Rabbi Yehuda (Leonard) Blank MS, BCC
Director of Programming, Chaplaincy Commission and External Affairs
Rabbinical Alliance of America/Igud HaRabbonim
***Thursday March 10th, 2022, Adar Sheni 7 ,5782***
Zayin Adar: Moshe Rabbeinu’s birthday and yartzeit. Moshe Feinstein’s birthday.
Will our emunah, faith, betachem and prayers alone bring peace and kindness?
My return to my visit with the patient, I mentioned in my last article and why I chose for my Clinical Pastoral Education all denomination tracts. Was it purely for Kiddush H or my desire to offer care as I did in several of my other positions to people of all walks of life?
Hope and inspiration- We need more.
With all our tefilos, all our prayers, all our gemilus chasadim, we must never forget our Holy Torah, not just learning the Torah but to have Ahavas H, Ahavas Torah.
ANOTHER TAKE ON HOPE AND BITACHON
“WHERE HOPE ENDS” from OUT OF THE BOX
by RABBI YAAKOV SALOMON
(Flatbush Jewish Journal March 2, 2022 page 6)
“I really don’t want this to be a “downer,” but I have a problem with “hope.” “What?” you say. “I thought hope is a healthy, wonderful, and special feeling?” Hmm…so I did. And (stay with me) sometimes it is. Like when you put your hope in H. Like when you hope for yeshuos. Like when you hope for Moshiach. All marvelous and devine. The conundrum begins when you hope that a particular shidduch comes through. Or when you hope that a particular yeshiva accepts your son. Or when you pine for a certain job and hope they take you. Al tivtichu bindivim. That specific hope runs counter to true and pure bitachon. Hishtadlus? Yes. Tefila? Certainly. But don’t assume that you know exactly what is best for you. “That’s His job” 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 was a member of the Chavrei Kollel of Yeshiva Torah Vodaath for over 30 years.
In one of my articles in the RAA newsletter I mentioned my conversation I had with Rav Dovid Feinstein ztkl which I shared on his shloshim at the Mesivtha Tifereth Jerusalem Beis Medrash about a bracha for a shidduch. My relationship with Rav Dovid was close for many years and I could ask many diverse questions or seek his advice. I will paraphrase the following. I wanted a bracha for a certain shidduch. His response was to give me a bracha for whatever the Ribono shel Olam knows is best for me should be fulfilled. He mentioned if a person according to the Ribono shel Olam is deserving to receive whatever appropriate he is mispallel for, He will give. However, it might not be what the Ribono shel Olam knows is best for that person. The Ribono shel Olam knows what is in a person’s best interest. Rabbi Salamon’s words in his article above is remarkable and can be applied to any scenario. “Don’t assume that you know exactly, what is best. Only He knows what is best for you. “That’s His job.”
When asked by a patient, or a congregant what the future holds, with disyata dishmaya, with our support, our empathy, our connection with G, our prayers, we can only hope our bakashos, our requests to G will be answered in one way or another. A chaplain, rabbi and rebbetzins hope and faith can be meaningful for a person in times of stress, uncertainty, fear, and the need to hold on to someone be it a loved one or one of us.
Wis important is stay far away from loshon hara, from sinas chinan and as Rav Dovid shared in one of his chumash shiurim, a person should never feel he/she can fool the Aibershta such as dealing with some type of finances not appropriate gained or being done on Shabbos or Yom Tov so he should not lose a deal. What appears to be a monetary profit in the present, he will lose in the future. There is another issue of loshon hara regarding wearing masks. If the return to normalcy includes removing mandates of having to wear a mask, what difference does it make or why should it bother anyone who might be in the presence of a person wearing a mask. If a person has decided to wear a mask for his or her own safety and well being, why not! Of course, the same should be for the person wearing a mask not to be critical of anyone who does not wear a mask. If there is a location where wearing a mask is mandatory, then it would be behooving a person who does not adhere to the request or regulation to wear a mask. We should be understanding and respectful of each other. Not to be critical, nor speak against another person another Jew. We must remember Am Yisrael Chai and Chaveirim Kol Yisrael. The outpouring kindness and tremendous chasadim from all Jewish backgrounds helping our fellow Jew’s and Ukrainians. Saving lives under dire circumstances. There is no way anyone from countries throughout the world has not heard of the remarkable chasadim being done by Jew’s throughout the world. This is a time of Kiddush H and doing what we do best, gemilus chsadim with a good heart. There is no room for hatred. It is a time for saving lives.
In my last article I shared my experience ministering to a patient whose religion was Catholic. She insisted I be the chaplain who will have an impact on her decision to chose life and not death. Every chaplain intern at the hospital was required to be on call 24/7 for at least one week. I received notification on my beeper and received a message from the on-call operator to respond to a certain floor asap. I was to first meet the interdisciplinary team who shared with me the diagnosis and prognosis of a certain female patient who they recommend an operation, a procedure that will save her life. Otherwise, she will die in a matter of weeks if not days. No matter what they shared with this patient, she adamantly refused and in no certain way was willing to take a chance. Neither the surgeons, the social workers or anyone from the medical and social service team could move her or even get her to listen as to why she needs this operation. They then requested the assistance of a chaplain before giving up. The patient was Catholic and I Jewish. Since I have been visiting and ministering to non-Jewish patients, here was another opportunity for a meaningful opportunity, an experience I felt confidence in doing my best.
