Rabbi Yehuda (Leonard) Blank MS, BCC
Director of Programming, Chaplaincy Commission and External Affairs
Rabbinical Alliance of America/Igud HaRabbonim
() () () Thursday May 31st, 2022, Adar Sheni 2,5782 () () ()
Rav Chaim Kaneifsky ztkl . A wonderful article about his kindness.
The 10th yartzeit of Rav Chaim Pinchas Scheinberg ztkl – A special video brought to you by the author and producer of the Growth Through Our Gedolim Project videos. There will be a new series of videos from Rabbi Yaakov Moskowitz to be seen in my articles found in the RAA weekly newsletter
Rabbi Yaakov Moskowitz serves as Director of Adult Education and Rebbe in Yeshiva Toras Chaim Toras Emes in Miami. He is a dynamic lecturer well known for his engaging shiurim, and his numerous inspirational videos on a wide array of topics, that have touched the lives of Jews across the globe. We are grateful to him for sharing many of his videos with us.
PLEASE SEE BELOW FOR A VIDEO RECORDING OF RABBI SCHEINBERG (or click here if the video does not appear):
A video recording of Rav Asher Meir Weiss from Israel March 20th, 2022 brought to you by The Jewish Physicians Network and the Beis Medrash for Medical Halacha in conjunction with Touro University. “Jewish Medical Ethics and Suicide- The role of a Jewish Physician in end-of life-Care
PLEASE SEE BELOW FOR A VIDEO RECORDING OF RABBI WEISS (or click here if the video does not appear):
There have been countless of articles in the news media about Rav Chaim Kaniefsky ztkl called the Sar HaTorah. “He was born in Kedushah and lived in Kedushah” as one of the titles to biographical highlights Yated Ne’eman March 25, 2022. He was held in high esteem throughout the Torah world. I chose the following article because just like several of the stories I wrote about Rav Moshe Feinstein ztkl, Rav Dovid Feinstein ztkl and RavAvrohom Pam ztkl who were similar in certain aspects of their lives in kedushah, their kindness, and their concern for others. This is about a young clean shaven bachor who later on married, his relationship with Rav Kaniefsy through the years and the kindness Rav Kaniefsky he gave to him
“I’ll Be Like Your Father, Come To Me Any Time You Want”
March 26, 2022 8:01 pm
Yair Eckstein, a legal adviser for the Jerusalem municipality, wrote an article about his special relationship with HaGaon HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, z’tl, that was published by Kikar H’Shabbat.
“There’s no smile that will fill the void left inside me, extinguished by the light of the fire that warmed my soul,” Eckstein began.
“I was zocheh to get to know my father and teacher HaRav Chaim, z’tl, on a winter evening, on my way to the airport after a long and tiring journey between yeshivos and worlds, between light and darkness, between the street and the Beis Medrash.”
“In a moment of crisis, I decided to leave the Chareidi world behind and seek my fortune across the ocean. I had already purchased a one-way airplane ticket to the US with the goal of finding a job and beginning my life anew but that evening, HaRav Miletsky, Rosh Yeshivas Rashi, said to me: ‘One who takes an eitzah from a Zakein doesn’t fail.’”
“I took his advice and I went to Rechov Rashbam. At the door stood a Jew that I owe tremendous hakaras hatov to – Reb Aryeh Kanievsky, the beloved grandson of the Sar HaTorah – who asked me what I want. I told him that I need to consult with HaRav Kanievsky about my future. He brought me into the Rav’s house.”
“Over ten long minutes I told HaRav Chaim, z’tl, my life story, down to the last details, like a small child that tells about his simple world, on the dilemmas and choices between the Chareidi and Dati world, on shemiras hamitzvos and on our goals in the world – I’ll never forget the smile in his wise and deep eyes and his pat on my cheek.”
“He listened to me, asked me a few questions, and said: ‘Remain in Eretz Yisrael, return to yeshivah and from now I’ll be like your father. Come to me when you want and at any time you want.’ In those words.”
“Since that moment, my life changed. I was 18 and from then on every week or at the minimum, every month, I visited the home of the Rav. I was zocheh to a special closeness with the Rav and the Rebbetzin and I was also zocheh that the Rav was my shadchan – after every date he asked to hear how it went and gave me advice.”
“Sometimes I felt that I was wasting his precious time but he always told me with a smile: ‘Ask my son, ask.’”
“When I told him that I’m getting engaged, he requested that I hold the vort it in his home and told the Rebbetzin to bake a cake and even to invite my family to his home. When I invited him to the chasunah, he asked his grandson, Reb Aryeh Kanievsky, to make Sheva Brachos for me and he’ll attend to share in my simcha. When I told him that it’s too much, he responded: ‘It will be mechabeid your wife.’”
