Rabbi Yehuda (Leonard) Blank MS, BCC
Vice President of Professional Development and External Affairs
Rabbinical Alliance of America/Igud HaRabbonim
* Thursday June 29, 2023, Tammuz 3, 5783*
Accepting One’s Role in Life.
Finding happiness in today’s world of turmoil.
Emunah and Bitachon.
Praying for another even if you don’t know that person. A story of
hashgacha pratis and emunah. A story from Rabbi Yoel Gold.
The joy of learning, the joy of sharing our Halachos.
A Kiddush H just from bowls of soup that fell on my suit jacket and pants.
Types Of Fear- Believing in the Higher Power.
Important things can happen from one second to the next.
One never knows what H has planned for us.
We cannot give up hope.
A beautiful story from Rabbi Nachman Seltzer from Zera Shimshon.
Rabbi Yosef Viener mentioned the following at a Memorial Day Hakhel Event (these are just several of his quotes from the Flatbush Jewish Journal June 22, 2023) “ In the zechus of avoseinu (merits of our forefathers) at Har Sinai where our forefathers accepted [for all future generations] the Torah nasa v’nishma (before we even knew what was expected of us,) H rewarded us with rachamim (abounding mercies). This Rabbi Viener said teaches us for the need to develop bitachon (trust in H). A young man recently told Rabbi Viener that he was involved with a shidduch (a matrimonial match) and that if the woman nixed it, he would feel very depressed. The truth is that if the shidduch works out successfully it really is from H and we are only blessed with siyate di’shamaya after we go through our motions of hishtadlus (seemingly logical efforts). And even if the shidduch does fail, it too is from H.”
From Divrei Sholom “A Torah Guide to a Peaceful Life” Volume One by Rabbi Sholom Reuven Feinstein shlita . Published and distributed by W Group Publishing. Pages 334-336 “Accepting One’s Role in Life” “In order for one to find true happiness and satisfaction in this world, he must be ready to accept the role H has designated for him.
For one not to be jealous of his fellow man, he needs to accept and be happy with his lot in life. One must also learn to have an ayin tova a “good eye.” One should look at his peers in a positive manner, he should not begrudge them their happiness in life. We opened this shiur discussing the importance of avoiding sinas chinam. One cannot be consumed with baseless hatred for others and still expect to find happiness.
H prepares everyone for some kind of future role, where, if they attain the madreigah He wants them to reach, they will find satisfaction and have a positive impact on the world around him.
(continued) We are avdei H, servants of H. He has placed each of us in our precise situation in life because that is where He wants us to fill our roles. It is as if H says to each one of us, I need you here! I need your situation to look like this! If you are poor, it is because I need you to be poor. If you are smart, it is because I need you to be smart. If you are not smart, it is because for your role that is what I need you to be. Our response has to be, H if this is where You need me, I will do as You ask. Whatever You need from me, I am here for You. There is no room to have complaints or grudges against anyone, because H placed you where He needs you. If your perspective is that H is “picking on you,” then you may be tempted to complain, but if you realize that H put you where you are because He needs you where you are, then one is not even tempted to complain. Quite the opposite: What a great honor it is to fill the desire of your Creator! This mindset can help you to get through difficult times and to deal with life’s many challenges.
If we work on recognizing these principles, we will be satisfied with our situation in life. Once we reach that level of being truly sameiach bechelko, happy with our lot, we won’t have hatred or jealousy of others. Then, H can bring back the Beis HaMikdash speedily in our days, and we will once again have the korbanos to help atone for our sins. May we be zoche that H bring Mashiach Tzidkeinu speedily in our days.” (To order or for information about the Rosh Yeshiva of Staten Island Yeshiva, Rav Feinstien’s shlita Divrei Sholom or his set of five volumes of his Devrei Torah email Darcheisholom@gmail.com . His 6th volume of Nahar Sholom will also soon be available.)
