Rabbi Yehuda (Leonard) Blank MS, BCC
Vice President of Professional Development and External Affairs
Rabbinical Alliance of America/Igud HaRabbonim
=== Thursday January 5,2033 Teves 12, 5783 ===
MOMENTS OF INSPIRATION
A Fire on the Staten Island Ferry December 21.
Divine Management, Divine Providence
Hashgachos Pratis: We may not see nor understand the ways of H but
at the conclusion we see that the ways of H are truly and always for the best.
Hakol Bedei Shamayim
Our dependance, our love and our trust in H.
An important lesson about if a person will be a success
or not in future years. Who made that person a novi ?
Yosef a tzadik yesod olam: Yosef chosen by H to be the sustainer of the entire
world. Yosef was not the rodeif his brothers thought him to be:
A limud for us all !
On December 21st, 2022, I was planning to attend the Lighting of the Menorah event at the Staten Island Boro Hall hosted by the Council of Jewish Organizations of Staten Island. I was invited to join many rabbonim, dignitaries, elected officials and others for that ceremony. However, during the day, one of my legs was bothering me. I did not want to disappoint the President of the COJO of SI, but having to stand for some time at the event, might have been difficult or uncomfortable to say the least. I said my bakashos to H. I was prepared to take the 5:00 PM Staten Island Ferry from Manhattan, but decided not to go. That evening, there was a fire in the engine room on the 5:00 PM on the ferry enroute to Staten Island. The ferry stopped while in the New York Harbor near the Statue of Liberty. More than 800 passengers had to evacuate to other boats. Kav Hashgachos Pratis:
I did not go.
My wife A”H at her place of employment was to receive a flu vaccination. However, that year, she was told due to her possibly being allergic to sulfur, she would have to go to her PCP to receive the flu shot. While at the PCP she mentioned an innocuous symptom that was not bothering her. The PCP mentioned the results of the lab work will reveal if there would be anything to be concerned about. In the meantime, she received her flu shot and really was feeling ok. One of the lab results showed she was anemic. He arranged for my wife to have an appointment with a gastroenterologist. That doctor scheduled her to have a colonoscopy and an endoscopy. It revealed a tumor between her esophagus and stomach. After numerous tests, biopsies, appointments so on and so forth, her official diagnosis was Esophageal Cancer. The prognosis- no cure. Life expectancy approximately 10 months. There were many Kav Hashgacha Pratios, from the onset of her having to go to our PCP for a flu shot all through the months of treatments, trials and tribulations until her petira. She lived for three and a half years.
The following is another example of Kav Hashgacha Pratis : From “The Spring Hill Times” Issue 80 Parshas Vayigash Teves 5783 Page 3. “ Yid Has Bitachon” “ A Yid in England owns a factory that produces candles. One day, he received an order for 8,000 candles. It took him two weeks to produce that amount of candles. When he was done, he loaded it into the back of his truck and went to deliver it. When he arrived at the store, which was four hours aways, the owner apologized and explained that he was in the middle of a financial crisis and couldn’t afford them, so he would have to cancel the order.
The Yid said, “Okay” and left. Instead of making a fight.
He left a broken man- what would he do with the candles ?
On the way home, he stopped off at a park and pulled out the Chovos Halevavos he likes to have handy, and went through the whole Sha’ar HaBitachon.
A person then came over to him and asked him what brought him there? He explained that he produces candles and that he was traveling with an order.
The man was amazed and told him that he owns a store and needed 8,000 candles ! He was willing to pay him a certain price if it would be ready in a few weeks time.
The Yid asked him how much he would be willing to pay if he had them for him today? The man named a price which was even higher than the original price. He said, “No problem, please come to my van. I have them here with me.” He gave the man the candles, and got paid on the spot. Done deal. Kav Hashgacha Pratis.”
The following we will learn the Kav Hashgacha Pratis of Yosef Hatzadik, the importance of appreciation, love and trust in the Ribono shel Olam. We learn the importance of caring, respecting, not being judgmental, critical and surely not thinking the worse about others. The lessons of Kav Hashgacha Pratis, of knowing H only does what is for the best.
From Shabbos with Rav Pam by Rabbi Sholom Smith, Artscroll Series Mesorah Publications Ltd Parshas Vayigash Page 78. “The Gemara (Berachos 60b) says, “Whatever the Merciful One does, He does for the best.” This teaches that a person should not say that things are going badly for him. Bitter, yes, but not bad. This is why we pray on Rosh Hashanah for a Shanah Tova Umesukah, a good and sweet year. H always does good for us. At times the doctor prescribes a beneficial medicine, but it is a bitter pill to swallow. If this happens, we can ask the doctor for a better- tasting prescription.”
From Rav Pam on Chumash by Rabbi Sholom Smith Artscroll Series Mesorah Publications Ltd Parshas Vayigash Page 59. “ When Yosef revealed his identity to his brothers by saying I am Yosef (45:3), the happenings of the past twenty-two years suddenly became clear to them. They realized that Yosef was not a vain 17-year-old boy with dreams of grandeur that his whole family would bow down to him, He was a navi who had seen the fulfillment of every aspect of his prophetic vision.”
