said. “The Rav invited them to the shul.” “We get requests all the time from non-Jews. A woman called us in tears in the middle of the night and begged us to bring her to the shul. We told her we’ll bring her as soon as it’s calmer and that’s what we did.” (YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)
I am grateful for all the opportunities to be Mekadeish H and be a part of Klal Yisrael bringing hope, faith and emunah in H. Klal Yisrael more than ever before need each other with achdus and our belief and faith in H. May our prayers for shalom be answered and may those in harm’s way be safe.
Thank you, Sincerely, Rabbi Yehuda Blank