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, February 9 ,2023 Shevat 18, 5783<->

Achdus – an important message from Rav Bentzion Kook.
Simcha Atzumah – another way of looking at Emunah.
from Rabbi Moshe Garfinkel .

“Bein Adam L’chaveiro”
from HaRav Chaim Kanievsky zt”l by Rav Gedaliah Honigsberg
The importance of Torah, being caring, patient, understanding of
others and the importance of a smile.

“Unconditional Love” by Rabbi Binyomin Pruzansky
Rav Bentzion Kook: “When Our Community Unites,
The Hatred Against Us Will Stop”

A group of visitors from Lakewood who arrived on a Yarchei Kallah in Eretz Yisroel heard divrei chizuk at the residence of Rav Bentzion Hakohein Kook, Rosh Bais Horaah Haklali.

Rav Kook remarked: “When disputes and quarrels multiply among us…until G forbid people insult and humiliate each other, one community against another, and even drag the disputes inside their homes, an atmosphere of discord is created…and because of this, the haters of Klal Yisroel raise their heads against the chareidim l’devar Hashem. And if, G forbid, the matter does not stop, and the internal disputes continue, even the hatred of the nations of Eisav…increases.”

He added that “recently, it became known that the UN mission requested to investigate a plot about the killing of Palestinian children for organ trafficking. This is disturbing and reminds us of the dark days of blood libels against Jews.”

“Although these days the libel about using gentile blood for matzoh will no longer be accepted, the story is changed a bit…

“Unfortunately, we are already used to this kind of thing, since in all our years of exile we have suffered from it.”

He added, “We must try to look at the good things in others and ignoring their shortcomings, and measure for measure, the hatred of our enemies will be removed from us.”

{Matzav.com Israel}February 2, 2023


From Rabbi Moshe Garfinkel, Rebbe in the Lakewood Cheder as seen in the Yated Ne’eman February 3, 23 Letter to the Editor section (Page 18)

“ In Sefer Ruach Shlomo, Rav Shlomo Wolbe zt”l writes in the name of the Maharal (in Parshas Chukas) that Emunah brings simcha. Rav Wolbe quotes a Mechilta which says that in the zechus of Emunah, Klal Yisroel merited to sing the shirah, as the posuk says, “Vaya’ aminu,” and then Az Yoshir.

Based on the Maharal, it is very geshmak, because Emunah brings simcha and the shira came from the simcha. When we lain these parshiyos of Yetzias Mitzrayim, it is the perfect time for us to strengthen our Emunah and thereby increase our simcha.

There is a beautiful siddur, Tehillas Yonah, with peirushim from the Yesod Veshoresh Ha’avodah. There are two words that are mentioned many times over and over again, What are those two words? “simcha atzumah.” It is hard for me to give the exact definition in English for these two words. I looked in the Sefer Yesod Veshoresh Ha’avodah and without counting, it seems that these words are mentioned hundreds of times. These words simcha atzumah, can be found on almost every single page of the sefer. This is the way to daven, serve H, and do all the mitzvos.

At the recent beautiful bar mitzvah of Nochum Hillel Zeldes, Rav Aryeh Malkiel Kotler asked why the bar mitzvah boy should be so happy if he is becoming obligated in so many mitzvos and responsibilities? According to the Yesod Veshoresh Ha’avodah, it is very geshmak. Serving H demands carrying a yoke is indeed a great responsibility, but it is filled with simcha atzmuah. There is no greater joy and satisfaction in the world. And how does one come to have simcha atzmuah in his avodas H? It all comes from lebedike Emunah, living with H: v’tzaddik be’emunaso yichyeh. Emunah creates the simcha atzmuah to learn Torah, daven and do all the mitzvos properly.

Wishing lebedike Emunah and simcha atzmuah to all. Sincerely, Rabbi Moshe Garfinkel, Lakewood, NJ.” (Rabbi Garfinkel often contributes Torah thoughts to the Letters to the Editor section in the Yated Ne’eman).


From “Bracha V’Hatzlachah” Anecdotes, Advice, Hanhagos, Brachos, and Segulos of Maran Sar HaTorah HaRav Chaim Kanievskly zt”l by Rav Gedaliah Honigsberg Israel Bookshop Publications. Adapted from Minchas Todah.

