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 April 7, 2022, Nisan 7,5782 () *() *()

Achdus -How important it is to recognize, accept, integrate, the many minhagim, customs, of Klal Yisrael at this time of year, especially regarding Pesach. What binds us and keeps Klal Yisrael together is our love of H, love of our Torah, love we should have for each other. Wonderful Shalom Bayis not just between husband and wife, but the whole family. How mishpacha can integrate and accept a son in law with different minhagim for Pesach. If a son in law does not eat gebraks, and their daughter and son in law are coming for Pesach, are the parents willing to forgo their keneidels made from matza meal, delicious cake made from matza meal, tasty matza brei, or matza farfel to put in to the soup.? What about a son in law who is from a Sephardic background. How does a newlywed learn to acclimate eating rice or other kiniot items. By the way, similar thoughts about Cholov Stam vs Cholov Yisrael not just on Pesach. These are just some examples of whether it is going to be “my way or the highway”.

He spent his life bringing the Sephardic community ever closer to Torah. His life and legacy continues to impact the lives of Sephardic and Ashkenazim across the globe. Enjoy this Growth Through Our Gedolim video by Rabbi Yaakov Moskowitz that truly captures the lessons he embodied and the message that we can take for ourselves and our communities.



When someone asks for advice on any given subject, do we give advice which is beneficial
for that person or for the person giving that advice?

How do we treat others ?

What is our opinion of others such as those who go around collecting tzedakah ?

Chillul H vs Kiddush H.

Chesed, Kindness and Truth.

As chaplains, rabbis and rebbetzins the importance of being sincere to all kinds of people
no matter what they look like, sound like, smell like, think like in any ways.

What is our – your chius in life ?

Though Parshas Acharei Mos is after Pesach I am sharing the following. In Parsha Acharie Mos from Rav Pam on Chumash by Rabbi Sholom Smith Artscroll Series Mesorah Publications Ltd pages (136- 138) ‘Kiddush H’ ‘Do not profane the Name of your G. I am H”(Vayikra 18:21). In regard to Chilul H vs Kiddush H. “Rabbeinu Yonah in Shaarei Teshuva (1:47) also offers a method to repair the damage caused by Chillul H. He writes that this can be done in two ways-by acts of chesed, and the pursuit of emes, as expressed in the study of Torah. He infers this from the pasuk, Through kindness and truth will sin be forgiven(Mishlei 16:6). The two great attributes of H-chesed and emes- are the hallmarks of the Jewish people, and their performance brings kiddush H in its wake. This rectifies the sin of chillul H, which usually caused when Jews do not behave kindly or honestly in their interaction with others, whether fellow Jews of non-Jews”.

Though Acharei Mos is not read until after Pesach, I want to share the following. In Parsha Achrei Mos Shabbos with Rav Pam by Sholom Smith, Artscroll Series Mesorah Publications Ltd (pages 160-162) “Mitzva Abuse” “ He shall pour out its blood and cover it with earth(17:13) “While the concept of “H’s commandments should not be treated with contempt” is usually applied to inanimate ones like the mitzvos of kisuy hadam, esrog, or succah, the Beis HaLevi extends it to the manner in which one must treat a poor person. He says that when one gives a poor person tzedakah, he fulfills a number of mitzvos. At that moment the poor person is a cheftzaw shel mitzva, a precious mitzva object., because through him that one performs these mitzvos. The pauper is surrounded with a special sanctity and holiness just as an esrog and s’chach have when they are used for the mitzvah. How careful one must be not to insult the poor person or treat him with contempt as he collects money or solicits a donation. The Beis HaLevi says that to mistreat him is a violation of a Torah commandment similar to performing kisuy hadam in a disrespectful way by using one’s foot. It is unfortunate that there are those who look down at “collectors” who make the rounds of shuls and yeshivas asking for assistance. Instead of considering them “shnorrers,” they should be looked at as opportunities to fulfill the Torah obligations; the manner in which the poor are treated is an integral part of the mitzvah itself”.

