Rabbi Yehuda (Leonard) Blank MS, BCC
Director of Programming, Chaplaincy Commission and External Affairs
Rabbinical Alliance of America/Igud HaRabbonim
=== Thursday May 19th, 2022, Iyar 33,5782 ===
Lag B’ Omer
Kavei El H – Place your hope in H
The value of every Jew. Realizing the potential and the goodness of each person.
How precious we all are to H.
Do not be discouraged, be courageous, be strong, take those steps H will love you.
We can make every effort and be proud of our accomplishments.
We offer our bakashos, we do not hear His voice,
but in our hearts, we know what He wants from us.
In G We Trust – Trust in G
Kavei el H, chazak libechaw – “Place your hope in H; strengthen yourself and He will instill courage in your heart, and place your hope in H. There is none as holy as H, for there is none besides You, and there is no Rock like our G. For who is G besides H, and who is a Rock except our G? (Artscroll siddur Artscroll Mesorah Publications Ltd.)
This is a tefilla of hope in H our G recited before the traditional Ein Keilokeinu in the Musaf of Shabbos and Yom Tov. Rabbi Zecharia Wallerstein zt”l instilled that hope in H to the thousands who he shared from his heart to be courageous and not afraid to take the next step in their lives. The step of recognizing their value, and how much their Yiddisha Neshamos means to H – their G. He showed them the way, guiding each person with immense faith in the Ribono shel Olam and how Yiddishkeit could and a does elevate each with tremendous love of our Torah and our mitzvos. A way of life more meaningful, bringing many from the depths of difficulty, helping to inspire, to heal, to feel spiritually and strong with self- confidence.
“Remembering Rabbi Wallerstein zt” l Letters to the Editor FJJ Newspaper (May 12, 2022, page 110) “Your Publisher’s Message tribute to Rabbi Wallerstein was written so beautifully.
“I followed Rabbi Wallerstein on Torah Anytime and what can I say. What an incredible person he was. The love that he had for each and every one was just incredible. For someone that was struggling he didn’t look at their outward appearance he saw their neshama, their potential. When he felt there was a need for something he didn’t just talk about it or complain, he did something about it. Like for one example the Ranch. It bothered him so much that a person who needs help in a facility should be eating treif. So, he made a kosher place. What needed to be done he did. I could probably write pages and pages about this wonderful person, there is so much to learn from him and emulate. His love and closeness to H, not spending so much time on the phone, being the best, you can be….
One last point that made an impression on me. He said when you listen to a speech, how do you know if it’s true or not. You really don’t. However, he said your neshama does. So, when you hear a speech, and the speaker is emes and is speaking from the heart your neshama will know if it’s true. So, Rabbi Wallerstein thank you for all that you have taught me, I know that it was all true!
Klal Yisrael has lost a giant.
H should give a nechama to his family and may we be zoche to the coming of Moshiach very soon. He advocated for Klal Yisrael in his lifetime so I have no doubt he will continue now in the Olam Haemes. Yehi Zichro Boruch.” by Miriam Berkowitz.
“After the Calamity at Meron” by Rabbi Eli Baruch Shulman- Remembering Meron The FJJ newspaper May 12th, 2022 (page 112) From Rabbi Shulman’s drasha the Shabbos after the tragedy. Presented at the Young Israel of Midwood. “These are the most difficult drashos. One wants to say something that will make sense of the tragedy that shook us this past week, but that is beyond me.
One of the talmidim in yeshiva circulated a page in which talmidim could undertake kabalos, as he put it, in memory of the kedoshim. I told him that the impulse is praiseworthy, but we reserve the term kedoshim for those who died al kiddush H. Yet afterward I thought that perhaps, in a certain sense, the term is not out of place. The mitzvah of kiddush H is stated in the Torah, in this week’s parsha, just before the parsha of the moadim. The sefer B’chagvei ha’Sela suggests that the connection is that the purpose of the moadim is to experience closeness to the Ribono shel Olam; the word moed means rendezvous. And no one can be closer to Him than those who give up their lives al Kiddush H (See Baba Basra 10b).
Those who died Thursday night had come to a special makom tefilah to be inspired and uplifted to a greater sense of H’s presence and there in that place and on that occasion, they lost their lives. They perished seeking closeness to H, and no doubt they found it.
After such an event we find ourselves saying that H is sending us a message. And in the next breath we add that we are not nevi’im and don’t know what the message means. Indeed, we look askance at anyone who claims such knowledge. It seems a strange way for Him to communicate with us; what is the point of His sending us messages if we don’t have a way to interpret them?