“ Someone asked the Rav about the Yerushalmi (Rosh Hashanah end of chapter 4) which says the Torah atones as though one never sinned. However, Rabbeinu Yonah (Avos 3:16) explains that teshuvah does not erase sin without a trace. Rav Chaim said,” Torah is different in that it is powerful enough to atone completely.”(Page 34)

Orchos Yosher pp60-61

“There are those who answer their friends in a manner of mocking and leitzanus, and even to those greater than them.(cont)

Even in this world, one who imitates and pokes fun at others will eventually be imitated and ridicules wherever he goes, for H acts with us measure for measure. (cont.) Everyone loves and respects a person who treats others with endearment and answers respectfully and politely even to those younger that himself ( which is a kiddush H – see Rambam, Yesodei HaTorah end of chapter 5). As it says in Pirkei Avos chapter 4, ‘Who is respected? He who respects others.

Most importantly, one must become accustomed to thinking about what he is saying.” (Page 292)

Orchos Yosher p65 “ If one is smitten with bad middos, none of his Torah and wisdom will stand for him. Any G fearing Jew- not only a talmid chacham- who had good midos and behaves properly is a kiddush H. Happy is he who merits to overlook his own middos and thereby to sanctify H’s name.” (292-293)
“Orchos Yosher pp 70-71 Pirkei Avos (1:15) says, Receive every person with a cheerful countenance, “Every person” includes everyone-even someone you can’t stand; greet him as well with a smile.

We see that truly great people receive every person with a smile and patience. (Other then in specific instances where it is necessary to tell someone off.) This is a kiddush H through which one merits all of the virtues named by Chazal and is granted ruach hakodesh, as it says in Avoda Zarah 20b, Humility brings ruach hakodesh.

Someone related that he had been the recipient of Rav Chaim’s sensitive attention as a child. He had wanted to ask the Rav a question before Ma’ariv on Motzei Shabbos and was standing and waiting for his chance, when an adult pushed him aside and asked his own question. The child left. After Ma’ariv, standing among a group of his friends, he felt a hand on his back. He turned and was astonished to see the Rav gazing down at him. Rav Chaim inquired kindly of the boy “What did you want to ask?”

“ It is beautiful to watch how the Rav receives an elderly visitor, even a simple Jew. Even without knowing the man, he asks him so patiently and lovingly to have a seat, Usually Rav Chaim tries to hurry visitors along during the visiting hour, but when this man is seated Rav Chaim asks him how he is, and the man tells him about his pains here and there and Rav Chaim patiently blesses him over and over with a refuah sheleimah. Then he asks for a brachah for his great-grandchildren to get married, and for livelihood for one of his children, and that his wife should be healthy….Rav Chaim gives him brachah after brachah very respectfully, even though he doesn’t know him, and the man is not a talmid chacham.”

“Patience for simple questions. People often come to Rav Chaim with simple questions, but Rav Chaim never dismisses anyone. He gives each visitor his time an attention, whether he’s explaining complex sugyos in Taharos or giving advice about a dental treatment, Someone came to the Rav saying he had a toothache and the dentist found a cavity that needs to be filled, but dental work was expensive. Now that it stopped hurting, should he postpone the treatment in the hope that he won’t need it? Rav Chaim said to him, “You don’t want it to hurt do you? Take care of it now, before the pain returns.”

“Sensitivity” “Rav Chaim was once looking for a certain individual for whom tzedakah funds had been collected. Once as he was being driven down Rechov Rashbam, they spotted the man and stopped. Rav Chaim told him he had something to give him, but then he grew silent and just waited. The others in the car realized that he was waiting for them to leave, which they did quickly, and Rav Chaim invited the man to sit beside him in the car for a minute. Only when the doors were closed, did he hand him the envelope.”(296-299)


The following is a very moving and touching true story.

From Haggadah shel Pesach Night of Emunah by Rabbi Binyomin Pruzansky Artscroll Series Mesorah Publications Ltd. Unconditional Love Pages 24-26

One of the most fundamental lessons we learn from our Seder is that of the Four Sons. There are many different types of children and it may be more difficult to be mechanech some than others.

