Rabbi Yehuda (Leonard) Blank MS, BCC
Vice President of Professional Development and External Affairs
Rabbinical Alliance of America/Igud HaRabbonim
==Thursday May 4, 2023, Iyar 13, 5783==
Another wonderful act of achdus and hope
at an Israeli restaurant.
Removing doubts from our lives. Having strong faith in H.
Kiddush H and not Chillul H.
We cannot give up hope.
The importance of not making assumptions.
The key to good relations.
Where do you get your chius?
Reb Dovid zt”l, caring for others without any doubts.
Right-wing activist Guy Levy visited Bnei Brak on Yom HaZikaron with his soldier son and was moved by the reception he received in the city.
“So following the demonization of our Chareidi brothers in the last few days [referring to calls by some people that Chaeidi MKs would not be welcome at Yom HaZikaron ceremonies], I took my oldest son to the ceremony in Bnei Brak,” Levy wrote on Twitter. “The ceremony was moving but the real amazing and personal experience happened a few minutes later.”
“At the end of the ceremony, my son [dressed in uniform] and I went to a local restaurant named Muchan U’Muzman on Rechov Chazon Ish. I won’t lie – on the way, I asked myself: ‘Will I meet someone from a slightly different sector who will comment on my son?’”
“But the reality was exactly the opposite and it was simply amazing! We entered the restaurant and the staff greeted us as if they were waiting for us all week. This included a salute from one of the workers, smiles, brachos, and a wonderful feeling of respect.”
“When we bought the food, the owners of the restaurant refused to let me pay for my son’s meal. When we sat down at a table with four Chareidim, one of them got up and then came back three minutes later with a disappointed look on his face. It turned out that he also wanted to surprise us and pay for the soldier’s food but he discovered that ‘they already took away the zechus and mitzvah.’”
“My son hasn’t been received anywhere in the country with such respect and appreciation – only because he wearing an army uniform- and no one cared that he wasn’t even wearing a kipah.”
“After long days of despair and fears of division and exclusion, I saw that after all the disputes, we can be one people. I left Bnei Brak with a lot of hope.”
(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)
From Rav Pam on Chumash by Rabbi Sholom Smith Artscroll Series Mesorah Publications Ltd. Parshas Acharei Mos Page 137 “Rabbeinu Yonah in Shaarei Teshucah (1:47) also has a method to repair the damage caused by chillul H. He writes that this can be done in two ways- by acts of chesed, and pursuit of emes, as expressed in the study of Torah. He infers this from the pasuk, Through kindness and truth will sin be forgiven (Mishlei 16:6). The two great attributes of H- chesed and emes- are the hallmarks of the Jewish people, and their performance brings kiddush H in its wake. This rectifies the sin of chillul H, which is usually caused when Jews do not behave kindly or honestly in their interaction with others, whether fellow Jews or non-Jews.”
From Shabbos with Rav Pam by Rabbi Sholom Smith Artscroll Series Mesorah Publications Ltd, Parshas Kedoshim Page 168 “Betzedek Tishpot Amisecha is the cornerstone of all good midos and the key to good relations with one’s spouse, children, family members, friends, and neighbors, business associates, and everyone with whom one comes into contact. It may seem difficult to always judge others favorably, but in contemplating the inherent greatness and kedusha in a Jewish soul, the task would be much easier.”
From Rabbi Frand on the Parsha by Rabbi Yissocher Frand Artscroll Series, Mesorah Publications Ltd. Parshas Acharei Mos Pageas 172-173 “The Gerrer Rebbe offers a chassidishe interpretation of this phrase, “vechai bahem, that you shall live by them.” What do we call “living by them”?
In the yeshiva world, one often hears the question, “Where do you get your chius?” Literally, this means, “Where do you get your life?” The question touches on a profound issue. Where do you find the spark of life? What brightens up your day when you get out of bed in the morning? What excites you? What gives you the zest for life? For some people, it is the prospect of learning Torah. For others, it is the opportunity to do some good work in Jewish outreach. And for yet others, it is the prospect of a good steak or a good game of baseball.
This, says the Gerrer Rebbe, is what the Torah is telling us. A person should “live by the mitzvos.” His chius, his zest for life, should derive from the prospect of doing mitzvos. These should be the entire raison d’etre for his existence in this fleeting material world.
Before you turn around, your life in this world is over, even if you were blessed with a ripe old age. It is all a dream, an illusion. You cannot look for the meaning of life in this world, only in the eternal World of Truth, and only mitzvos will bring you there. Only mitzvos will give you an everlasting, meaningful life.
You should never seek to accumulate money for its own sake. What will it get you? A little extra pleasure in this world? Is that life? Is that where you are expecting to find your chius? You should work as much as you have to in order to provide a livelihood for your family, but you should seek your chius from doing mitzvos and chessed with your wife and children, your family, your community, all the Jewish people. You should seek your chius in the Torah. You should seek your chius in building a close relationship with the Master of the Universe. That is the key to eternal life.”
We deal with patients, with mispallim with men, women, children of all ages from diverse backgrounds of Judaism and those who are not Jewish. Our tafkid, our chius is to be mekadeish H, to use all of our skills, our knowledge, our wisdom in bringing goodness and kindness to this world of ours. The Torah is our blueprint and our guide. Our love for the Ribono shel Olam and desire to do our best with Ahavas H, Ahavas Torah, Yiras Shamayim and Ahavas Yisroel is of utmost importance. We must always be sincere not just to others, but to ourselves. H knows what is in our hearts and what are in our thoughts. All the gemilus chasadim we do for others should be with sincerity, with emes, with truthfulness. Most of all, our gemilus chasadim should not be based on what’s in it for me, but how we can truly help others- especially in their time of need.