From the Author’s Introduction of Mesillat Yesharim .The Path of The Just by Moshe Chaim Luzzatto from the English translation by Sharaga Silverstein Feldhem Publishers “Walking in His ways” embodies the whole area of cultivation and correction of character traits. As our Sages of blessed memory have explained. “As He is merciful, be also merciful…” The essence of all this is that a person conforms to all of his traits and all the varieties of his actions to what is just and ethical. Our Sages of blessed memory have thus summarized the idea (Avoth 2.1): “All that is praiseworthy in its doer and brings praise to him from others;” that is, all that leads to the end of true good, namely strengthening of Torah and furthering of brotherliness.”
“Emunah on the Menue ” From Haggadah shel Pesach Night of Emunah by Rabbi Binyomin Pruzansky. Artscroll Series Published by Mesorah Publications Ltd. Pages 125-128. Rabbi Yoel Gold related this heartwarming story about the feeling of H’s closeness that we have when H’s hashgacha pratis is reveled to us.
On a trip to Israel to Israel, my Aunt Betsy and Uncle Simon were visiting Hertzeliya. They decided to go out to eat at a local restaurant located near the water. It was a beautiful two -story restaurant, and they were seated at a downstairs table, but my aunt wasn’t happy with their location. At her request, they were moved to a table upstairs. There, they met their waiter, Barak, who reviewed the menu options with them and walked away, giving them time to consider their order.
“We have to find out what his mother’s name is,” my aunt immediately told my uncle, “Barak. That is the name we have posted on our refrigerator. Wouldn’t it be something if…?”
My uncle called the waiter back. “Excuse me,” he said, ‘ but could you tell us what your mother’s name is?”
“It’s Orna,” Barak answered. “Why?”
“Did you fight in the Gaza war?” Uncle Simon asked.
“Yes, how did you know?” Barak asked.
“Because your name is on my fridge,” answered my aunt.
“You see, during the war, we had a program where the names of soldiers were given out to people who wanted to daven for them. When I called, the name I was given was Barak ben Orna.”
My aunt told me that two weeks earlier, she had been in her kitchen in Beverly Hills and noticed Barak’s name. Even though the war was over, she began to pray for him. Then she said to H, “I don’t even know if this soldier is alive. I wish I could meet him and see how he is doing.”
A mere two weeks later, she just “happened” to be in Israel, to visit Hertzeliya, to eat at this restaurant, and to move to an upstairs seat-all so that she could have Barak as her waiter! She felt that H was so near.
Barak too, was moved, “When I realized that there was someone praying for me all the time, hoping that I would come home safely, it strengthened my emunah,” he said. The next day Barak put on tefillin for the first time in years. He, too, felt that H was so near after seeing the hashgacha that brought him and my aunt together in the same place at the same time.”
We don’t always know what H has in store for us, but with emunah and bitachon we know we are on the right path for there is no other way but His way. There is so much turmoil in the world, but our sanity can be kept in check with our undivided love of H and the knowledge of how much He loves us. Having trust even when the going gets tough or challenging, we must not just believe but know ultimately that He knows what is best for us.
If you looked at pictures of Rav Dovid Feinstein zt”l especially when learning, you will often see such a serene smile on his face of divine pleasure. For those who watched the recent seminar Halachic Challenges of the Orthodox Healthcare Chaplains, the constant smile on Rav Mordechai Willig’s shlita face was beaming with joy and pleasure responding to the various shailos asked of him. The same with Rabbi Dr. Aaron Glatt MD. Just looking at their holy faces, beaming with such pleasure discussing H’s Torah was so meaningful. Rabbis, rebbetzins and chaplains are sheluchim of the Ribono shel Olam and what we say and what we do can have a tremendous impact on other people’s lives, Jewish and non-Jewish. The Kiddush H we often make is important. Making a Kiddush H is not something that is always planned and often when we least expect the opportunity to occur. Whenever that opportunity does occur, we should thank the Ribono shel Olam for giving us that special chance especially when it might have occurred at the spur of the moment.
