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 June 1, 2023, Sivan 12, 5783===

The other side of the bed Part 4
Personal Reflections

Faith Emunah- Betachon Trust
Loneliness and Emptiness
Joy, Happiness, Meaning of Life.
The importance of greeting others -Greeting every person.


Tefillos of hope.

The time has come for the next step of my recovery. I share my personal reflections for my audience to have an opportunity to feel as I did three years ago when I shared the last months of my wife’s life, my experiences of grief and bereavement, and how I was able to continue with positivity as a widower. After the shiva, especially during the pandemic, it was very lonely, but my life felt empty without the love of my life of 27 years. Yet, as I have mentioned numerous times, I was able to bounce back in life with fulfillment in all that I was doing and continued to do through the years thereafter.

I finally looked forward to the day I would gain relief after months of pain. I was not fearful of having the surgery, but concerned about what recovery would be like afterwards. It brought back memories of what it was like on “the other side of the bed” as a rabbi and as a chaplain knowing the concerns of patients I would minister to. There are many well-known and outstanding Sub-Acute facilities in the New York City area. However, I was familiar with the many attributes about Gouverneur in my own neighborhood. I looked forward to a meaningful recovery. I am grateful to the staff of the different departments who were very kind. I also want to acknowledge Rabbi Yossie Rosenbaum’s friendly visits to me and other patients. It was very nice having relatives, friends and neighbors coming to visit me especially on Shabbos and Yom Tov. The Kosher food that was available for me to order was very good. Some of the choices were Ribeye steak, Salisbury steak, pot roast, which was roast beef, roast chicken, eggplant parmesan, baked ziti, stuffed cabbage, filet of sole and filet of salmon. All came with side dishes. Challah rolls and grape juice were provided for Shabbos and Yom Tov. I also received a large slice of cheesecake in honor of Shavuos that was delicious. I enjoyed the many opportunities of having meaningful and friendly interactions with other patients and the staff from diverse backgrounds as I mentioned in my last article. One example is an elderly woman of Asian descent who I would wave to whenever she would pass by my room or in the hallway. She would wave back at me. I even had the staff translate into Cantonese and I in turn learned some words to say. Whenever we would see each other, she would give me a big smile. When I woke up in the morning, I greeted a nurse or CNA with a hello, a good morning and a thank you to show her how much I appreciated what she would be doing for me. I often would receive a compliment that I am a kind and nice person. Hearing from some of the staff how they will miss me is a wonderful feeling. It is truly rewarding to be a goodwill ambassador of H and Klal Yisrael, making a Kiddush H. Greeting one and all with a sincere smile is very important. On Friday, I went with a therapist from PT and a therapist from OT for a walk outdoors. This was an opportunity for the rehab team to evaluate my progress and to see how I could manage on the various types of sidewalks including crossing a major street. It was the first time outdoors since I entered the hospital for my surgery on May 1st. Come to think of it, I have been away for one month.


From Relevance Pirke Avos for the Twenty-First Century by Rabbi Dan Roth A project of Torah Live Feldheim Publishers http://www.torahlive.com

“Greeting Every Person” (Pages 170-171)

“Besides emphasizing how to greet others-namely, being the first one, Chazal also emphasize whom to greet. They didn’t say to greet just your friends or acquaintances, but to greet every person. This includes the people we tend not to notice or who we may feel are not included in this instruction, like bus drivers, street cleaners, and security guards. We may feel too important-or perhaps too busy or self-absorbed-to stop and wish these people a good day. Instead, we pass them by as if they don’t exist.

We would do well to learn from the example of Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakkai.

Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakai was the preeminent Sage during the last years of the Second Temple. He was thoroughly versed in every area of Torah knowledge-Mishneh, Gemara, halacha-and even understood the speech of angels and demons. He was the nasi, which was the highest-ranking position attainable amongst the Jewish people at that time and was responsible for all communal needs of his generation. When an emissary was needed to speak to the Roman authorities on behalf of the Jewish people, it was Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakai who went.

And yet, despite his high rank and prestige, the Gemara says that Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakkai never failed to greet other people first-including the non-Jews in the marketplace. Had the Gemara said that he always returned people’s greetings-no matter who greeted him or how busy he was-that in itself would have been impressive. But the Gemara doesn’t say that. It says that he greeted others first, and not only that, it says he always did so!

There must have been times when he was in a rush for an important meeting and didn’t feel like stopping to wish passersby a good morning. Yet he never allowed his own concerns to prevent him from saying hello. The Romans he passed in the marketplace were also probably not the kind of people he wanted to befriend. Thus, if anyone could ever have felt that he was too important a person to bother greeting others, it was Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakkai as he passed people well below his spiritual and intellectual level. Nevertheless, he still greeted them. We too, should emulate him and greet everyone courteously, no matter how important or busy we think we are.