“At every crossroads in my life, the Rav would inquire and advise – for example when I was still a yeshivah bochur I wanted to study law but the Rav told me that I should only begin after I get married. And that’s what I did and he blessed me that I be zochech to be makadeish Shem Shamayim. Before every test I would come to ask for a bracha, and like a merciful father, he would bless me but didn’t forget to ask which daf I’m learning and how my family and I are doing.”
“When he was ready for his afternoon rest, he would hold my hand so I could accompany him to his room and he would always talk to me and tell me segulos or stories about the Chazon Ish and the Steipler. And many times when I would accompany him to his bed and he would put his head on the pillow and see that I’m bending down to hear him, he would immediately pick up the alarm clock that was on the chair next to his bed and tell me to sit down.”
“Whenever I asked him: ‘HaRav, how can I pay you back for what you are for me,’ he would answer: ‘Daven that I’ll have the koach to learn Torah.’ Every time I would tell him that I’m davening for him, he would answer ‘Yasher Koach’ – but who am I?”
“Oy, Tati, my dear father and teacher, my heart hasn’t absorbed the fact that I won’t be zochech to your eitzos or glances.”
“Yehi Ratzon that you be a meleitz yosher for us and for all of orphaned Klal Yisrael.”
My wife and I had the zchus of meeting Rav Kaniefsky ztkl and Rebbitzen Kaniefsky A”H the first year of our marriage when we went to Eretz Yisrael to visit my wife’s parents for the first time to meet me. This is going back close to 29 years ago. At that time he did not have the same amount of people coming to him as there were other Gedolim who were still alive. While we were there, it was time for Mincha. I together with others followed Rav Kaniefsky down the stairs to the shul and after Mincha back upstairs. My wife spent time with the Rebbitzen. I remember getting a bracha and giving the Rav a kvitel with names on it.
I would like to make a statement in a question- “What difference does it make to some people if someone they know is planning to spend Pesach in a hotel, renting a villa in Florida or elsewhere, or purchasing ready made food ? Through the years, I have heard people give their opinion of what, how and where Pesach should be celebrated and observed. Anyone who feels Pesach should only be the way they believe in – that is their business. Or “Oh, I wouldn’t do that, going away is not Pesach to me. The Seder should be at home with home made food” Or “ They just want to go away so they don’t have to do all that cleaning” Or “ I would not eat anything that is bought or ready made. Comes Pesach I only trust the food I make”. I can go on and on about what people say. It is a free world (well, not everything is free). No one should feel they have the right to be judge and jury of what anyone else is doing for Pesach. First of all, it leads to loshon harah, sinas chinan, and the “I am better than you” syndrome. If someone is makpid on not eating someone else’s food on Pesach that is his/her right, but to be judgmental of other people is not all right. What is more important is to find ways of bringing shalom, to be kind and caring to others and to be of help whether it be financially, or assisting with someone getting their home/apartment ready for Pesach or even helping with shopping. This is especially important for the elderly, the home bound, and anyone having difficulty getting ready for Pesach. If someone is home alone, it is nice to invite that person to a Seder and if that person does not want to attend a Seder, just inquiring how she/he is conveys good feelings of care and interest.
So what have I been up to on these days leading up to Pesach? Well, doing what most people are doing getting ready. For me, I made a schedule of what needs to be cleaned, items to be put away and items that need to brought out for Pesach. I have a schedule of what and when to purchase items for meals when I will be home. Part of Pesach with family and some days at home. Of course, even though I have been able to deal with grief and bereavement, getting along in life with the work I do for the RAA, and all of my other weekday activities. Nevertheless, there are still times of loneliness. But knowing I am not alone, there is the Ribono shel Olam and I look forward to being with others attending shiur, in shul, in the neighborhood, and all the things I enjoy doing including attending simchas of my relative’s, friends, and others. I sincerely do appreciate when asked how am I doing. It is a good feeling. I am sharing this with my readership of what it is like for me. Is saying or writing that I am a widower a badge of courage, independence, or stating I’m free like a bird to do whatever or go wherever I want to? It just means that special person in my life for 27 years is no longer with me physically, but spiritually and that life must go on. It is a fact of life.
