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 May 25, 2023, Sivan 5, 5783===
Erev Shavuos
From the other side of the bed Part 3

The importance of Kiddush H.

The importance of developing a meaningful, respectful
and sincere relationship with all staff.

The importance of sincerity.

The importance of knowing when to be
meikel and when to be machmer.

The importance of knowing what to discuss with medical, nursing and
rehab therapy staff about one’s diagnosis and goals of care.

The importance of knowing how to address concerns about what is permitted, what can and should be doing, how to find alternatives, how to ensure one is doing what is not just appropriate but needed
on Shabbos and Yom Tov.

The importance of giving encouragement.
How to look forward to Shabbos
internally, emotionally and spiritually.

The love the Ribono shel Olam has for Klal Yisrael.

Rav Moshe Feinstein zt”l reviewing a homework assignment
with a talmid.

The Chafetz Chaim’s response to his daughter.

Rav Dovid Feinstein’s zt”l psak for a laboratory.

Prepared to sign on Shabbos.
Another example of knowing what to do.

A connection with Moshe Rabbeinu every day.

A personal reflection to carry on Keila Lutza bas Shalom Hakohens a”h
wishes as we reflect on her third yartzeit the first day of Shavuos.

Having a good relationship with the medical, nursing and rehab staff can only prove to be meaningful. Being polite, courteous, friendly, and appreciative is very important. Putting one’s right foot forward, giving a good impression can and will go a long way and you will be seen as a wonderful, goodwill ambassador. However, it is beneficial for a patient to know his or her diagnosis, and goals of care. Communication between patients and staff is important. What is truly vital is never to speak with anger, say words that are inappropriate or to put someone on the defensive. The goal is to learn how to collaborate and work together. If there is a misunderstanding, then offer to better understand what the staff is hoping to accomplish on the patient’s behalf. It is also beneficial to clarify a patient’s concerns. Having worked in the healthcare system, I have often met patients and or family members who become frustrated and convey their thoughts and feelings in a negative way. In most cases, the patient should be their own advocate or a family members should express their concerns with kindness and a friendly demeanor. Not only are we making a good impression, but we can also help enhance the quality of care for other patients.

Being encouraging and positive and just having a light discussion giving the patient an opportunity to share his or her feelings is helpful. Rabbi Paysach Krohn in one of his featured articles wrote about the importance of listening. Listening and not feeling the need to give advice is of utmost importance and can help in a patient’s recovery. Rabbi Yehuda Kelemer zt”l of the Young Israel of West Hemstead was a phenomenal Rav. I personally had the zchus of knowing him and was in awe of how he could be in so many places at what seemed the same time. He knew when to listen, when to offer advice, when and how to paskin. He understood a patient’s needs as well as those of family members and care givers. He gave the right touch of encouragement.

I have found it tremendously rewarding to develop a meaningful relationship with staff and supervisors. Through the years, I have had the opportunities of working in positions that were multi- cultural, multi- ethnic, multi- linguistic and with multi-spiritual backgrounds. I personally find much pleasure and rewarding interacting with others in the facility I am regardless of their different languages is very rewarding. or backgrounds. Having staff teach me words is very rewarding. I also enjoy spending time with English speaking patients . I am honored to have received sweet comments from staff and patients. I am just doing what I find meaningful in life, making a Kiddush H.

I would like to share what I have observed in the rehab therapy gym. Professional therapists give remarkable care to patients, adults of diverse ages, languages and backgrounds. They provide therapy to help patients/residents get back to their prior level of function and help improve their quality of life. Observing the gentleness and sensitivity is heartwarming. What I found truly special is the hope the elderly have and are given regardless of their age to retain to the best of their ability whatever functionality is possible. They are not elderly people who are frail, they are elderly people with a will to go on in life as best as possible. While in the rehab gym I have such a meaningful opportunity of interacting with wonderful staff, but especially with other patients. I find it so rewarding sharing how inspirational many are, giving a smile or a friendly greeting. The response has been very positive. Personally, it has uplifted my spirits. Being a goodwill ambassador gives me immense satisfaction and phenomenal opportunities of Kiddush H.