Perhaps I might suggest an approach. Even prophecy – with the exception of Moshe’s prophecy – did not reach the navi clear and explicit. The Rambam writes that a navi would see a vision, and then look into the heart and finds its meaning there. R’ Yehoshua Leib Diskin (cited in full in Avi Ezri, Hilchos Yesodei HaTorah) adds an amazing thought. Two different nevi im, given the same nevuah, might perceive it in slightly different ways. (He also makes a distinction between the nevuah of Moshe and all nevuah). And yet, he adds, the nevuah would be fulfilled just as the navi to whom it was addressed perceived it. In this regard he compares prophecy to dreams, which Chazal tell us are also sometimes a form of Divine communication- 1/60th of nevuah- and about which the gemara says that the meaning of the dream depends on how it is interpreted. So too the full meaning of the nevuah is found in the heart and the understanding of the prophet to whom it is addressed, and of none else.
Apparently, this is a feature of Divine communication. The meaning of the communication reveals itself in the heart and mind of the receiver.
The Ribono shel Olam is communicating with us; but since we do not have a navi, the communication must be directed individually to each one of us. We cannot know what it means for everyone; but we can endeavor to find what it might mean for me. We can each one of us look into his or her own heart and try to find there what the Ribono shel Olam might be saying to me, what He might want of me and how He might want me to be moved. And if each of us does that honestly and earnestly, in a true spirit of seeking, then the message we will each find will be the message that was meant for each of us.”
Many of us sometimes wonder, what can we accomplish in life. How can we too like Rabbi Wallerstein convey with such conviction to others and ourselves who seek faith and belief in H and build monumental towers as he did both with actual buildings such as Ranch, and in the hearts of so many. Life is not meant to be how much, how many, but to share our love and our trust in H. True emunah and betachin is having trust in H. It is not easy for someone going through challenging times to find joy, hope and faith. But as rabbis. rebbetzins and chaplains have the patience, the understanding, the compassion, and the fortitude to help each person find the path, assist with the steps, no matter how steep they may be. Rabbi Wallerstein believed in all those who sought his guidance. No matter what they were dressed in, how they looked or types of rings they wore. Each Yid was and is precious in the eyes of H. He believed that with his whole heart. He imbued confidence and we too can bring joy in life feeling more confidence in those we offer care, guidance and chizuk to. Helping a person to get up should he/she fall down with an outstretched hand to lead the way.
Do we really know what H wants of us? Do we have any idea of what H is communicating with us? We say our bakashos, but how will we know H’s response to us? In our hearts we must trust in Him and know with immense faith and emunah whatever He does is for our best. With Torah, Avoda, Gemilus Chasadim, Achus, and being Mekadeish H, we will be on the right path as will all those we offer our care to. Helping to bring out the positive, giving encouragement, finding, and giving kindness and goodness in each person is so important.
From Chasidic Masters by Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan “The Concealed Light, Rabbi Nachman of Breslov. Moznaim Publishing Corporation (Chapter 8 page 112, 113) “The attribute of wisdom is actually higher than faith. Still, you must avoid the wisdom of speculation and rely on faith alone. Faith has great power, and when you follow its path, you can attain Desire, a level even higher than Wisdom.”
“Never let yourself fall completely. There are many ways in which you can fall. At times, your prayer and devotion may seem utterly without meaning. Strengthen yourself and begin anew. Act as if you were just beginning to serve G. No matter how many times you fall, rise up and start again. Do this again and again, for otherwise you will never come close to G.
Draw yourself toward G with all your might. Remain strong, no matter how low you fall. Whether you go up or down, always yearn to come close to G. You might be brought low but cry out to G and do everything in your power to serve Him with joy. Without this inner strength, you will never be able to truly approach G.
Keep pushing until you can do nothing else but serve G all your life. Be ready to do so even without any promise of reward.”
Truth and Faith Rabbi Menachem Mendelof Kotzk (chapter 13 page 176) “It is written, “You shall emerge with joy” (Isaiah 55:12). Through joy, you can emerge from all troubles.”
From The Gentle Weapon Prayers for every day, and Not-So Everyday Moments. Timeless Wisdom from the Teachings of the Hasidic Master Rabbi Nachman of Breslov (Jewish Lights Publishing page 63) IN THANKS “Loving, caring G, all the happiness and fulfillment in my life come only from You. Knowing how absolute my dependence on You is, I find peace of mind. Your presence suffuses my life, caressing me with hope, joy and love. I’ve tasted Your love, I’ve known Your compassion, I’ve experienced Your patience, and I am filled with gratefulness.”
=== LAG B’ OMER ===
A day of special, spiritual meaning for Klal Yisrael.
Sincerely, Rabbi Yehuda Blank
Dealing With A Loved One That Is Suffering From A Brain Injury Or Parkinson’s Is Tough.