Rabbi Yehuda (Leonard) Blank MS, BCC
Vice President of Professional Development and External Affairs
Rabbinical Alliance of America/Igud HaRabbonim
^*^*^*^ Thursday, August 25th,2022, 28 Av, 5782^*^*^*^
Elul is upon us and for many it brings different thoughts and concerns about the future. A lot of emphasis is on Teshuvah, Tefilah, Tzedaka – Will H forgive, what does the future have in store, and often many look at the beginning of this zman in a negative way. However, the Teshuvah, Tefillah and Tzedakah should be looked upon in a positive way, of golden opportunities for all of us not only for forgiveness, but to strengthen our kesher, our relationship with the Ribono shel Olam. Elul also stands for Efshor leheskayeim velaamod lefanecha. No matter what aveiros a person did during the course of the year now we have the ability to stand before H and do Teshuvah because Teshuvah, Tefillah, Utzedakah maaverin es roah hagezeirah.
In my years as a rabbi and as a chaplain, was often asked if a person who is at end of life, has a life threatening illness, chronic illness, an older person, someone who committed various sins, will there be any chances for forgiveness. Often out of fear their impressions were quite negative especially of dying. What will become of them and their souls after death? The message they often heard was forgiveness being very difficult unless they would cleanse their souls and how was that ever to be possible?
I would not say that a person will be forgiven, but rather that G is a forgiving and a loving G and that forgiveness is always possible. A rabbi, rebbetzin and chaplain can offer explanations of the concept of Teshuvah, Tefilla and Tzedaka with upbeat, sincere feelings for the person requesting comfort and reassurance. Also, conveying the sweetness of the Torah and the meaningful mitzvos we can all do. The Torah belongs to all and not just those who are the learned. Everyone has a place with H. There is no one level that is superior than another. Everyone has potential and everyone has a purpose in life. We are all family, and achdus is so precious. It is important to be empathetic, compassionate, caring and sincere, for all human beings- no matter what ones background might be. For those who are not of the Jewish faith there are the opportunities of listening, of sharing, of exploring ones concerns. To be in the presence with the other person ministering to. To find rays of hope and acts of kindness and goodness in ones life and his/her contributions caring for others in the spirit of G.
The essence of hope, faith, emunah and especially betachon having trust in the Ribono shel Olam and whenever possible, to be Mekadeish H. It is one thing to have hope and faith, but to trust in G in H is truly being on a higher level that everyone can achieve. One must not just believe, but one must know it is true. A rabbi, rebbetzin and chaplain with sincerity can help a person find value in life and how he/she contributes to humanity. Enhancing self-worth, being empathetic is important and most of all, how much G finds value in each person. We are all in the image of G, Betzelem Elokim. How can we walk in the ways of G/ H? By being a good human being, doing kind deeds, being polite, caring, and helping to find even small ways of self- improvement each person can achieve and feel good about themselves. Taking small steps, not feeling overwhelmed, but truly accomplishing even those small beginnings that will lead on to even greater accomplishments in life. These can go a long way of forgiveness, of changing the course of ones life and appreciating ones self. Rabbi Akiva noticed the dripping of water on a rock and with all those drops made a dent in that rock. With encouragement from his wife, with determination and belief that it is possible to grow and learn new ways of life with tremendous love in H, he ultimately became one of the greatest rabbi’s of all time. Whether it be with Torah values or midos tovos, there is so much every person can achieve. Having emunah, faith, hope and having trust in H/ G can change the course of ones life.
The following was in Yeshiva World Tuesday August 23rd, 2022 . Rav Shternuch stressed the importance of Emuna and Bitachon in his message.
“ HaRav Moshe Shternbuch’s Segulah To Avoid Tragedies
HaGaon HaRav Moshe Shternbuch spoke about the many tragedies in Eretz Yisrael in recent weeks over Bein Hazemanim in the course of his weekly shiur last week.
“At a difficult time like this during a multitude of tragedies, Hashem Yishmor, we must daven to Hakadosh Baruch Hu from the depths of our heart,” the Posek HaDor said. “As is known, tefillos create malitzei yosher for a person and they drive away the mikatrigim [accusers]. And if we don’t have the melachim, the malitzei yosher, to advocate good for us, then chas v’shalom, there are destructive melachim who seek to punish us. But if we daven with kavanah, we’re zocheh to melachim, malitzei yosher, who protect us from all evil harm.”