There are numerous questions a patient might ask or not even think of asking until it is too late to call his/her rabbi or chaplain because the Shabbos has begun. Some of the questions are using the call bell, requesting opening and closing lights, the automatic light in a bathroom that goes on when someone enters the doorway, the automatic soap dispenser? When having rehab in the gym can equipment be used that might go on with the touch of a button, but no other electrical connection? There is also equipment which even if a staff person turns the switch on that monitors distance covered, mileage, heartrate and other information. A patient might have questions about using the electric bed controls, food being heated up, opening containers. A patient might have questions about davening if there is a drainage bag or urinal. A patient might have questions about davening in bed and be concerned about what to do if the nurse wants to give medications or ask questions during davening. There might be questions about washing negel vasser, washing before davening or after having moved one’s bowels or passing water. Where to wash how to wash or should a patient in certain situations wash at all? There might be questions about donning a talis, tefillin and the talis katan. Of course, there might be hundreds of other questions one takes for granted under normal circumstances and in everyday life. I have not offered any solutions in this article as it is not meant to be a source of what to do. I surely do not mind speaking to someone seeking advice, but a patient or care givers should seek the advice of their own rabbi or chaplain. Often, female patients feel comfortable seeking the advice of their rebbetezins.

It is helpful to be in a good frame of mind emotionally and spiritually preparing for Shabbos and Yom Tov no matter what facility a patient will be in. Of course, a lot must depend on a patient’s condition, what she/ he is capable of doing. Are there any restrictions regarding types of food, beverages or Shabbos nosh ? It would be helpful having reading materials, sefarim, talis, making Kiddush and Havdalah. Does the patient request Shabbos candles such as the battery operated? Here is an interesting question about a patient in a hospital setting for instance where there are two in a room, and one patient is watching TV, can the Jewish patient also watch without feeling guilty. One Shabbos, I accidently pressed the TV button. I was very tempted to enjoy watching TV. I was grateful when one of the staff shut it off. It was very boring. There are hundreds of other shailos to consider, which I have not discussed.

From the Stone Chumash Artscroll Series, Mesorah Publications Ltd.
Parshas Bamidbar: Census in the Wilderness. Rambam (v45) offers three reasons that G wanted them to be counted. The following are two of them. The love H has for Klal Yisrael. (page 2)
The miraculous growth of the nation, which had come to Egypt as a family of only seventy people but two hundred and ten years before, showed conclusively that G loved them very much. So too did the need to count them after every significant loss of life. Every Jew is important to G.

Each member of the nation had a right to benefit from the personal attention of Moses and Aaron, and the census was a great opportunity for every Jew who came before “the father of the prophets and his brother, the holy one of G” to tell them his name and to be counted as an individual of personal worth. Surely Moses and Aaron would bless them and pray for them, and the half shekel contribution would bring them atonement.”

Rav Dovid Feinstein’s zt”l psak for a laboratory.
An example of knowing how to Paskin.

The following are from Tefilas Hashelah A parent’s timeless prayer-composed by Rabbi Yeshayah Halevi Horowitz of Prague with translation, commentary, and stories. By Yisroel Besser Artscoll Series, Mesorah Publications Ltd. (Pages 45-46)
“Uvishvil Yisrael – And for the sake of Yisrael. The word vishvil does not only mean for the sake of, but also that it was created so we might fulfill our mission, a responsibility to the entire world resting upon every member of Klal Yisrael.

As part pf a settlement with a delinquent creditor, a shomer Torah u’mitzvos businessman assumed control of a testing laboratory that the creditor had owned. The laboratory served the wider pharmaceutical industry; various medications were sent to this laboratory to ensure that the components were precise and accurate to that which was printed on the bottle.