In Parshas Acharei Mos from Rabbi Frand on the Parshah Artscroll Series, Mesorah Publications Ltd (pages 171-173) “The Stuff of Life” “And you shall keep My decrees and My laws, that a person shall do them, and he shall live by them, I am G( 18:5) “ The Talmud (Sanhedrin 74a) derives these guidelines( regarding chillul H )from the verse, “And you shall keep My decrees and My laws, that a person shall do them, and he shall live by them, I am G.” The Torah wants the Jew to “vechai bahem, live by them,” not to die by them. If you have to eat chametz on Pesach in order to survive, do so. If you have to desecrate the Shabbos to save your life, do so. If you have to eat non kosher food to avoid starvation, do so. Your first priority is to “live by them, “ not to die. (skip) Accordingly, Rav Moshe Feinstein in Igros Mosh sees the Talmud as telling us something totally different. On the contrary, the most precious thing in life is mitzvos because we “live by them”; they bring us to the World to Come, to eternal life. Therefore in case of danger it is better to violate a prohibition of the Torah if by so doing one will survive to fulfill many more mitzvos for years to come. The Talmud tells us (Yoma 85a), “Desecrate Shabbos for Him once in order that he should observe Shabbos many times.” For the Jewish people, mitzvos are the stuff of life.

The Gerrer Rebbe offers a chassidishe interpretation of this phrase. vechai bahem, that you shall live by them.” What do we call “living by them”? In the yeshiva world, one often hears the question, “Where do you get your chius?” Literally, this means, “Where do you get life?” The question touches on a profound issue. Where do you find the spark of life? What brightens up your day when you get out of bed in the morning? What excites you? What gives you the zest for life? For some people, it is the prospect of learning Torah. For others, it is the opportunity to do some good work in Jewish outreach. And for yet others, it is the prospect of a good steak or a good game of baseball.

This the Gerrer Rebbe, is what the Torah is telling us. A person should “live by the mitzvos.” His chius , his zest for life, should derive from the prospect of doing mitzvos. These should be the entire raison d’etre for his existence in this fleeting material world. Before you turn around, your life in this world is over, even if you were blessed with a ripe old age. It is all a dream, an illusion. You cannot look for the meaning of life in this world, only in the eternal World of Truth, and only mitzvos will bring you there, Only mitzvos will give you an everlasting, meaningful life.

You should never seek to accumulate money for its own sake. What will it get you A little pleasure in this world? Is that life? Is that where you are expecting to find your chius? You should work as you have to in order to provide a livelihood for your family, but you should seek your chius from doing mitzvos and chessed with your wife and children, your family, your community, all the Jewish People. You should seek your chius in the Torah, You should seek your chius in building a close relationship with the Master of the Universe. That is the key to eternal life.”

Having been a rabbi of a shul, community, chaplain, social service organization and other positions, have often come across men and women who were disheveled, had odor problems, serious abilities keeping their living quarters clean and in good shape etc. There were several cases I will share with you. One was about an elderly woman who was a hoarder. It was almost impossible to find spaces in her apartment to move freely. Another case of a single man who was incontinent. His apartment reeked with urine smell so bad, the odor seeped into the apartment hallway and the residents were up in arms. His clothing reeked from such a strong odor, you could smell him “a mile away” and his clothing was disheveled. In these and other cases. I was able to work with the social workers involved and convince the management not to proceed with evictions. I spent time with each person and eventually with the social workers were able to convince the individuals to accept the assistance of others. Special cleaning crews were accepted into their apartments, fully cleaned, fumigated, for insect and rodent infestations. The mans clothing was cleaned or discarded and in a friendly convincing way to encourage taking a shower of bath. What was helpful was being sincere and willing to give whatever care was needed in a friendly, respectful way. It was not easy, but manageable. This man who made every effort to attend minyan, but with no one wanting to sit near him, was as clean as can be. He truly felt so good about himself. There was a long story about this person. He was witness to his brother being shot and killed during a robbery This person had lost his ability to speak clearly and had other emotional concerns as well. After many years, I was able to make an impact in his life and also was able to find a relative of his who now took an interest in him. He died a few years ago. I worked closely with social workers on various situations. The woman who was a hoarder and very disheveled was another person who management wanted to evict. She was another person who no one wanted to have any relations with. When I was doing my clinical pastoral work in a hospital, came across diverse men and women who the average person would have no difficulty in wanting to stay away from, for many reasons. Yet, a chaplain must be able to offer care to one and all.

