Rabbi Yehuda (Leonard) Blank MS, BCC
Director of Programming, Chaplaincy Commission and External Affairs
Rabbinical Alliance of America/Igud HaRabbonim
Thursday, May 12th, 2022, Iyar 11,5782
“You shall love your fellow as yourself”
“How to love another”
“And you shall revere your G”
“Let us join together for Happy Times”
(Remembering the Meron Tragedy)
To care for another person with a sincere heart filled with love, kindness,
goodness, simcha and happiness. All with honesty, erlichkeit and sincerity.
“Ani H Elokeicehm”
Have hope, share hope, with emunah, faith and betachen.
From Rabbi Frand on the Parshah by Rabbi Yissocher Frand Mesorah Publications Ltd (pages 177-178) “Rabbi Akiva’s Principle Love your neighbor as you do yourself. (19:18) One of Rabbi Akiva’s most famous sayings is “Ve’ahavta leriacha kamocha. Love your neighbor as you do yourself. This is a fundamental principle of the Torah.” This mitzva is one of the pillars of the entire Torah. We find a similar thought expressed by Hillel. The Talmud relates (Shabbos 31a) that a prospective gentile converts to Judaism asked Hillel to teach him the entire Torah “while standing on one foot.” Hillel replied, ‘Do no do to others that which is hateful to you. This is the essence of Torah. All the rest is explanation.
It seems to me that Rabbi Akiva was most suited to speak about the importance and centrality of this mitzva. Rabbi Akiva was a great rosh yeshiva with many thousands of students, and he experienced a shattering tragedy. All of his twenty-four thousand students died during the Omer period between Pesach and Shavuos. It is an incredible number, a number that fails to penetrate the consciousness even in our day of huge yeshivos.
How would one of us have delt with such a blow? What would we have done if all twenty-four thousand-twenty-four thousand! —-of our students had died in one fell swoop due to some character flaw, a catastrophe that inevitable must have reflected somewhat negatively on their rosh yeshiva? First, we would, of course, have to deal with a serious bout of depression and despondency. And if we managed to get over that, we would probable retire with a broken heart.
What did Rabbi Akiva do? The Talmud tells us (Yevamos 62b), “When Rabbi Akiva’s students died and the world was desolate, he went to the south of Eretz Yisrael and started over again!”
Rabbi Akiva clearly had unbelievable resilience. No matter how great a disaster he suffered, he would find a silver lining in the darkest cloud. He would discover something positive, something to give him new hope, and this would give him the strength and the confidence to start all over again. “All is not lost!” he would exult when he had just lost about everything.
Rabbi Akiva lived through the destruction of the Beis Hamikdash. The Talmud relates (Makos 24a) that several Sages were walking past the ruined Beis Hamikdash and saw a fox emerging from the site of the Holy of Holies. They all burst into tears, except Rabbi Akiva, who began to laugh.” Why do you laugh?” they asked him. He replied, “Because if the prophecy of destruction has come true so literally, then the prophecy of redemption will also come true literally.”
This ability to find the glimmer of light in the deepest darkness, to find the positive, the spark of hope, in the worst of times, made Rabbi Akiva singularly attuned to the mitzva of loving others. He—was able to see the worth in all people and love them for it.
The Baal Shem Tov give us an additional insight into the concept of loving your neighbor” as you do yourself.” When a person gets up in the morning and takes stock of himself, he thinks, “I am basically a good person. I have my faults and foibles; I am not perfect. But I am more good than bad.” This, the Baal Shem Tov says, is how we must evaluate our neighbor. He is basically good. I can overlook his faults.”
“Let us Join Together for Happy Times”
by Sivan Rahav- Meir
“Hi Sivan, my name is Yakir. I run a photography business together with my partner Meor. After the Meron tragedy, we felt that we had to do something. And so we went, in our jeans and t-shirts, to visit the Engelard family, a Chassidic family that lost two sons in the tragedy, their 14-year-old son Moshe and their 9-year-old son Yehoshua.
We met the father, Rabbi Yizchak, who was very moved that we came, and said that we had given him strength. When we left, he said that “Am Yisrael should not get together only in times of tragedy, but also for s’machot (happy occasions).” These beautiful words stayed with me.
This week, months after that visit, I received a surprising message. The Engelard family, b’sha’ah tovah, had a baby boy. Rabbi Yitzchak contacted me and invited me to come and to be with them for happy occasions too, to join them for the brit of their son, who brought new life and comfort to the family. The last time we met, they were sitting on mourners’ chairs, This time we met and hugged, we danced and sang together. And may his name be called among Israel: Yosef Naftali.
As we left, I said to Rabbi Yitzchak that now it is my turn to invite him to s’machot and he agreed. I am attaching a picture taken at the brit, which for me was not only a brit milah, but also a reminder of the brit, the covenant, between us.”
Below is the picture and letter in Hebrew with the translation in English.
This article, invitation and picture was in the HaMizrachi USA Edition Vol 5 No 1(page 49) Author of this wonderful article by Sivan Rahav-Meir is a media personality and lecture, She lives in Jerusalem with her husband Yedidya, and their five children and servs as World Mizachi’s Scholar in Residence. She is a primetime anchor on Channel 2 News, has a column in Israel’s largest newspaper, Yediot Acharonot, and has a weekly radio show on Galei Tzahal (Army Radio).
