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 April 20, 2023, Nisan 29, 5783<>=<>=<>=<>

Achdus, Unity, Ambassadors of H. Emunah and Betachon

Feelings from our hearts.

Personal Reflections 

A forthcoming seminar for Chaplains, Rabbis, Rebbetzins, Healthcare and
Professionals dedicated to Rabbi David Keehn, zt’l a dear chaver, colleague and
member of the Chaplaincy Commissions.
“Halachic Challenges of the Orthodox Jewish Healthcare Chaplains”

Rabbi Keehn was truly a professional healthcare chaplain and humanitarian Par excellence. He loved his profession, he loved Klal Yisrael, he loved caring for others of all backgrounds, he loved his family and most of all, he loved the Ribono shel Olam. In countless ways, he was Mekadeish H. Rabbi Keehn was respected by his colleagues. He was devoted to his community. He was a non-stop walking Kiddush H person, doing gemilus chasadim, as a chaplain, a rabbi, a president and later on as vice president of the Queens Jewish Community Council. His reputation preceded him wherever he went and whatever he did. What was so spectacular about Rabbi Keehn which many were not aware of that he was legally blind. He was truly a remarkable person and was able to be successful in whatever he did. He was a magnificent role model as a Jew, a rabbi, a chaplain, a member of the community, as a husband, a father, a friend, and as a mentor. Of the many acknowledgements and praises he received through the years; he also received the distinguished Orthodox Jewish Healthcare Chaplain of the Year Award from the Rabbinical Council of America.   He truly brought much pride to the RCA, the RAA, to Klal Yisrael, to his wife and family. 

The forthcoming seminar is being held in the largest Young Israel synagogue with a membership of over two thousand. Rav Shalom Axelrod is the Mora D’ Asra and Rabbi Dr. Aaron Glatt is the Associate Rabbi. Rabbi Glatt is also the Director of Medical Halacha for the RAA. He is also a distinguished member of the RCA and one of the leading physicians in the United States of America sought after for his expertise in his field as well as in medical halacha. Rav Mordechai Willig shlita is a well-known Rosh Yeshiva at Yeshiva University, Rav of the Young Israel of Riverdale and Chair of the Vaad Halacha of the National Council of Young Israel. Rav Willig and Rabbi Dr. Glatt will be responding to questions on various topics sent to them prior to the seminar. 

I celebrated this recent Pesach with my dear mishpacha but once again without an Aishis Chayil, Keila Lutza bas Shalom Hakohen A”H. I was blessed to have had a wonderful and dear friend, a chavrusah and a mentor who I learned so much from throughout the years of our marriage. I share this with my readership, for there is much a husband and a wife can learn from each other. Her third yahrzeit will be the first day of Shavous and I must say, my home is still void and the feeling of emptiness without her presence. Her wisdom, her sincerity, her kindness, her sweetness, her uplifting spirit was constant, and her knowledge was remarkable. She was my copilot and so much joy and happiness sharing things together, doing things together and going places together. Caring for her was an honor and a privilege. I have often included in my bracha to a chasan and kallah whenever requested to speak, that the excitement and chein they both have for each other presently should continue for many years to come. Being able to care for one’s spouse, looking forward to sharing the meaning of life with each other should never be taken for granted. Love is not something that happens overnight. It is an emotion of wanting to care for each other with respect and sincerity.  Appreciation for one’s spouse is so important. The most important relationship was between us and the Ribono shel Olam.  Avraham Avinu and Sarah Imeinu had a wonderful relationship with each other, and their relationship with the Ribono shel Olam was immensely special. There is much to learn from them even after all these thousands of years. I saw this from my Rebbe, Rav Dovid Feinstein zt”l who was a tremendous role model in his lamdus, his midos, his gadlus and as a husband to his Rebbetzin, a father to his children, a zaidy to his grandchildren and as a Rebbe to his talmidim. My grief and bereavement ended a long time ago. There is much simchas hachaim for all the positivity I have, but the void and there is a feeling of emptiness not having an Ashish Chayil is a reality especially for the joy and happiness she brought me and our mishpacha. Life does go on and new horizons open up. A person must look towards the future and not get stuck in the past. It is with that simchas hachaim we can all strive to be mechazik others with energetic positivity. Having emunah and betachon in the Ribono shel Olam seeking positive ways for the present and the future is important. We are mispallel to Our Holy Father, our Heilika Tatte, for the important things in life. As chaplains, rabbis and rebbetzins, we are there to help others in their time of need, during their challenges and sharing with others their happiness. We all from time to time have our bakashos to say to H. We all must strive to find our moments of inspiration that will give the boost in life we all need. 

There is a song we sing on Simchas Torah which is a pasuk in the tefilla of Vehi Noam recited at Maariv Motzei Shabbos during the year. Baruch Hu Elo-keinu shebira-anu lichvodo, vehivdilanu min hatoim, venasan lanu Toras emes, vechayei olam nata be Samcheinu. Blessed is He our G, Who created us for His glory, and separated us from those who stray, and gave us the Torah of truth, an life eternal implanted within us.” With all the strife, and challenges happening in the world, we are grateful and always must remember that Our Father in Heaven is protecting and guiding us with His Torah. However, Klal Yisrael must always strive to want to be in His midst and be protected with His Torah. We must remain strong and steadfast in our beliefs. Being ambassadors of the Ribono shel Olam and of Klal Yisrael takes determination and desire. 