Until that point, the laboratory had been open on Shabbos, and the new owner, unfamiliar with the business, had no idea how to proceed. He was very eager for a psak that would tell him to close the laboratory on Shabbos, feeling that this would give the business an extra measure of beracha, and he went to discuss it with Rav Dovid Feinstein.

He described the operations at the laboratory and explained that it was the site at which testing was conducted for a broad range of drugs and medications.

Rav Dovid listened, then spoke. “Ensuring the efficiency of these medications crosses into the realm of pikuach nefesh, and you should do whatever you can to make sure that your service is superior, so that as many pharmaceutical companies as possible will use your laboratory.”

And when the Rosh Yeshiva explained that this was not a business decision.

“This is a place that can save lives, and who, if not Klal Yisrael, should care about pikuach nefesh?” he asked.

In regard to Shabbos, the Rosh Yeshiva suggested that he use a heter mechirah and keep the facility open on Shabbos, in order to ensure that as many lives as possible would be saved. (Like virtually all his halachic rulings, it was issued specifically for this questioner, in this situation.)

It was only later that the businessman learned how rare it was for Rav Dovid to suggest using a heter mechirah to remain open on Shabbos-but as the Rosh Yeshiva had said. Who should care about human life if not those charged with uplifting all of creation?

We raise our children with an awareness of the responsibility they carry and the power they hold, asking that they live in a way that allows them to fulfill this mission. The entirety of this world is here bishvil Yisrael so that we might elevate it and make it a better place.”

Rav Moshe Feinstein zt”l reviewing a homework assignment
with a talmid. (Pages 62-63)

“For the purpose of they and I-all of us-will occupy ourselves in Your holy Torah to learn, teach, safeguard, perform and fulfill all the words of Your Torah’s teaching with love.

One evening, Rav Moshe Feinstein sat in his seat at the front of the beis medrash of Mesivtha Tifereth Jerusalem writing in his notebook.

A few benches over, a young boy sat by himself, waiting for the older bachur with whom he had arranged to learn. Minutes passed, but the older bachur did not show.

The boy had a test the next day and he panicked, unsure how he would prepare the material. Desperate, he approached the only other person he knew in the room, Rav Moshe, and asked for help with his homework.

Rav Moshe drew the boy close, welcoming him to sit at his side and going through the review sheets with him.

A talmid noticed this, and after the boy left, the talmid approached the Rosh Yeshiva with a question.

“Is the Rosh Yeshiva, who is carrying the burden of the generation, whose every moment is so precious, obligated in this as well? Could he not have asked one of the other bachurim in the beis medrash to help the young boy prepare for his Chumash test?

Rav Moshe heard the question. “Each morning,” he replied, “before Krias Shema, we ask H to open our hearts to His Torah, so that we may learn and teach it to others, lilmod ulelamed. When I made that request this morning, I did not make conditions with Him that I would only share Torah with accomplished talmidei chachamim and seasoned scholars, nor did I set limits on what time of day I would be available to teach: I asked H to let me learn and teach His Torah, and ah kindt vil lernen di Aibishter’s Torah, a child comes asking me to learn with him. Is this not a fulfillment of my tefilah?”

We ask for a connection with Torah, children who love the Torah enough to learn it but enough to want to share it with others as well, lilmod ulelamed.”

The Chafetz Chaim’s response to his daughter.
The importance of our bakashos – our tefilos to H (Pages 60-61)

And so, too, may I come to You and cast my supplications. My eyes are fixed upon You…

We use different terms for tefillah-I come to You, I cast my supplications, and my eyes are fixed upon You.

The Chafetz Chaim’s daughter was experiencing a difficult situation. When she told her father about it, he asked if she had davened for help.

She replied that she did, but she had not yet been helped.

The Chofetz Chaim asked her how she had davened.

She said that she told the Ribbono shel Olam to help her.

“That’s not a tefillah,” her father replied, “that’s giving advice to the Ribbono shel Olam. He does not need eitzos. Instead. You should ask, plead and beg for mercy, because that is a tefillah.”