From the Stone Edition Chumash Artscroll Series Mesorah Publications Ltd Kedoshim. “Vehawhavta Lereiechaw Kamochaw You shall love your fellow as yourself “Ramban explains that it is impossible for all but the saintliest people to feel literally the same love for others that they feel for themselves. The Torah does not demand that; in fact, if someone is in danger, his life comes before that of someone else. Rather, G demands that we want others to have the same degree of success and prosperity that we want for ourselves and that we treat others with the utmost respect and consideration. It is human nature to say that we wish others well, but we want less for them than for ourselves. The Torah says no. A Jew can and should condition himself to want others to have the fullest degree of success he wants for himself. R” Avraham Yehoshua Heschel of Kopitchinitz used to say that the commandment to love your fellows does not mean to love saintly and righteous people- it is impossible not to love such people. G commands us to love even people whom it is hard to love. The Alter of Slabodka said, “The commandment is to love others Kamocha, as you love yourself. Just as you love yourself instinctively, without looking for reasons, so you should love others, even without reasons.”
“How to love another” HaKasav V’HaKabbalah offers a list of realistic examples of how one can fulfill this commandment in ways that are possible: (a)Your affection for others should be real, not feigned. (b) Always treat others with respect. (c) Always seek the best for them. (d) Join in their pain. (e) Greet them with friendliness. (f) Give them the benefit of the doubt. (g) Assist them physically, even in matters that are not very difficult. (h) Be ready to assist with small or moderate loans and gifts. (i) Do not consider yourself better than them.”
To love with one’s heart. How important it is to be sincere. To genuinely care about others and each other. In a previous article several months ago, I wrote how a newly wed thought there would be love between him and his wife within days of their marriage. Love is not a magical word or an emotion that happens over night between husband and wife and surely not during their months of being engaged. What is important is to have feelings for each other. To care for each other. To want to please each other. To be respectful of each other. To show sensitivity. To show and to have trust in each other. There is a difference between the love one has for his/her relatives and the love found between a husband and a wife. There is a tremendous desire to want to care for each other and not think of what is in it for me, but rather, what can I do for her/him, my wife, or my husband- for each other. An important aspect and reason for marriage, is not just for companionship, and surely not what she/he could do for me. but especially what I can do for her/him. This is an immense feeling one has to have in one’s heart with true sincerity. It truly is a wonderful feeling to care for one’s spouse because in one’s heart one knows how important it is for that relationship to have meaning. The same is true of a friendship between two people and others. The Torah wants us is to be caring and sincere with others as we would want them to be for us. One other point I would like to convey and that is being besimcha of another person’s happiness or their simcha. Another test of sincerity is being able to wish mazel tov with a real emesdika smile to someone who one knows made a bar mitzva, a wedding, a bas mitzva, a bris, so on and so forth and you did not receive and invitation. To be without feeling any animosity towards the person who did not invite you. Maybe it was an oversight, maybe there was a limit on how many could be invited. Whatever the reason, how important it is to put aside ill feelings. Besides, how would a person feel if the reverse were the same. To be wished a mazel tov and truly feel the person wishing the mazel tov means what he/she is saying is absolutely marvelous.
The love we have for the Ribono shel Olam is immense and pure. Our Ahavas H can not be compared to any human relationships. There is no comparison of the love H has for Klal Yisrael and how He wants us to follow in His Derech. Parshas Kedoshim is a small sedra in comparison to others. Yet it is a tremendous blueprint of how a Yid should be. We truly have much to learn, to grow and to share with others and each other. The previous Mashgiach Ruchni of Yeshiva Mesivtha Tifereth Jerusalem, Rav Michael Barenbaum ztl, often mentioned, “it is not enough to be a frumer Yid, one must be an erlicher Yid.
We are living in incredibly challenging times. It is all the more reason why we need each other. Achdus is so important. To be Mekadeish H and Klal Yisrael is so vital in many ways. The need to be ambassadors of the Ribono shel Olam and of Klal Yisrael is significant. We surely know how often Klal Yisrael is in the spotlight. May our emunah, our faith in the Ribono shel Olam continue to be strong and never give up hope. May we be zoche Moshiach Tzikeinu Bemheira Veyawmein Amein.
Thank you. Sincerely. Rabbi Yehuda Blank
I received two important notifications about CPE (Clinical Pastoral Education) programs from Rabbi Dr. Hillel Fox, BCDS, BCCC, BCPC
Director, Spiritual Services
Chaplaincy Care and Education
North Shore University Hospital
Tel: (516) 562-4014
Click on this link for information about CPE at North Shore University Hospital
and from Rabbi Benzion Leser Senior Director of Chaplaincy and Pastoral Care at Maimonides Medical Center about a new CPE program at Maimonides Medical Center in Boro Park, Brooklyn.
Daniel H. Silberbusch, BCC
Director, Clinical Pastoral Education
ACPE Certified Educator
Maimonides Medical Center
Office Tel: 718-283-8411
Click on this link for information about CPE at Maimonides
It is important for anyone interested in attending any CPE program to ensure it is appropriate for that person. Just like wanting to attend any educational program or pursuing a specific degree should ensure it is appropriate and meets all the standards and goals that are important for each person.
If I could be of any assistance or for any information, please contact me. Rabbi Blank at either 917 446 2126 or firstname.lastname@example.org