We should not assume, and surely not be judgmental about other people. Chaplains come across many from diverse cultural, ethnic and religious backgrounds. Their needs are as diverse as can be. A chaplain ministers without any preconceived thoughts about that person. The chaplain does so with a full heart wanting to be in the present and to be helpful as best as possible. The same could be said about the thousands of men and women who are involved in all types of tzarchei tzibur. The same can also be said about Rabbonim and Rebbetzins whose mispallim and community residents can be from those who have all kinds of challenges in life from the very poor to the very affluent. I have witnessed Rav Dovid Feinstein zt”l giving respect in very honorable ways to those who seek his advice whatever it may have been. One of the interesting stories in the Reb Dovid book by Yisroel Besser Artscroll Series, Mesorah Publications Ltd. Page 176 One day in March 2020, he asked a close talmid to please drive him to a federal penitentiary four hours from New York. The left at dawn in order to make it for visiting hours, the Rosh Yeshiva davening in the car, b’yechidus-for him, the ultimate sacrifice.
He did not know the prisoner, but he had heard his story. The inmate had been fighting with another person and accidentally took his life. Following the horrible crime, the family of this prisoner had cut off ties with him and he languished in prison without any visitors, or even mail or phone calls from the outside world.
A person cannot exist without hope, and the thought of this prisoner and his hopeless existence allowed Reb Dovid no peace. He needed to go visit him, sit with him and let him know that someone cared.
The Rosh Yeshiva was ninety years old, carrying the burden of many, but there was a lonely Jew who needed a friend. (Incidentally, the very next day the first wave of Covid restrictions were implemented across America, and the prison was closed to visitors. Reb Dovid had made it just in time to speak words of encouragement and impart hope to the prisoner.)
A talmid was considering starting an organization to help advocate for Jewish prisoners, and he sought Reb Dovid’s advice. “It will not be easy,” the Rosh Yeshiva said, “and you will get plenty of flack for it. But if you stick with it ,”he concluded, “it will be your ticket to Olam Haba.”
(Page 185-186)During the last years of his life, Reb Dovid was no longer attending weddings, aside from family simchos. Someone he did not know came to invite him to a wedding.
The man explained that his son was engaged to a girl from an unconventional background, and he presented documents from various rabbanim to show that her yichus was impeccable.
Reb Dovid understood what the man was really asking. The father was worried that down the road, someone might cast aspersions on his daughter-in-law’s lineage, and they would ask who had officiated at the wedding. When they would learn that Rav Dovid Feinstein had been mesader kiddushim, that would be a clear sign to them that there were no halachic issues.
“Sure I will come, it would be an honor,” Reb Dovid said.
Every page I read from Reb Dovid about Rav Dovid Feinstein zt”l brings me back to the many interactions I had with him through the years. What is unique about this book, it “mamesh” flows nonstop from one scene to the next about Rav Dovid. I heard this from others,” if only my stories and pictures could have been included in this book.” If that would be possible, Yisroel Besser would have to write many volumes.
From the Stone Edition Chumash Vayikra Parshas Kedoshim Page 120 “Love your fellow. Veahavta lereiecha kamocha. You shall love your fellow as yourself. From the Stone Edition Chumash Vayikra Kedoshim “How to love another.” “HaKsav V’HaKabbalah offers a list of realistic examples of how one can fulfill this commandment in ways that are possible. (a) Your affection for others should be real, not feigned. (b) Always treat others with respect. (c) Always seek the best for them. (d) Join in their pain. (e) Greet them with friendliness. (f) Give them the benefit of the doubt. (g) Assist them physically, even in matters that are not very difficult. (h) Be ready to assist with small or moderate loans and gifts.(i) Do not consider yourself better than them.”
- Life is composed of certainties and doubts.
- We are sure of certain things: the sun rising, the physical laws of nature.
- But we have doubts about many things: When will the war in Iraq end? Will terrorists attack us again? When will I get healed.
- There are 2 types of doubts:
4a) Doubts we’re not very concerned about:
Example: Is there another earth in another galaxy?
4b) Doubts that concern us very much (as in #3).
- Things we are certain about (doubt-free) give us a sense of stability.
- Things we have doubts about give us a sense of instability.
- Doubt can be compared to a scale that can be balanced either way.
- We feel safer with stable situations that are predictable.
- Sudden changes can sometimes overwhelm us, for they affect our stability.
- There are many areas of our lives in which we need stability.
10a) Financial stability.
10b) Family relationship stability.
10c) Health stability.
10d) Stability through G and meaning in life.
- Stability gives a senses of security; instability =====➔ lack of security.
- If we don’t have stability in the items #10, we might feel insecure and stressed out.
- Doubt is like a dark cloud; certainty is like a ray of light.
- Having strong faith in G helps us have:
14a) Stability in our life
14b) Feeling secure.
14c) Removing doubts from our life.
There is no doubt the zechusim Klal Yisroel has with all the mitzvos that are done on a daily basis. We truly know about the chius. Our love for the Ribono shel Olam knows no bounds. We are mispallel to Him to give us the koach to continue doing all the righteous things He wants us to do.
From my CPE . Author UK.
Sincerely yours. Rabbi Yehuda Blank