HaRav Shternbuch then spoke about the second nekudah in avoiding tragedies. “It should be known that if we forget to incorporate emunah and bitachon into our life on a day-to-day basis, we make ourselves vulnerable to great danger, that Hakadosh Baruch could abandon us like the does of the field and bring many calamities upon us, Hashem Yishmor.”
“For this is a klal of Hakadosh Baruch Hu’s hanhagah, that in accordance with how much we lift our eyes to Him [depend on Him], He is mashpiah on us an abundance of protection. It’s according to what’s written in Tehillim: ‘יהי חסדך ה’ עלינו כאשר ייחלנו לך.’ On the other hand, if we forget to depend and trust in Him, then we are thrown to the hanhagah of nature, which is paved with disasters, Hashem should protect us.”
“And therefore I instruct those who asked about this [the recent tragedies] that a tested and simple segulah to prevent tragedies and disasters is to trust in Hakadosh Baruch Hu and incorporate emunah and bitachon into everyday life, and thank and praise Hakadosh Baruch Hu for all His chasadim to us. This is the best way to transform the din to goodness.”
“Everyone, and especially bnei hayeshivos, should be mechazeik as much as they can in limmud haTorah, for every hour of limmud with effort and simcha is like a protective wall against evil, rachmana litzlan. And the women should be mechazik in gidrei hatznius and kedushah. Through this, Hashem Yisbarach will help us that we’ll be zohech to hear only good news, yeshuos and nechamos.” (YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)
From Perek Shirah/ The Song of the Universe. Translation and Insights by Rabbi Nosson Scherman Artscroll Series The Schottenstein Edition “R’ Moshe Chaim Luzzato says in the first line of his Derech H, G longs to bestow kindness upon His creatures. The greatest “good” is spiritual growth, and G created the universe in order that the only intelligent being with a Divine soul will be able to attain an awareness of, an understanding of, and a closeness to Him.
We often go through challenging times and situations. We have faith, we
have trust, but still there might be a slight feeling of doubt
as to where is He?
“Avim Omrim: The thick clouds say “ He made darkness His concealment, His shelter surrounding Him- the darkness of water, the clouds of heaven.” (Psalms 18:12) “The cliché is that every cloud has a silver lining. Indeed. Sometimes G seems to surround Himself with thick, dark clouds, clouds like persecution, exile, suffering. Where is He? Why is he concealed? Why is the sky dark? Why is the sun in hiding? And then the clouds open up and drench the earth with life-giving rain. Yes, G was there all along, preparing the way for human survival. So the clouds tell us never to despair, because He is always present, even when we can’t see Him.”
Gratitude to H
“The Domestic Goose says: “Give thanks to H, declare His Name, make His acts known among the peoples. Sing to Him, speak of all His wonders.” (Psalms 105:1-2) “The domestic goose struts fearlessly among people, singing its song of gratitude to G. This is a lesson for us all. Wherever we are, let us unabashedly express our gratitude to G for every good thing in our lives, and let us bring this message to others, as well, through our words and our example.”
Through kindness, being thoughtful and generous
the coming of Redemption.
“The stork says: Speak consolingly of Jerusalem and proclaim to her that her period of exile has been completed, that her iniquity has been forgiven; for she has received double for her sins from the hand of H.” (Isaiah40:2) “The stork’s name alludes to the word chesed, kindness, because, the Sages say, this bird is generous to others of its species. And the Sages teach, also, that the stork always appears on the schedule. These are two characteristics of the inevitable Redemption. When G wills it, no power on earth can delay it, and one sure way to bring it is by being kind, thoughtful, and generous.”
From Between me and You. Heartfelt Prayers for each Jewish Woman Compiled and adapted from the prayers of Rav Noson Sternhartz by Yitzchok Leib Bell Published by: Nachas Books, Jerusalem/New York
Master of the World, help me
Fill my days with holiness and mitzvot.
May I occupy my time
Doing acts of kindness
With a mind that is purified
In thoughts of You and what You want.
Please help me discover
The true good in each day,
That is, Your presence,
And becoming close to You.
Then I will increase
The holiness of my days,
For this is the real meaning
Of a truly long life.”
“Peace and Harmony”
“Put into my heart
Love for my friends,
To love them
From the depths of my soul.
May I truly love my neighbor as myself,
With all my heart, soul and property.
For this is a basic rule of Your Holy Torah.
Remove from the world
Hatred and envy.
Let no one be jealous of me,
And please may I not be jealous
Of anyone else.
May peace and goodwill
Reign forever within all Israel.”
May we all be zoche to be mekabel and mekayeim all that we are mispallel for.
Sincerely, Rabbi Yehuda Blank