There are no instructions what a widow or widower should be doing. Nor are there instructions of how anyone should be relating to a widow or widower. There might be lots of suggestions and recommendations. Being sensitive, caring and just plain friendly without any strings attached is beneficial .The loss of a loved one, especially a spouse is something to take note of. It is important to know what is good for one person might be different for another person who has lost a spouse. The most important thing to remember is sincerity. The desire of doing chasadim not based on pity but how much you want to do a chesed for someone -even if it is a kind word of friendship. There are those who remarry and there are those who remain single. Like anything else in this world, there are millions and trillions of reasons for everything. Just like there are many reasons of how Pesach is to be observed. We all must be mindful of the feelings of others. Even doing a chesed for someone must be done with finesse. No stings attached. My motto, no strings attached except my tzitzis. The joy, the inner feelings of simcha caring for others, without any strings attached is so important and meaningful. Helping to uplift another persons spirits who might be going through a challenging or difficult time is so important. Even telling someone who might be going away that he/she will be missed is nice to say. Of course ,we must always remember to be Mekadeish H whenever and however possible. Midos tovos especially how we act, what we say, what we do can have a tremendous positive or Heaven Forbid negative impact on what others say or think about Jews We should always remember Am Yisrael Chai.and Chaveirim Kol Yisrael. Klal Yisrael needs achdus. We all need each other and we surely need the Ribono shel Olam and out Holy Torah. There is much to learn from our Gedolim – past and present.
Before I conclude, I want to do a “shout out” about the amazing work of
Health care chaplains and how they are able those majestic things on a daily basis, and no two days the same. With all their added responsibilities preparing for Pesach can be and is phenomenal. The numerous in service training for staff about the laws and customs of Pesach, Answering and responding to the multitudes of questions, requests and specific needs of patients, family and caregivers givers can be intense. The in service also includes, following facility protocols and policies that are mandatory often by government issued mandates that must be adhered to. Integrating many concerns, and finding solutions whenever possible comes with the territory. There are often many halachic concerns and questions which the Jewish chaplain must respond to. He/she is often in contact with a posek for challenging questions and requests. There are often issues of life and death and end of life concerns that must be addressed. Knowing what to do as a chaplain on the Shabbos or Yom Tov is also important especially for patients, family and caregivers. The Jewish chaplain is often a key liaison between patient, family,care givers and the medical and even the non medical staff. Their diplomacy and what and how they do things with the utmost respect, understanding ,compassion and care truly deserve the utmost and greatest praises. He/she is often the most important person in their facility who can make the difference in a meaningful and positive way for patient, family, and care, giver .Not knowing what to do regarding kosher food, religious, ritual needs, or what to expect on a Shabbos or Yom Tov can be addressed to the chaplain. . What might be a simple response for example should a patient need a supplement given via a G tube on Pesach. Family might want to know what about kosher for Passover is it permissible. What about needing something that had kitnios as one of the ingredients?
I once had a hospice patient who only ate certain yogurts, That was one of her main staples of her diet. She was a young Orthodox Jewish patient and would rather eat less than something not permitted on Pesach We had a good chaplain/patient relationship and she trusted whatever I would recommend.
Nevertheless, I wanted her to not only feel comfortable following my recommendations, I wanted to give her self esteem knowing her concerns were validated .I did not want to tell her it is ok because she is ill to eat the yogurt. Rather, I told her I would research other options and also confer with Rav Dovid Feinstein This made her feel that I validated her question as being important. enough to research and even ask Rav Feinstein for his opinion.
She only wanted to do what was considered al pi halacha to be permitted according Jewish law. I did research and there was nothing comparable to the product she enjoyed and needed. I discussed it with Rav Dovid Feinstein and he told me not only could she have the yogurt, she must have it without any reservations. I told her about my research that there no other yogurt comparable and discussed it with Rav Dovid Feinstein. She was so happy that Rav Feinstein said she could eat the yogurt without any reservations. It was not just because due to her medical condition she could eat it, but that Rav Feinstein said she could. I also told her how impressed Rav Feinstein was of her desire to do the correct thing. She was very proud of wanting to do what is right. She lived alone, but had many friends and neighbors she was close with and a very close knit and loving family who would visit often. She was a young woman, married for a short period of time and was diagnose with a certain Cancer. After a number of treatments which took a toll on her, she decided to no longer continue with the chemo she was receiving. She wanted to have as much quality of life for as long as possible without the side effects . I visited her often which she appreciated immensely. Unfortunately the Cancer spread, but she was grateful to H for having those meaningful months with those who meant so much to her. She eventually succumbed to her illness.
I also want to acknowledge all chaplains who serve in different capacities other than healthcare facilities who are often on the front line giving care, helping and assisting others, finding solutions and making a true Kiddush H.
We recite at the conclusion of the Shemoneh Esrei, “May they find favor the expressions of my mouth and the thoughts of my heart before You, H my Rock and my Redeemer. May we be zoche to be good ambassadors of the Ribono Shel Olam. May there be Shalom al Yisrael and be mispallel our prayers and our bakashos be answered. In the days ahead may we look forward to a chag kosher vesameiach Pesach. Perhaps this year we will welcome Eliyahu Hanovi. Thank you. Sincerely, Rabbi Yehuda Blank