In this tefillah, we do not merely express our hopes, or even ask: we plead, we supplicate, and we beg, ensuring that our efforts are laced with tefillah.”

Prepared to sign on Shabbos.
Another example of knowing what to do.
From Tales & Teachings from the Daf.
Yated Ne’eman (Page 62) May 19, 2023

“On this daf, we find a leniency regarding writing on Shabbos.

Rav Gedaliah Moshe Goldman, the rebbe of Zvhil, spent over seven years in Siberia. One Shabbos, he and an elderly prisoner were summoned to the camp commandant’s office.

“You are free to leave as soon as you sign your release forms,” he said.

The rebbe struggled with himself. On the one hand, it is forbidden to write on Shabbos. On the other, perhaps this is a case of pikuach nefesh and he must sign. After a moment’s consideration, the rebbe concluded that his situation was not life threatening; after all, he had survived until now. He refused to sign.

“You’re not signing the release?” exclaimed the incredulous commandant. “That’s fine with me. As far as I’m concerned, you can sit here forever!”

The commandant then turned to the elderly Jew and said,” You are free to go as soon as you sign your release form.”

He too refused to sign, but the rebbe intervened.

“I am prepared to sign for my companion so he can go free,” he exclaimed.

The commandant was perplexed. “I don’t understand. Why can you sign for your friend’s release, but not for your own?”

The rebbe answered, “I can’t sign for myself, since I may only violate the Shabbos if my life is clearly in danger, and I don’t believe it is. He, however, is elderly. He has no chance of surviving if he remains here much longer. Therefore, I must certainly sign to save his life.”

The commandant was dumbfounded. “You’ll sign for him, but not to save yourself? That’s incredible! You can both leave without signing!” (Zichronam Livrocha)

Everyday whenever we recite Bircas HaMazon Bircas Hazan Haberacha Rishonah . Bircas HaMazon comprises four blessings, of which the first three are Scripturally ordained and the fourth was instituted by the Sages. The first blessing was, as noted above, composed by Moses in gratitude for the manna with which G sustained Israel daily in the Wilderness (Berachos 48b). For that reason, it precedes Nodeh, the Blessing for the Land, even though it might seem more logical to thank G first for the land that produces food (Bayis Chadash).

In the seventh of the Ani Mamins many recite every day during the week. “I believe with faith that is complete that the prophecy of Moses our teacher peace be upon him was true, and that he was the father of the prophets, [both] those who preceded him and those who came after him.”

It is 5 months of going through difficult and very challenging times pre surgery and post-surgery. I must say I have tremendous appreciation to the Ribono shel Olam. My love for Him is great and my emunah and betachon as strong as possible. Yet, there are moments when faith can be shaky. My bakashos are very helpful as they bring my kesher with H closer. This week on Shavuos will be my wife Keila Lutza bas Shalom Hakohen a”h yartzeit. I am grateful to Hakadosh Baruch Hu for whatever accomplishments I have made these past three years since her petira. She wanted very much for me and the entire family to continue to be helpful to Klal Yisrael and many other maysim tovim we were doing. Our entire family mission has been to continue her remarkable emunah, faith and love in H which knew no bounds and to care for everyone no matter what one’s background might be. She wanted us to have simchas hachaim, go on in life with joy, happiness and to look at life with positivity. She was and continues to be an inspiration not just to me, our mishpacha, but for Klal Yisroel. She always found such joy, happiness in being mekadeish H and always finding goodness in others. She was a very kind and caring person. She was proud and filled with simcha to have completed saying the entire Omer. Her last mitzvos were to recite the blessings on the Yom Tov candles of Shavuos. May she continue to be a melitza yeshara for her entire mishpacha and Klal Yisroel who will continue her mesorah.

May the Yom Tov of Shavuos be filled with the Kedusha of our Torah
and delicious dairy delights.

Sincerely, Rabbi Yehuda Blank