Rabbi Yehuda (Leonard) Blank MS, BCC
Vice President of Professional Development and External Affairs
Rabbinical Alliance of America/Igud HaRabbonim
917-446-2126 rablenblank@gmail.com
<><><> Thursday January 26 ,2023 Shevat 4, 5783 <><><>

“When the Ball Is in Your Court”
A basketball story with kindness, midos tovos, sincerity,
appreciation, hashgacha pratis and kiddush H.
by Rabbi Binyomin Pruzansky


Important lessons from
Rabbi Yissocher Frand and Rabbi Paysach J. Krohn
What was the Rosh Yeshivah’s Unusual Request?
The following is a translation from Rabbi Edelstein’s sicha
that he gave in Hebrew as shown on Yeshiva World News.
The link to his sicha can be found at the bottom of my article.

Rosh Yeshivah HaGaon HaRav Gershon Edelstein made a rare request during a
sicha he delivered in his home on Thursday evening.

“Those who speak words of chizzuk to the public, even in chadarim [boys’
schools] and yeshivos ketanos and gedolos, it’s kadai to speak about Ahavas
HaBriyos and V’Ahavata L’Reiyacha Kamocha – it’s a Klal Gadol B’Torah,” HaRav
Edelstein began.

“There’s a Gemara – ‘Amar Rebbe Akiva – Zeh Klal Gadol B’Torah.’ What is a
‘Klal Gadol B’Torah?’ I’ve already said this – there’s a little sefer from Rebbe
Chaim Vital called Shaarei Kedushah – that midos tovos are the yesod.”

“It’s not written in the Torah about midos tovos – it writes about gaava
regarding a melech – but it doesn’t write about anger and all other types of
midos. There are many good midos that aren’t written about in the Torah.”

“That’s because this [midos tovos] is the yesod of nefesh ha’adam – that’s what
Rebbe Chaim Vital writes in Shaarei Kedushah. That without middos tovos, a
person is not a ben-adam [person]. The shleimus of a person is being a ba’al
midos tovos.”

“Therefore it makes sense that if one is speaking words of chizzuk that it should
be about midos tovos. Whoever speaks words of chizzuk to the public, it’s clear
that it is kadai, what is best, where the greatest zechuyos are – is regarding
midos tovos. And when one speaks about it – it has an influence.”

“Each one should speak about middos tovos, divrei chizzuk, v’ahavata l’reiyacha
kamocha, v’halachta b’drachav [one should follow in Hashem’s ways],” the Rosh
Yeshivah concluded.

(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem) Yeshiva World News January 20, 2023

From Rabbi Frand on the Parsha by Rabbi Yissocher Frand Artscroll
Series Mesorah Publications Ltd Parshas Bo Page 100 “ Clearly, even
passive participation in a kiddush H is a very great thing. A person gains
tremendous merit if H chooses him to play a role in a kiddush H, even if it is
only a passive role.

“If this is the reward for a person who has a passive role in a kiddush H,” wrote Rav Simcha Zissel, “how can we even begin to imagine the reward of a person that actively makes a kiddush H? You, Baron Rothschild, considering who you are and what you have done, have actively and publicly sanctified the Name of H, and there is no limit to the honor, respect and gratitude you have earned.”

This is the lesson we must draw from the mitzva of pidyon haben. If a passive
contribution to a kiddush H sanctified the firstborn, we can be sure that an
active contribution would certainly provide at least such a level of sanctification
if not a greater one. And the opportunities are always there for us. We can
make a kiddush H in the way we conduct our daily lives, the way we walk, the
way we negotiate, the way we do business, the way we treat other people, both
Jewish and non-Jewish. It is within our power to cause people who observe us
to remark (Yoma 86a), “ Look at him! Look how beautifully a religious Jew
behaves.” This is such an easy way to make a kiddush H, such an easy way to gain tremendous reward both in this world and the next.”

Motivated by the Maggid by Rabbi Paysach J. Krohn Artscroll Series
Mesorah Publications Ltd “Be the first to say hello” Page 74 “ The Gemara
(Berachos 17) says the Rabban Yochanon ben Zakkai was always the first to
greet others, including a non-Jew in the market place. The last time you got on
a bus, did you say “Hello”, to the bus driver? You can say, “Hello without getting
into a conversation. If the postal carrier drops off the mail in your presence, do
you say, “Thank you”?

Rav Dessler (Michtav Me’Eliyahu 4) writes, “ Let us think about this, Rabbi
Yochanan ben Zakkai knew Mikra, Mishnah, Gemara, halacha, aggada; he knew
the languages of the angels. He bore that burdens of all Klal Yisrael-and never
was he too busy to say hello first.”

In Living Kiddush H, Rabbi Freedman relates that when Rabbi Elchonon Wasserman came to America one of the bochurim who assisted him was (the future) Rabbi Moshe Sherer. Rav Wasserman asked Reb Moshe in Yiddish, “How do you say, Gut Morgen” in English?” He wanted to be sure he would know how do you say, “Gut morgen,’ in English?” He wanted to be sure would know how to greet people, even the doorman, properly.”

