|1. Moment of Inspiration by Rabbi Blank – Chayei Sarah 5783 (corrected)
Rabbi Yehuda (Leonard) Blank MS, BCC
Vice President of Professional Development and External Affairs
Rabbinical Alliance of America/Igud HaRabbonim
===Thursday, November 17,2022, Cheshvan 23, 5783===
Let us remember with positivity, the past, the present and look towards the future.
The past can and should be the foundation for the future.
Remembering Rav Dovid Feinstein zt”l
on his second yartzeit this past Sunday.
Personal stories and reflections.
A special video of Rav Dovid below this article.
Special Article below from Chayim Aruchim.
There is much to learn about and from Rav Dovid Feinestein zt”l. Though it is in the past, it is also our foundation for the present and the future. These are just several of my encounters with Rav Dovid through the years. I have written more extensively in previous articles which are available in our archives.
What is it that I personally miss in my marriage that I learned from Rav Dovid? Caring for a wife with a heart of gold. Loving, caring for, doing for, sharing with, treating a wife with happiness, joy and tremendous respect and admiration. To me. the greatest pleasure in life, one of the greatest zechusim I had was what I could do and share with my wife A”H. To see the care and respect Rav Dovid gave to his Rebbetzin Malke sol zein gezundt was remarkable. How he took care of her, how he treated her. The Rosh Yeshiva always made sure she was comfortable sitting in the front seat of a car. He closed the car door for her, shopped for Shabbos and helped prepare their kitchen and dining room for Shabbos plus so much more . It was so special and endearing. Reb Dovid spoke to his Rebbetzin with such kindness. They cared about each other and it was so obvious to their entire mishpacha and anyone who was close to them. They had a mutual understanding not to share personal or confidential information about certain meetings, or anyone who came to discuss private concerns etc. with Rav Dovid or with Rebbetzen Malke. Here too, in my own marriage, the same held true between my wife and I.
Reb Dovids love for his children and grandchildren was just like his father Rav Moshe zt’l which was known to all. They both showed and showered their affection to their mishpacha with loving kindness. All the kinderlich of any age were given a kiss on the head.
He was a Gadol Hador, but like his father, was able to relate to and show not just respect but absolute and sincere care for anyone. The patience he had, was remarkable. His wisdom on how to respond to all levels of shailos, from the most simple to the most challenging and difficult. He told it as he felt appropriate. He could and would answer with a yes, a maybe, I have to look it up or I just don’t know. For one person he might answer with a simple response for that is what a person needed and for another person, a more complex and deeper response. But he was always truthful and never embellished what he was saying. He told it as it is or should be. Just watching him learn, listening to his shiurim with such ease was a pleasure to learn from. There are those who would attend a shiur without advance preparations, and those who would dwell on all the facets of each Gemara, absorbing everything the Rosh Yeshiva discussed. His Chumash shiurim or those on the Haggadah, Megilus Esther for instance was attended by talmidei chachamin, young and older talmidim and many baal habatim wanting to hear the words of Torah from Rav Dovid.
Rav Dovid Feinstein and Rav Elimelech Bluth zt”l had attended a chasunah of my nephew and niece Rabbi Moshe and Mrs Amy Finkelstein that was held years ago in Indianapolis . On the return trip, the plane was delayed overnight due to a snow storm. The only two who had their talis and tefilim were Rav Dovid and Rav Bluth. All the men davened together in one of the hotel rooms. Each of us had an opportunity of donning either Rav Dovid or Rav Bluth’s tefilim. Since then, I have made sure to take my talis and tefillin when going an a trip a distance from home.
He was so kovodik to others no matter what their position might be in their life. And how did he call me? Well, privately, he would call me by my first name Yehuda, but in public he would always call me Rabbi Blank. I surely did not expect that from my Rebbe, but that is what he did for those he had a kesher with.