“The Far-Reaching Effects of a Hello”

If Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakkai made such an effort to greet people, it was because he realized the significance of this seemingly minor act. Wishing someone a good morning shows that you acknowledge who he or she is. In a world where people are often not appreciated enough, you are giving the message that you recognize the other person’s existence and see it as something of worth. This simple message can be very powerful.

During his morning walks it was the rabbi’s custom to greet every man, woman and child whom he met on his way with a warm smile and a cordial “Good morning.” Over the years, the rabbi became acquainted with many of his fellow townspeople this way and would always greet them by their proper title and name.”

I should be excited to return home and start getting back to a normal routine. I will be busy with lots of things to do, appointments to make and of course to continue with outpatient therapy. I am grateful to family and friends offering any assistance to help. It is a wonderful feeling knowing they are available. Still, I am going home to a lonely apartment. The recent yartzeit of my wife brought back some of those same feelings. I am keeping busy with my articles, a seminar coming up. Having hope, emunah and betachon in H is very important and helpful. It is ok to shed a tear now and then. Crying to the Ribono shel Olam is ok. After all He is our Heilika Tatte. I love the Ribono shel Olam and know how much He loves me. Thinking positive thoughts is very important. I remember that my wife a”h would say that the next day will be a better day. If she could have so much emunah and betachon, can I. I do not live in the past. Her inspiration was to look forward to the future with simchas hachaim. I therefore do not look back with negative feelings but rather seek opportunities to enhance my quality of life in the future. I intend to bring joy, and good feelings to others because that gives me simchas hachaim. I had wonderful visitors, rather than kvetching, I shared stories which made them smile and made me feel good. When they left, I was filled with joy and appreciated their visits immensely. Davening, being mispallel to H, doing all kinds of mitzvos, learning, Tehillim, saying brachos, were all meaningful to me. I looked forward to the many challenges I encountered. In a way, it reminded me of the various challenges Avaraham Avinu encountered. Of course, I am not comparing myself to Avraham Avinu, but in a sense every challenge a person encounters is a learning experience. I am looking forward to attending minyan, going for a walk, shopping and cooking once again and of course returning to attending in person shiurim. I continue to look forward to my activities with the RAA and seeking new venues, all in due time, slowly and surely with the help of the Ribono shel Olam. We must never forget H is in charge of the world.


(Another page from a CPE group. Author unknown).

  1. Hope is looking beyond the past and present, towards the future.
  2. If the past and the present is kind of dark, the future could be bright.
  3. If the past and present is the kind that pulls us down and makes us depressed, a bright future lifts up our spirits.
  4. This is why hope has many positive results:
    4a) It gives us courage and energy to keep going forward.
    4b) It makes us feel better, so we cope better with the present.
    4c) It gives us self-confidence, we perform our tasks better.
  5. The opposite of hope is hopelessness.
  6. Hopelessness prevents us to look positively to a brighter future.
  7. When one is hopeless, he is apt to say: “it’s no use trying” or “I’ll never make it” etc.
  8. Hope results in courage. Hopelessness discouragement.
  9. Hope is positive. Hopelessness is negative.
  10. There are two ways to look at a cup filled halfway.
    Hopeful Gee! It’s half full. Hopelessness Shucks It’s half empty!
    It’s exactly the same cup. Just two ways to look at it!
  11. It looks half-empty if we take the half-full for granted.
  12. In the U.S.A. we are blessed with many blessings.
  13. If we take the blessings for granted, we focus on the half-empty.
  14. If we don’t take blessings for granted, we go on half-full.
  15. If we believe in G and rely on Him and trust Him, it is then much easier to trust that the future will be brighter, and that G will help us get there, especially if we do our part through honest efforts.

This is one of many tefilos that includes hope.
We recite it on Shabbos and Yom Tov before Ein Keilo kei nu
“Kavei el H- Hope to H.”

“Hope to H, strengthen yourself and He will give you courage; and hope to H. There is none holy as H, for there is none beside You, and there is no Rock like our G. For who is a g beside H, and who is a Rock except for our G.” (Translation Artscroll Siddur Mesorah Publications Ltd.)

Modim Anachnu Lach

We thank You for it is You Who are H our G (continued) Your miracles that every day are with us; and for Your wonders and favors that are at all times evening, morning, and afternoon. The Beneficent One, for never exhausted are Your compassions, and the Compassionate One, for nevers ended are Your kindnesses always have we put our hope in You.”

May our love to H, our hope in H and His love for us always continue with strength, day after day, night after night. May He shower all of us with His kindness. May our prayers of hope continue to remain strong. May we find favor and goodness in each other. May we be zoche to the geula sheleima bekarov Amein Sela.

Sincerely, Rabbi Yehuda Blank