From the Haggadah Shel Pesach Magid Harakiah Rav Daniel Glatstein on the Haggadah Artscroll Series Mesorah Publications Ltd. Pages 164- 167 “Achdus.” “Achdus, unity, is one of the most fundamental principles in Judaism. It is of such paramount importance to the Ribono shel Olam that its absence prompted the destruction of the Second Beis Hamikdash. However, as important as it is, this concept is often misunderstood.

Why is it so important to H that we all live in harmony? Why can’t I serve H in my own domain and you in yours? Let every Jew observe the mitzvos on his own and avoid violating any aveiros. Why is it necessary that we have a sense of unity and friendship?

Of course, H loathes bickering and discord. But why would it not be sufficient if everyone were to peacefully and amicably go their separate ways and we were to all live our individual lives? Why must we positively like each other?

Achdus, Jewish unity, is much more than a nebulous feeling of togetherness. Achdus is critical to the very essence of being a member of Am H, G’s Nation, and comprises an essential component of the makeup of the Jewish people.

“The Ambassadors of G” The Mesillas Yesharim writes that it is impossible for H’s honor to be magnified except through the redemption of the Jewish people and through their honor. It is only when Klal Yisrael is redeemed and elevated that H’s honor can be properly exalted and magnified. Therefore, it emerges that the honor of the Jewish people and the kavod of H are dependent on each other. 

The Jewish people are H’s ambassadors, representing and reflecting, His Name throughout the world. In light of this role, it is our duty to be the lens through which the rest of the world views H; we are the prism through which they perceive the Creator. Conversely, whenever Klal Yisrael’s honor is debased and they are in a downtrodden state, H’s honor is similarly degraded.

An illustration of this concept is manifest in the tefillah we recite three times a day in Shemoneh Esrei: Atah Kadosh veshimcha kadosh, ukedoshim bechal yom yehaleluka selah, You are holy and Your Name is holy, and holy ones praise You every day, forever. H and His Name are holy, and therefore the Jewish people are holy as well. In summary, we reflect the holiness of G.

H Echud. The most fundamental concept of Judaism is Achdus H. There is only one G. This crucial tenet is articulated in the first sentence of the Shema. Shema does not mean only “to listen”; it also means “to gather together.” Shema Yisrael: Unify Israel as one. The Sefer Chareidim cites the pasuk, vayishama Shaul es ha am, Shaul had all the people summoned (I Shmuel 15:4). When we gather together, our state of unity reflects “H Elokeinu, H Echad”; that is, H, our G, is One. The Vilna Gaon likewise interprets the words “Shema Yisrael” as a call for the Jewish people to unite, in order to unify the Name of H.

 As H’s ambassadors to the world, we must embody and reflect this unity in order to portray H’s Oneness to the world. H’s being One, being Echud, is promulgated to the world through the display of our unity.

This idea is also enunciated in the Shemoneh Esrei of Minchah on Shabbos: Ata Echad veshimcha Echad, umikeamcha Yisrael goi Echad ba aretz. This sentence begins by stating that H is One and His name is One, and then concluded that the same is true of the Jewish people.

Since H is One, the same is true of His ambassadors to the world. They reflect H’s singularity. In contrast, when there is discord among the Jewish people, H as it were, is perceived as fragmented as well.

Jewish cohesiveness is not meant purely for the betterment of our society, but more significantly, it conveys H’s identity to the world. Jewish achdus proclaims to the entire world that H Echud!”

Achdus in a marriage is important. A couple must want that unity. Loving kindness with true sincerity is not a one-time deal. That desire to care for each other, to respect each other and to want to share happiness, true simchas hachaim is up to both the husband and the wife. It is not only if she wants it, or he wants it. They both should want it- togetherness, echad as one, with achdus.

Rabbi David Keehn knew the true meaning of achdus. He was a remarkable role model for Klal Yisrael, always finding solutions of bringing a situation of machlokes to an environment of shalom. He helped bring people together and ministered to his patients with kindness as he did with the multitudes of people, he dealt with in his many positions. 

We all can enhance Am Yisrael Chai we can all have Chaveirim Kol Yisrael. We all can make the reality of having Achdus in Klal Yisrael as Rabbi Leo Dee spoke publicly as a zechus for his wife and daughters A”H. We can all be instrumental in helping to bring Shalom Al Yisrael and the arrival of Mashiach in our lifetimes. We must have feelings from our hearts. We must have emunah and betachon-faith and trust in the Ribono shel Olam not just for now but forever. 

The Gentle Weapon
Prayers for Everyday and Not-So-Everyday Moments
Rebbe Nachman of Breslov
Jewish Lights Publishing

“G of wonders,
You’ve given me
the most wonderful
of all gifts ———
the gift of free will.
May my will never deviate
From Your holy Will.
Guide me always,
so that all the choices I make
are good ones——–
choices that are
in harmony with Your Will,
as long as I live.”
Thank you. Sincerely, Rabbi Yehuda Blank.

Please click on this link to register: https://tinyurl.com/HCOJHC