I knocked on the patient’s door and asked if I may come in. She said yes, I identified myself and asked if she would like me to stay awhile and perhaps if she might want to share how she is doing. I did mention I was Jewish and asked if she would want a chaplain or clergy person of her faith as I did acknowledge I was aware she was Catholic. Her response was absolutely not. She liked the way I spoke and felt comfortable speaking to me. I asked if she would like to share with me any concern she may have. Her adult daughter who was in the room, in a loud voice said she does not want her mother to die. She does not want the operation. Her mother the patient told her to be quiet and to “shut up” and please leave the room so she can speak to me. The daughter left the room in a huffy. I asked the patient if I may sit down next to her, and she said please do. I was quiet giving her an opportunity to speak. She started to cry and told me what kind of operation they want to perform on her and why she was opposed to having it done. I listened to her attentively, letting her tell me about the operation and her fears and resolve not to have it done. She mentioned about ten years before her mother had the same diagnosis and the same prognosis. She chose to listen to the doctors and on the operating table she died. The patient told me she also did not want to die on the operating table like her mother. She will take her chances on living without the operation. I did not argue and asked if I may share some of my thoughts with her. (She said I could call her Jody instead of Mrs.___ (not her real name). Jody told me of course to share with her my thoughts and then to pray with her. I shared my sadness of what she had told me about her mother and about her own fears. I mentioned if it were me, I also would be concerned about consenting to have the same type of operation. She appreciated being able to share her grief, her worries and why she refused to consent to have the operation. I could tell she was already feeling comforted, and she thanked me for caring, understanding and for being concerned about her. I asked Jody if she shared her concerns with the medical team. Her reply was she tried, but they kept insisting the surgery was safe, not to worry. That the chances of dying like her mother is not the same. If I don’t have it done, I will die in a matter of weeks or even days. They did not seem to understand how I felt, or how afraid I am. Jody said to me only I understand what she is going through. That I have feelings about her fears and concerns. She asked what my opinion is. I asked if it was possible that there really has been an improvement in the way they do the operation (she kept saying operation and not surgery) and that the medical team was telling the truth that the risk of dying is no longer the same when her mother died ten years ago. Jody gave it some thought a said that it is possible, but how is she to know or believe them? That is a good question I told her. That is where having faith in G comes into play. She thanked me for being on her side. I asked Jody if the chances of survival had improved, that the chances of dying were really reduced and no one knows for sure but by how much, but they should have an idea how many patients have died since the past ten years, would she consider doing it to save her life? She shared with me that she is not an old woman and does not want to die, not now. She wants very much to live. I asked if she ever prayed to G for help in making decisions and she said yes, why not say a prayer that she knows for guidance to make a good decision and that is just what she did. She of course asked me to also say a Psalm which I did and included an inspirational prayer as well. She told me she made up her mind. She wants very much to live and will do the operation, but only on a few conditions which I mentioned in my article last week. After I agreed, she asked me to call in her daughter to tell her what her decision was which made her daughter incredibly happy. I asked if I should call in the medical team which she consented I do. When I met with the team again, they said they were waiting patiently and were grateful for my intervention. They told each other they made the right decision to have the chaplain respond and that it happened to me. I told them of the conditions I agreed with Jody, and they were flabbergasted that I would go to such extremes for a patient event though the patient is not Jewish. I shared that is what chaplaincy is all about. I did request should Jody want to share with them what her fears were to take the time to listen and show understanding of why she was afraid even though they tried to reassure her the methods of doing the surgery has improved and the chance of her dying had been reduced for ten years ago. I did go in with the team to continue my support for Jody and for the team. I mentioned the team is here upon he requests and did no further talking. She listened and signed the consent forms to have the operation done the following morning. I wished her a pleasant evening and she mentioned her daughter is staying with her for awhile. The team thanked me again. Even though I mentioned what the conditions were in last weeks article, I will do so again. I would come to her room in the morning, recite a Psalm, give her and inspirational prayer and remain by her bedside until it was time to go to the Operating Room location. Of course, I stepped out of the room with her permission when privacy would be appropriate when she was being prepped. She told the nursing staff to make sure I was right outside her door and to return to her bedside ASAP. I accompanied her all the way to the OR unit. I mentioned it is a sterile location and I could not enter, but I would again say a Psalm and gave her another inspirational prayer. She waved to me and went into the OR unit. I met her in the recovery room as she wanted me to be there when she returns which I did receive permission to do. Of course, she was groggy, but when her eyes opened a little, I told her here I am. You are alive, and the operation a success. I did not discuss the procedure but was told that it was a success. I returned later with a smile on her face that she was truly alive.