Unfortunately, there are children who aren’t interested in attending the Seder at all. It is our responsibility to make sure that every child feels our love and warmth, that every child has a place in our heart and at our table. We may not have all the answers but one thing is sure when you love your child, it makes an impact. You may not see the change. It may seem as if he doesn’t even care, but deep down inside of him, a seed is being nurtured.

I would like to share an incredible story that Rav Yaakov Bender related at a gathering dealing with chinuch in today’s turbulent times.

The famed gadol b’Torah, Rav Shimon Shkop, had a granddaughter named Faiga who did not follow in his footsteps. When she was 8 years old, her mother passed away and Rav Shimon took her into his home. Although she grew up in a home that was permeated with Torah, she was taken in by popular trends and ideas of her time. She joined a Zionist movement in her town and eventually became part of the movement’s national council.

Despite her grandfather’s anguish at her leaving behind Torah and mitzvos, she continued to live in his home and he continued to love her unconditionally. In 1929, when she was 20 years old, she moved to Eretz Yisrael. She became active in the underground, married, and in 1948, joined the first Knesset on behalf of the Mapam party.

Rav Shimon kept up with his granddaughter and wrote her many letters, which she lovingly saved in a special box. After Rav Shimon’s wife passed away, he wrote his granddaughter the following letter, which gives us a glimpse into the interaction between the two, and its impact on her life.

To my granddaughter Faiga, Shalom U’v’rachah,
Your short words were shown to me and touched my heart. I was with her until the last minute of her life, and painful thoughts still occur to me that perhaps she is still alive…for the ways of nature are astounding, and one must exert effort and let time pass to set emunah in one’s heart, because even the straightest seichel can’t effect the heart to change its natural emotions, and only the passage of time helps.

But we must try as much as possible to hear the dictates of the seichel. We shouldn’t pluck the chords of our hearts in a matter that will bring no benefit to us or others. Only we must believe in Chazal, that we can benefit those who passed away by doing good deeds and actions for the deceased is a worthy and exalted thing.

How I wish you too would believe this and do a good deed and chesed with those alive and those dead. This would bring me solace in my great heartbreak.
Your grandfather who seeks that happiness of all our family,
Shimon Yehuda Shkop

Although Faiga was distant from her grandfather in regard to her ideologies, she always felt close to him and over the years always spoke lovingly of him.

Incredibly, when she passed away several years ago, she asked that no mention be made on her matzeivah of her serving in the Knesset, nor did she want any mention of her service in the Haganah and her efforts to rebuild the land. The only thing she wanted mentioned as her lasting legacy was that she was the granddaughter of the Gaon B’Yisrael, the Rosh Yeshiva of Shaar HaTorah of Grodno, Rav Shimon Yehuda HaKohen Shkop.

The love her grandfather imparted to her stayed with Faiga for a lifetime. The most important gift we as parents can give our children, which they will always cherish, is our unconditional love for them.”


From A Handbook of Jewish Thoughts by Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan zt”l 
Moznaim Publishing Corporation .

“When a person truly loves G, all worldly passions, riches and honors are as nothing compared to this love. The Psalmist thus sang, “Whom have I in heaven but You? And having You, I desire nothing else on earth” (Psalms 73:25). Although love for G exceeds all else, one should avoid asceticism as a way of life. Our sages therefore teach us that it is forbidden to abstain from the pleasures of this world completely. The way of the righteous is to us even worldly things as a means to bring themselves closer to G.”

“One who brings others to G by setting a good example is also considered to have fulfilled the commandment of Kiddush H, literally “sanctification of the Name.” This is what G meant when He said, “ I shall be sanctified among the children of Israel” ( Leviticus 22:32), which means that the Jewish people are to publicize the greatness of G and His Torah.”

“ There is no reward greater than that of one who serves G out of love. We are taught that the reward for a commandment observed with love is twice that of one without love. No accuser on high can speak evil against one who truly loves G. The reward for such love comes directly from G Himself.”