Rav Dovid was an Anav in life, always wearing a regular suit with a regular hat. His talmidim were the same, Anavim, modest, humble, unassuming, just like our Rebbe. One of the stories I shared on his shloshim, was the following; In the small hallway in front of the beis medrash of our yeshiva MTJ, there were two wooden phone booths. Each booth had a built in seat, a dial phone with the coin dispenser on the top. The booths had a folding door. Whenever the phone would ring, whoever was in front of the booth would answer and bring a message to whoever the call was for in the beis medrash. One day I was passing by the booths and the phone rang. I sat down and answered the phone. I respectfully asked who this was AND the response was, in Yiddish, this is Moshe Feinstein, I would like to speak to my son Dovid. Of course I jumped up and responded appropriately ( I hope I did). There was no “ I am the Rosh HaYeshiva, or I want to speak to Rav Dovid Feinstein etc. That is how both Rav Moshe and Rav Dovid were.
Though it would not seem kovodik to say Rav Dovid was one of the boys, but for years, whenever we had a siyum at the end of a perek in the Gemara, and especially after concluding a mesechta, we always had a siyum. Nothing fancy, but whatever we had, he enjoyed sharing with us.
Rav Dovid was so accessible to answer shailos, small and big. Most who spoke to him felt so comfortable. With Rav Dovid, there was never a time anyone would have felt to request he keep their conversation private or confidential. Rav Dovid was extremely makpid on confidentiality. He was also makpid not to speak loshon harah.
Rav Dovid cared equally for Klal Yisrael. He taught us by example. He showed us how, as his Rebbetzin mentioned in the video, to be normal. He considered himself to be an ordinary Jew with tremendous responsibilities for Klal Yisrael on his shoulders.
Yes, there is much to learn from the past as we do from our Avos and Imahos in the Torah which will never be outdated.
I have often mentioned in my articles the essence of Emunah and Bitachon. It is important to have hope, to have faith to have Emunah in H. To have Bitachon is to have trust in H. No doubts, but pure trust in H. We as mortals often have doubts in so many things in life, but having Bitachon means to trust in Him without any doubts, without any reservations. What is it that H wants from us? To serve H with all of our hearts, our souls, our guf, to love Him as He does us. We must always believe that He does know what is best for us. Of course many go though trying and challenging times, with fears, concerns, doubts and so many other nerve wracking thoughts of what will become of me, what will happen next, so on and so forth. As Rabbis, Rebbetzins and Chaplains, we face monumental concerns that often take the wisdom of a Shlomo Hamelech to discern and to help make sense of ones challenges and concerns. However, we don’t always have the answer but we could be there for whoever is seeking the advice, the guidance the spirituality of our relationship with H and each other. Nevertheless, instilling good will, enhancing and helping to uplift ones spirits and self confidence is so important. Rav Dovid was truly amazing in his diverse abilities and his devotion to family, to his loved ones, to all who came to seek his gadlus.
I would like to conclude with one of my well known encounters of his chizuk, his instilling the Emunah and most of all the Bitachon in the Ribono shel Olam. I once asked Rav Dovid for a bracha regarding a shiduch for myself. I was so sure this woman was for me and my children, but I could not nor would I continue without Rav Dovid’s bracha and guidance. He shared with me why he would not give a direct bracha that this shidduch should be. Rather this is what the Ribono shel Olam wants for me, then his bracha was then H knows what is best. Reb Dovid shared whether it be a job position or shidduch for example, H knows what is best for a person and should always be mispallel and say his bakashos. In my situation, I was mispallel for the right shidduch and this woman I asked the Rosh Yeshiva about became my wife for 27 years. What Reb Dovid was instilling in me was to have not just Emunah, but to have Betachon in H.
To review all of what Rav Dovid has done through the decades would take up volumes and volumes of written pages or thousands of computer files with numerous categories. Whatever has been written can and should be reviewed for this generation and for generations to come. May we be zoche to follow in the Rosh Yeshivas footsteps and in doing so, we will become knowledgeable in how to follow in the footsteps and walk in the ways of H. Rav Dovid left us a living legacy, his mesorah that will remain with us for generations to come.
Thank you. Sincerely, Rabbi Yehuda Blank
CLICK HERE FOR THE VIDEO OF RAV DOVID
A PICTURE OF RAV DOVID FEINSTEIN AND RABBI YEHUDA BLANK
SPECIAL ARTICLE FROM CHAYIM ARUCHIM.
|University Of Notre Dame School Invites Chayim Aruchim To Speak At Prestigious Religious Liberty Initiative Panel Discussion
Chayim Aruchim Makes History As First Orthodox Organization To Discuss Important End-Of-Life Issues And Jewish Values During Exclusive Gathering At Top-Ranked University
The acclaimed Notre Dame Law School — which is ranked as one of the oldest and most respected law schools in the United States — hosted an important seminar on the topic of “Religious Liberty Issues in Healthcare”.