From A Vort from Rav Pam by Rabbi Sholom Smith Artscroll Series Mesorah Publications Ltd Parshas Vayigash Page 77 “Yosef did not intend to castigate them (his brothers), but they were nonetheless shaken up when they heard him say, I am Yosef. Those words made them realize for the first time who Yosef truly was and how 22 years earlier they had been totally mistaken in their assessment of him. (continued) Furthermore, he (Yosef) had been chosen by H to be the sustainer of the entire world; he had made Egypt the breadbasket of mankind. They had thought of him as a rodief (pursuer), while in reality, he was a tzadik yesod olam (righteous one who is the foundation of the world). Yosef’s reproof was the brother’s realization of how utterly wrongly they had judged him; now they saw him in all his greatness.
There is a practical lesson in this insight. No one can judge the true value of another person, and thus it is prudent to treat every person with respect, curtesy, and honor. The actions of people often hidden from others. A person who is considered by his neighbors to be a “nobody,” unworthy of respect, can in reality be someone with enormous achievements and merits to his credit. How often has it happened that a mediocre student (who many considered “least likely to succeed”) becomes a distinguished rav or Rosh Yeshiva, to the disbelief of his former classmates who thought he would never amount to much, and therefore mistreated him and verbally abused him. How they will have to hide their faces in shame!
A person’s biggest punishment in the World of Truth will be when he is shown the towering place in Gan Eden attained by a friend who he had ridiculed and mistreated. What will he answer to that?”
From The Pentateuch Translation and Commentary by Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch The Judaica Press Inc. New York, N.Y. Page 621. “ Joseph repeatedly points out to his brothers, how this whole chain of events clearly stands out as Divine Management, and in fact, hardly any other story presents to our eyes to a similar extent the ways of Divine Providence. It is the most living commentary on that wonderful pronouncement of “Solomon’s wisdom: (Prov.26:9) “The great Master of the World achieves everything from the smallest seedling. He it is Who brings everything to service.” Without knowing it and without wishing it, folly and sin also are used to serve His ends.” In this particular story the threads are visible, in others they are not apparent, but from this one we can learn the ways of G.”
Yosef’s reveal to his brothers is very interesting. He didn’t berate them for having sold him. Instead, he said “I am your brother Yosef.” Yosef was a tzaddik and is included in the Tzadikim Ushpezin who come as guests to our Sukkahs every night of Sukkos. He was also zocheh to have two Shevatim , when his brothers each had one. Yosef knew that everything comes from H. He knew that he needed to be sold as a slave and go through many trials and tribulations to become Viceroy in Mitzrayim in order to save Klal Yisroel and the world. Yosef Hatzadik knew that H is in charge and whatever happens in our lives is Hashgacha Pratis under H control.
Most of us if not all of us have gone through diverse trials and tribulations and can share many stories of Hashgacha Pratis. There might even have been a time when we were annoyed at someone’s behavior. Or Heaven Forbid questioned someone’s status in life- or why a specific person is in a certain position. If we want the Ribono shel Olam to judge us favorably, to respond to our bakashos with His blessings, then we too should have the same approach regarding our feelings for others. Our love, our trust in H should be as pure and wholesome as possible. Our respect, our intentions of helping and caring for others should be sincere. We are truly fortunate when we can realize the love the Ribono shel Olam has for us and the kesher we have with Him. We are all “Created in the Image of H.” None of us should ever feel we are holier than thou. Only H is holier than all of us. H gives us many talents and creativity in many ways. Life should not be, it is only my way or the highway. We all have what to contribute to humanity and to Klal Yisrael. No one should ever think of anyone as a nobody for each person is truly special in the eyes of H. There are endless opportunities of helping others reach their potential. All we need to do is to search our own hearts and be mispallel to H for his guidance.
From A Handbook of Jewish Thought by Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan Moznaim Publishing Corporation “Love of G” Pages11-12. “There are two paths of loving G. When a person considers all the good that G does and how He constantly watches and sustains him, he feels obliged to love G just as one would love any other benefactor. Regarding such love, the Psalmist said “ I love G, for He has heard my voice and my plea; because He listened to me on the day I called”(Psalms 116:1). Similarly, we are taught that we should love and praise G for every breath that He allows us to draw. However, this is not the highest level of love, since when one loves G only for the good that he receives, he may abandon his love when things go badly.”
“The more a person understands G’s true greatness, the more he loves Him for what He is, and for no other reason. In order to achieve this love, one should therefore strive to understand G’s greatness from His works. Since such love depends upon nothing other than G Himself, it will prevail even if and when one is beset with troubles. Regarding this it is written, “Many waters cannot quench the love [for G], nor can the floods drown it (Songs of Songs 8:7).”
From The Gentle Weapon Prayers for Everyday and Not-So-Everyday
Moments by Rebbe Nachman of Breslov. Jewish Light Publishing.
“ O loving G,
Help me discover
all that is good,
all that is positive
in the world.
Camouflaged though they may be,
Let me find
those elusive sparks of
Let me perceive all the beauty
hidden within Your Creation.”
Thank you. Sincerely, Rabbi Yehuda Blank