When I was working in hospice, I had patients and family members who were of different Sephardic backgrounds. I learned a lot in my travels and gained the respect from their families. I attended and participated in different Sephardic funerals, religious, tefilat and different simchas including those from the Bukhari communities. I remember the first time visiting a family observing the shiva. Their minhag of making many berachot in the zechut of the departed and how important to do so. At one time I was even requested and expected to join them at their dinner which I did. I gained the respect from their Sephardic communities. and meeting with their Chachamim and Rabbonim. There is much to learn from others. I remember how special Rav Moshe ztl and Rav Dovid ztl related to and received other’s from the wide spectrum Jewish communities. It was not unusual to see their hands being kissed or after shaking the hands of Rav Moshe or Rav Dovid they would kiss their own hands. It is an honor to present to my readers the video of Rav Ovadia Yosef which originally was presented on his Yartzeit.

Every so often, I receive phone calls about chaplaincy positions, chaplaincy courses, my opinion about chaplaincy positions, request to enlighten what is chaplaincy all about and if it is good enough to be a rabbi and become a chaplain by taking a course or training. I will spend time answering as many questions as possible, then do a computer job search and chaplaincy opportunities. I will also discuss other job opportunities and classes to attend or register for. I will also review job requirements and what education would be helpful. I have sometimes found individuals who were under the impression all it takes to be a chaplain in a healthcare setting is to be a rabbi. In fact there are members of the Orthodox Healthcare Chaplaincy List serve who are not rabbis. Jewish Chaplains in the US Military must have a recognized smicha. If any of our readers would like information about CPE Clinical Pastoral Education, requirements many healthcare facilities request from potential applicants, or suggestions about other types of employment can contact me at my email or phone listed above. Here is an example of a phone call I recently had. This was from a married man who was learning in a world renown Kollel for a number of years. He wanted to know if the RAA gives a certificate or document stating someone who was a rabbi or learning in Kollel is also a chaplain which I replied no. I shared some of the responsibilities of a chaplain in a hospital or snf/rehabilitation center. It is not impossible for a snf to hire a rabbi to give classes, provide religious services etc. to the Jewish residents and to provide religious and spiritual care to residents (patients) of diverse background’s. I gave him some suggestions to be in contact with another chaplain, to Google information about chaplaincy and what CPE is all about. I recommended putting together a resume and also if he is seeking a parnassa, to contemplate other options. I also recommended contacting someone with a background in job placements and job opportunities including Agudas Yisrael which has a job placement ,counseling as well as advice on job opportunities. I mentioned there are educational courses, many which do give a certification upon satisfactory completing a specific course. There are also courses that are geared for the Orthodox Jewish students, many that offer stipends or scholarships. I always try to find hope and give practical and realistic suggestions that are meaningful. I am not the only person who can offer advice, or information about professional chaplaincy. There are some who I have spoken to did not anticipate hearing how intense CPE is and what being a professional chaplaincy is all about. Being a professional chaplain is a meaningful profession and is to be taken seriously. Is it possible for a snf/rehab to hire a rabbi without CPE or chaplaincy training? Of course anything is possible. Everything is up to the Ribono shel Olam. However, just as a person who is contemplating going into the workforce, should explore many options and what is most suitable for that person including deciding about taking courses for a specific employment opportunity, taking college courses towards a specific degree leading up to being qualified for certain professions including accounting, medical, social work, teaching special education, becoming a paramedic, physician, social worker, guidance counselors, psychologist, law, mental health and so many other fields of opportunities. There are courses leading up to receiving various types of certifications. Then there are job opportunities working in different types of businesses. They might not sound the same as a profession, but whatever is helpful in finding the right fit for parnassa should always be explored. Of course there are other variables to consider such as financial, travel, insurance coverages, and what qualifications does one have. There is also a very important consideration what is best for ones family and making sure there is always Shalom Bayis with open, honest but with sensitive and caring discussions between husband and wife if married and if single, what is best for that person. Never give up hope, don’t be discouraged, always be mispallel for the right direction and decision making.

Amongst the many gemilus chasadim organizations helping with food, clothing and financial assistance for Pesach is Chasdei Lev. This is a volunteer organizations with distribution areas in many locations in the USA and Canada. I visited one of their distribution sites located at the Aviator Field in Brooklyn. Over 3,000 parcels of items were distributed to Rebbe’s and Moro’s. Rav Reuven Feinstein shlita also visited this site giving his encouragement and good wishes to all the young and older volunteers.

May we be zoche to fulfill all the Taryag Mitzvos, to learn from each other, to enhance Kiddush H for Klal Yisrael. May we only have Shalom Bayis, with much simchas hachaim’s happiness, and achdus. Thank you. Sincerely, Rabbi Yehuda Blank