Did I go out of my way because of a Kiddush H? I did what I did to help a fellow human being. If what I did was a Kiddush H, then all I can say is to give thanks to H for giving me the opportunity of helping another person. There were a few choices I had for taking CPE through the Jewish track or the one I chose; The CPE educator and supervisor of the Jewish track was Bonnita Taylor. She had a phenomenal reputation for her leadership and mentorship, However, I wanted to be exposed to and work with men, women, teenagers, and pediatrics from all walks of life and to do so at Beth Israel Medical Center with two superb CPE instructors and supervisors Jeffery Silberman and Bonnie Conners. I mentioned in a previous article my supervisors in one of my evaluations that I was able to cross many borders, collaborate with and minister patients and staff of diverse religious, spiritual, cultural backgrounds and different lifestyles. Yet, retain my own Judaism not compromising my own faith and beliefs as an Orthodox Jewish chaplain and rabbi. Was I able to be Mekadeish H during my years at BIMC, I hope so? Both CPE choices were through the Health Care Chaplaincy of New York. I was not on a religious mission, but one of the humanities. CPE was a lot of intense work, verbatims, didactics, grand rounds, group work, patient visits, and so much more. Taking CPE and being a chaplain intern meant having a devoted commitment. My supervisors had lofty expectations which even more reason brought me much pride in the work I did. Many hours were devoted in addition to my regular work schedule. Preparing for Board Certification meant an additional commitment of meeting all requirements. Through the years, even at the present time when I would receive a phone call for advice about becoming a professional chaplain, about CPE or about advice for job requirements or openings, for some it came as a shock to learn what CPE requirements are and the commitments one must make doing so. Doing bikur cholim, volunteering in a skilled nursing facility, a rehabilitation center or as a rabbi are good points to add to one’s resume. Being a chaplain demands other requirements. Chaplains in correctional facilities or other diverse positions often have similar or other requirements. I am pleased to be of any assistance to someone requesting my advice or suggestions. I try not to be discouraging and help seek assorted opportunities or other venues for education, if chaplaincy is not a good fit. One must always remember, everything is up to H. He knows best. It is a mitzva to help a fellow Yid and for that matter
anyone seeking help from the RAA/Igud. Membership in the RAA is not required if we could be of help. Hope and inspiration are a chiyuv for all those who could be helpful should do so. I once again want to commend my dear chaver Rabbi Doniel Krammer for all the valuable information he sends out to the Orthodox Jewish Healthcare Chaplains Listserv.
PLEASE BE AWARE
A reminder regarding shalach manos for anyone on strict dietary restrictions. It is a wonderful mitzva bringing shalach manos to your congregants, neighbors etc. However, to enhance that mitzva, check to find out what that person is allowed to eat or even drink. There are many who are not permitted to eat or drink with ingredients that can include sugar, nuts, wheat, sugar free items, various fruits and vegetables for diverse health or medical reasons- some which could be life threatening. Almond milk, dairy products, wheat products, chocolate, tomatoes, or any tomato sauce, can cause severe allergic reactions or affect various medical conditions. There are some who are not even permitted to have certain foods or beverages without adding certain types of liquids or powders to add consistency. A person who partakes any food or beverages without those being added to the food or beverages can become a candidate for aspiration pneumonia. Please be aware of making sure whoever you know is giving shalach manos to someone who is on a restrictive diet, anyone receiving all kinds of goodies no matter how nice it might look or even taste, can be a danger for some and a geshmak for others. Please be careful.
There will also be major campaigns with advertisements about not serving alcohol beverages of any kind or amount to anyone collecting for tzedakah. And to anyone underage. It is not a mitzva but a serious sin to offer even a little bit of alcohol
even just to taste Car accidents have occurred each year. Tremendous chilul H, but most of all there have been car accidents with serious injuries and death. For some foolish reasons, every year there are adults who think it a good idea, it is a manly thing to treat a teenager like an adult and offer an alcoholic drink. Not even to an adult who will be driving while intoxicated, while driving Purim. It is best and safest not to keep any alcoholic beverages on any table being accessible to anyone.
Let us continue to pray for a peaceful solution. No more destruction, no more deaths. There are still so many in harms way with no way out. We are thankful for those who were able to reach freedom. There are many legitimate charities collecting for desperately need supplies, food, medicines, and so much more including payment for the cost for safe traveling to freedom. Thank you. Sincerely Rabbi Yehuda Blank
Rabbi Doniel Kramer and I received this from Marc Ganz from
The Jewish Physicians Network and the Beis Medrash for Medical
Halacha in conjunction with Touro University proudly present:
Hagaon HaRav Asher Weiss Shlita
Jewish Medical Ethics and Suicide the Role of a Jewish Physician
In End-of-Life Care
Sunday March 20th, 2022, at 1:30 PM
CME credits offered by New York Medical College.
Registration information is on the flyer.