Rav Chaim was one of the great Gedolim of our time. His hasmodah and depth in Torah was immense. He showed by example his sensitivity and care for other Yeddin whether they be children, adults of all ages, from those who were not knowledgeable in Torah learning to Talmidei Chachamim. His own emunah was great and he conveyed how much Klal Yisroel benefits from our Torah. The Torah is not just meant to be studied, but to be inculcated in our lives.

We see from Rabbi Garfinkel the essence of Emunah which brings us much simcha and simcha atzumah. Also the wonderful zechusim and the geshmakeit of the many mitzvos we do and the tefilos we daven. There is much to glean from Emunah and from what he shares with us.

We learn from Rabbi Pruzansky’s story of Unconditional Love, what is so important in life. The love for our children, family members, our friends, neighbors and others no matter what their background might be. The love they had for each other. Rabbi Shkop’s strong message is for everyone to take to heart. Often, people put an emphasis on “kleinekeiten” insignificant things, or what they feel is more important than plain good old fashion ‘ I really love you with all of my heart.” That is what is truly important in life and in relationships.

We learn from Rabbi Kaplan the love we should have for the Ribono shel Olam that goes beyond any other love in this world. We accomplish it through our Torah and our mitzvos.

Rabbis, Rebbetzins and Chaplains are not therapists, but have many golden opportunities of helping those who are struggling with the essence and meaning of life, relationships, and emunah. Reading about the sensitivities, the care, the genuine concern for others, the kindness and goodness of Rav Chaim Kanievsky, Rav Shimon Shkop and other Gedolim who are role models for us all. It is also important to note how we perceive others and to do so with respect, and not with an I am “holier than thou” attitude, or I know more than you do. It is important to have a positive and caring demeanor. That smile can and will go a long way. Being sincere is always of utmost importance.


From the back of the Maimonides’ Principles The Fundamentals of Jewish Faith
by Aryeh Kaplan. NCSY-OU The Orthodox Union.

About Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan: “ Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan’s meteoric rise as one of the most effective, persuasive, scholarly and prolific exponents of Judaism in the English language came to an abrupt end on January 28, 1983- Yud Daled Shevat, 5743 with his sudden death at the age of 48. Rabbi Kaplan was a multi-faceted, uniquely creative and talented author. In the course of a writing career spanning only 12 years, Aryeh Kaplan became known to Jewish youth and adult readers for such books as the Waters of Eden, the Mystery of the Mikvah, Sabbath-Day of Eternity, G, Man and Tefillin, The Light Beyond, The Handbook of Jewish Thought, The Living Torah, Chasidic Masters, Maimonides’ Principles, a clear, contemporary translation of the Five Books of Moses and others as well. (His yartzeit was Erev Tu b’ Shevat).

Rabbi Kaplan was born in New York City and was educated in Torah Voda’as and in the Mir Yeshivos in Brooklyn, After years of study at Jerusalem’s Mir Yeshiva, he was ordained by some of Israel’s foremost rabbinic authorities. He also earned a Master’s degree in physics and was listed in Who’s Who in Physics in the United States.

Aryeh Kaplan’s unusual warmth, sincerity and total dedication to Torah were an inspiration to the thousands he reached personally. In the process of bringing Torah to the masses, Rabbi Kaplan revealed much of which was previously hidden. His mind contained libraries of books, waiting to be put into writing. It was the will of the Lord that so much be revealed and no more.”

I was fortunate to have known Rabbi Kaplan who was truly an amazing person and remarkably humble. He was able to converse with others whose levels of knowledge and education were diverse both from the secular world and the Torah world. His mesorah continues with the many publications he was involved in. Some of those publications are mentioned above. He was also involved with the well known Yalkut Me’em Lo’ez-The Torah Anthology which he was able to complete 12 volumes during his lifetime. His mesorah also continues through his Rebbetzin sol zin gezundt, wonderful children and entire mishpacha. I am also proud to have one of his sons Shimon Kaplan as one of my son-in-law, married to my daughter Esther. The Yartzeit of Rabbi Kaplan was observed by family members and others at his kever which is on Har Zeisim.

May the neshamah of Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan ,
Rav Aryeh Moshe Eliyahu ben Shmuel zt”l
be a Meilitz Yosher for his family and Klal Yisroel.

Thank you. Sincerely, Rabbi Yehuda Blank