There is a universal understanding for Jewish men and women in the workplace
to have proper etiquette. We also include with that etiquette to have proper
midos tovos and proper manners. Of course being sincere is always of utmost
importance. There is no excuse for ignorance of how a person is to act as an
ambassador of Klal Yisrael. How so? Well for one, we are always under the
spotlight amongst the world at large in public places as well as how we interact
with our colleagues, our patients, our clients and each other. Being polite is also
part of midos tovos. The same holds true for businessmen and women as well
as store keepers, managers, salespersons and others. Are we perceived to be
honest, tolerant, understanding, patient, helpful, caring and just being a nice

The Grandeur of the Maggid by Rabbi Paysach J. Krohn Artscroll Series
Mesorah Publications Ltd Giant of Nobility Pages 140-141 “ On January 2,
2020, the day after the 13 th Siyum HaShas took place at MetLife Stadium in New
Jersey, where more than 90,000 Jews from all corners of the world celebrated
the completion of another cycle of Daf Yomi.

Rabbi Binyomin Ginsberg, a noted mechanech and author, was driving from his
home in Toms River, New Jersey, to deliver a lecture to yeshiva students in
Boro Park, Brooklyn.

He left late that morning and was trying to make up time on the Garden State
Parkway. While he was weaving in and out of lanes to pass slower cars, a police
officer motioned to him to pull over. This was the last thing he wanted, as he
was already behind schedule.

As the police officer approached, Rabbi Ginsberg rolled down his window. The
policeman looked into the car and said, “Did you study your page today?”

Rabbi Ginsberg was taken aback. He forced a smile and asked, “What do you
mean, sir ?”

The officer replied, “ I was working at MetLife yesterday and your people were
celebrating studying and completing pages. Did you study your page today?”

A bit embarrassed, Rabbi Ginsberg said, “Officer, it’s only 10:30 in the morning.
I haven’t studied it yet, but I plan to do it this afternoon.”

“Well, if you promise me that you’ll study the page today, I’ll let you off and
won’t give you a summons,” the officer said.

Rabbi Ginsberg, astonished, thanked the officer. The office then told him,
“Yesterday, one of my fellow officers at MetLife was so moved by your people
that he told me he wishes he were Jewish!”

“Why was that?” asked Rabbi Ginsberg.

The officer replied, “My friend said, “Can you imagine such a people? They study
a page and then celebrate it ? Other people make parties for other reasons,
some significant and some not so significant, but who ever heard of people
studying a page , understanding it, and then celebrating? That is so noble- I
wish I could be part of a nation like that.’ And then he added, ‘Tens of
thousands were singing and dancing and not one of them was drunk!”

And then the officer said something that Rabbi Ginsberg will never forget.
“Another officer told me, ‘They call this place, Giants Stadium, but today it was
really a Stadium of Giants!”

Sacred noble giants-we can each be among them.”

We are reading Parshios in Chumash Shemos that have a lot to do with Pesach.
Here is a story that begins with the Goldman’s Seder opening the door for
Eliyahu HaNavi.

From Hagadah Shel Pesach Night of Emunah by Rabbi Binyomin Pruzansky
Artscroll Series Mesorah Publications Ltd.Pages 87-90

“When the Ball Is in Your Court”

“The Seder meal was over and the Goldman family was happily launching into the closing segments of the night’s agenda. It was time to open the door for Eliyahu Havnavi as “Shefoch Chamascha” was recited. Young Yitzy was recruited to open the door. Full of faith that this year Eliyahu would indeed be there to herald the coming of Mashiach, Yitzy flung open the door. There, much to his shock, he stood face-to-face with a tall, skinny non-Jewish boy.

    Is that Eliyahu?” one of the children asked.

   “No, said Mr. Goldman. “That’s Kenny. He lives down the block.” Turning to the distressed-looking young man at the door, Mr. Goldman said, “Come on in, Kenny. What brings you over here?”

   “Well, I know it’s kind of late but when I got home from school today, I saw all kinds of stuff going on and I figured there was a Jewish holiday happening. So I was pretty sure you’d be up. I just had to get our of my house because my dad is in a crazy mood. He lost his job today, and when I came home, he was drunk and screaming at everyone. I walked around the neighborhood, for hours hoping he’d fall asleep, but when I went back a little while ago, he was still at it. I knew if I stuck around I’d get beat up, so I came over here.”

    Mr. Goldman gave Kenny something to eat and offered him a bed for the night. Then the family finished their Seder. Before Kenny left in the morning, he thanked the family with all his heart. “You really saved my life,” he said. “ I won’t forget it. “

    From then on, Kenny became a familiar visitor. He knew he could turn to the 

Goldmans when he needed help. He even developed a relationship with Yitzy and gave him some pointers to improve his basketball game. To Yitzy, Kenny seemed like a real pro.