Distinguished speakers from across the country were invited to discuss the legal challenges facing patients and their families, health care systems, current issues in medical regulation and cultural challenges facing medical students and doctors.
As leaders in the field of end-of-life care, Chayim Aruchim, a project of Agudath Israel of America, is known for advising and advocating patients and their families and educating both law and healthcare professionals on the tenets of Jewish end-of-life values. Understanding and respecting patient values plays an integral role in preventing conflict in times of crisis.
Rabbi Lefkowitz was invited to speak alongside other notable academic leaders, including Peter Banko, CEO of Centura Health, Dr. Lydia Dugdale, director of the Columbia Center for Clinical Medical Ethics, and Louis Brown, executive director of Christ Medicus Foundation.
O. Carter Snead, a professor of law at Notre Dame Law School and the director of the de Nicola Center for Ethics and Culture moderated the discussion, and introduced Rabbi Lefkowitz to the appreciative crowd.
HIGHLIGHTING CHAYIM ARUCHIM’S MISSION TO PRESERVE LIFE
Rabbi Lefkowitz began his presentation by explaining the value the Torah places on the sanctity of Jewish life, and the challenges that patients may face for various health matters, such as brain death and palliative care, two issues he addressed during his talk
“For me, my actions are guided by the Torah, the Jewish Bible,” he said. “The Bible teaches us that the sanctity of human life outweighs all our earthly possessions. This applies even to a severely neurologically impaired person or a person who is destined to die due to a fatal illness or accident… The leading principle is that life is of supreme value ― every life.”
He spoke in great depth about the importance of values in health care: “The United States of America has the most outstanding medical institutions in the world. … However, when it is determined that a patient cannot be cured, but could be treated and that their life will be extended through the treatment, this is where the religious values and the new progressive liberal values collide.”
“We recognize that we are not going to change other people’s values. But what Chayim Aruchim demands is that they recognize and respect those whose values differ, and provide the medical care in accordance with the patient’s values. Such care is consistent with the hallowed American principle of self-determination.”
Rabbi Lefkowitz noted that medical schools should inculcate respect for a patient’s religious values in medical school.
“It seems to me that the most important educational lessons a medical professional can learn are that there are numerous values out there and that the most important thing is to respect and treat the patient according to the patient’s values. I understand that in medical school, they teach ethics. I don’t understand whose ethics they are teaching,” he said, drawing some laughs from the attendees. “If they really want [students] to learn about ethics, they should bring in people from various different backgrounds to teach them what their values are. … That way, they will be sensitized that medical care needs to be given in a culturally sensitive manner,” Lefkowitz continued. “Each faith should have their own Chayim Aruchim.”
He also explained the diverse and complex scenarios that Chayim Aruchim will often encounter when dealing with a healthcare crisis.
“There are a wide variety of issues such as a refusal to put in feeding tubes, refusing intubation, discharging people to hospice, or being told to give up,” he noted. “So Chayim Aruchim has a phone hotline staffed by knowledgeable Rabbinical leaders”.
ADVOCATING FOR CRITICALLY-ILL JEWISH PATIENTS
When the life of a critically ill relative or elderly loved one is on the line, the people around them end up in uncharted territory. Families are confused and terrified. The lack of direction is frustrating and scary. Feelings of guilt and trepidation creep in. Nobody knows what questions to ask or what steps to take. And then, they call Chayim Aruchim.
“When an individual is seriously ill, the patient and the family are not equipped to properly evaluate the critical medical decisions that they are faced with,” emphasized Rabbi Lefkowitz. “Chayim Aruchim was founded to guide, advocate, and protect the religious rights of critically ill Jewish patients and provide end-of-life Halachic guidance.”
Thanks to a 24-hour crisis hotline, families from across the world can make proper decisions that are in the best interests of their loved ones. If you are dealing with a situation that requires end-of-life advocacy or counseling, call Chayim Aruchim’s phone hotline at 718-ARUCHIM (718-278-2446).
To watch or read the full presentation visit: www.chayimaruchim.com