    By the time Kenny got to high school, he was on his way to becoming a great basketball player. He practiced day and night and became the star of his team. As he progressed, college teams began sending scouts to watch him play. Soom he was receiving offers for scholarships to entice him to join a college team.

   But the scouts didn’t only want to meet Kenny. They wanted to visit his home and meet his parents as well. Knowing that this would be a disaster, Kenny asked the Goldmans if they would take his parent’s place and meet with the scouts in their home. They were happy to oblige. They met with the scouts and discussed with each of them the details of the scholarship arrangements and Kenny’s commitments to the college and the team. Then  they helped him choose a program.

   Whenever Kenny came home from college he would visit the Goldmans and update them on his rapidly rising career. Eventually, Kenny was drafted into the NBA. He was fulfilling his dream of playing professional basketball, and building a great name for himself in the sports world.

   One day, Kenny got a phone call from his mother informing him that his old friend Yitzy Goldman had been in a terrible car accident. She suggested that whenever he could get away, he should visit Yitzy in the hospital.

   Yitzy, who was 22 at the time, was teetering between life and death. His family held a vigil around his bed, davening and pouring out their hearts reciting Tehilim. His legs were so shattered that there was a doubt that he could ever walk again. A tangle of tubes supplied him with oxygen and hydration and mediation. In a flash, the Goldmans’ lives had been overturned and they could only try to cope as best as possible with this horrendous new reality.

   A few days later after Yitzy’s accident, much to the family’s amazement, Kenny appeared at the door of the hospital room. He had explained to his coach and teammates that his brother had been in a bad accident and he had to be there for him.

  As Kenny and the Goldmans were talking, they heard some commotion building up in the hall outside the room. Kenny was touched and surprised to see that the noise was the voices of a group of his teammates, who had come to support him in this trying time. But when they entered the room and saw a yeshiva bachur in the bed and a Jewish family around him, they felt they had been duped.

   “Kenny,” said one teammate, “ I may not know much, but I know this is not your brother.”

   “Well, he’s more than a brother,” Kenny explained, “ because everything I have today is because if this family. They opened their home to me and helped me out in every way they could.”

    After all the introductions were made, Kenny quietly asked Mr. Goldman for the details of Yitzy’s situation.

    “It’s not good,” Mr. Goldman said sadly. “The only hope for him walking again is to be transported to a trauma center that can operate and give him a chance. But it costs a fortune and it’s not covered by our insurance.”

    Kenny headed to where his teammates stood and invited them to join him out in the hall. The men huddled and conferred with each other in hushed tones. Then they rejoined the Goldmans in the hospital room.

  “Me and my friends will cover the cost of Yitzy’s transport and treatment,” Kenny announced. “Whatever the bill is, you just send it to us.”

   The Goldmans couldn’t believe the hashgachah pratis. Here was this young man whom they had taken into their room, not because they had any obligation do so, but just our of human kindness. Now, so many years later, he turned out to be the key to their son’s recovery from his crippling accident.

    Yitzy was flown to a specialty hospital where he underwent a long and delicate surgery. After many months of intense therapy, he was able to walk again.

    The door that the Goldmans had opened for Kenny changed his life, and that kindness eventually was repaid in full. It was paid forward as well, as Kenny told them that because of their example, he tried to open doors for others in need. 

    Some time later, Kenny told the Goldmans a funny story that emerged from his close relationship with the family. It was on Chol HaMoed Pesach, and Kenny was practicing before a game. A Jewish family had come to watch the practice, and when it was over, a young boy from the family asked Kenny to autograph a ball he had brought along.

    Kenny obliged, and as he handed it to the boy he said,” This is your afikomen present.”

    The boy’s mouth opened in surprise. “Hey! How do you know-“he started to say.

   “I know a lot more about you guys than you think,” he replied with a mysterious smile. And indeed he had learned a lot; he had learned that when the ball is in your court to do kindness, grab it and give it your very best shot.

  No one could have known that when Yitzy opened the door for Kenny that night ,it would lead to such a powerful kiddush H and would help open doors for Yitzy in ways he could never have imagined. Nothing is by chance. Rather, every occurrence offers a new opportunity to the call from Above to do something great.” 

There is much to learn from all of the amazing stories that we can incorporate
into our own lives. Our own Rabbis, Rebbetzins and Chaplains have many
stories and experiences they share with their congregants, patients and others.
There is no doubt my readership can share their own stories and experiences as
well as hashgacha pratis situations. Having midos tovos, is one of the very
important attributes we should all have.

I hope to share with you in my forthcoming Moments of Inspiration the
wonderful experience I had on Sunday January 22, 2023 participating in the
Yeshiva Torah Vodaath event with talmidim, their Rabbeim, Roshei Yeshiva,
parents and grandfathers. I also participated in a Mirrer Yeshiva event with the
talmidim, their Rabbeim, Roshei Yeshiva, parents and grandfathers on Sunday
January 15 th , 2023.


May we be zoche to have all of the midos tovos
that will bring Mashiach speedily in our days.

Thank you. Sincerely, Rabbi Yehuda Blank