I would like to share a personal example. Baruch H, I was able to attend the chasunah of a granddaughter this past Thursday evening. In fact, it was the first simcha I have attended in a long time. At the table I was sitting at the waiter was collecting the soup bowls many still with the contents inside. As he was standing next to me, he made a sudden move and the tray of bowls with all their contents came tumbling down on top of me spilling their contents on my suit jacket and pants. Everyone at the table and some who were standing nearby were watching. The waiter was flabbergasted telling me how sorry he was repeatedly. What he did not expect was my calm response telling him it was an accident and that I forgave him. He kept coming over to me again and again. And each time he said he was sorry. I told him the same thing each time that it was an accident, and I forgave him. He most probably was expecting a totally different response from me. Did I make a Kiddush H? I hope so! At least those who witnessed what happened told me so. Internally, I gave thanks to the Ribono shel Olam for having given me that unexpected opportunity of making a Kiddush H and for my having kept my cool and calm saying the right things to the waiter. Baruch H at least the incident did not happen when the bowls were filled with hot soup. There is much to be thankful for.
For those who read my “On the other side of the bed” parts 1- 6, might wonder how things have gone with me since then. Well Baruch H I graduated from a walker to a cane and with the psak of my PT, I was the given the go ahead to enjoy the wedding. I even walked to the chupah for a bracha and joined the family for a slow dance and then I danced with the Chasan himself. Rather having looked back with remorse all these past months, I give thanks to Hakadosh Baruch Hu for every “step of the way” and all the fantastic opportunities of Kiddush H throughout these months. I am so grateful for the achudus I have been part of in all the collaborations leading up to the successful seminar. Most of all, I am grateful for having my laptop not just for the work I have been doing, but for all the hours of learning Torah made possible. Even when I was in the sub-acute, my laptop was my office and my gateway to shiurim. Were there any components of fear? Read on the following also from my CPE. (Author unknown). We never know what the future holds in store for us. Having emunah and betachon is important.
“Types Of Fear”
- There are all types of fear.
- The words “I’m afraid that…” are sometimes used too loosely.
- The main aspect of fear is fear of what the future holds.
- When we’re caught in a danger in the present, fear can turn into panic. At such a time, we must stay cool and not panic.
- Sometimes, fear can be about the past; we are afraid about traumas of the past coming up to haunt us as flashbacks.
- Worry is a form of fear; we’re afraid about what the future holds, so we worry about it, and become anxious.
- Examples: We’re afraid of, and worry about: terrorists; bombs exploding; running our of money; health worsening etc.
- In some ways, fear is helpful when it keeps us away from dangerous situations: fire, flood prediction, bad weather report etc….
- Fear of the law and the consequences of crime and fraud keep us straight. We’re afraid to get caught and go to prison.
- The more we feel that the world runs in a haphazard way, and an unpredictable way, the more we fear.
- The more we believe that G “pulls the strings” and controls all the details of this world, the less we are afraid of the future.
- The more we believe that the Higher Power who created this world has a plan for this world, and that He won’t let a bunch of evil nuts bring destruction to this world and His plan, the more confidence we will have that things will turn out well, and the less we will worry.
- The more we believe that there is reason and meaning when someone reaches out to seek our help, that more we will be inclined to say “Sure, I’ll see what I can do for you” rather than: “I’m afraid I can’t help you, friend!”
From Zera Shimshon Volume 2 by Rabbi Nachman Seltzer “Just like a Korban” Parshas Nasso Pages 292- 399. “Manoach said to the angel of H, “Please let us keep you here and we will make for you a kid goat.” The angel of H said to Manoach, “If you detain me, I will not eat your bread and if you offer a burnt offering, it should go up to H…” Manoach did not know that he was an angel of H.”
The Navi tells us that Manoach and his wife desperately wanted a child. That was their dream. No doubt it was the first thing they thought of when they woke up in the morning and the last thing they thought about before falling asleep at night. And then one day the angel appeared to them, and their lives changed: just like that, from one second to the next. Because sometimes a second is all it takes.”
Rabbi Seltzer tells a story of a man who wanted to become a doctor but did not succeed to become one. (continued) “Now that I knew what type of person, I wasn’t it was time to find out the kind of person I was. I needed to decide what it was that I wanted to do with my time. Right away an idea jumped out at me. I had always been a literary person. I enjoyed reading and writing.” He eventually found some positions but nothing that this person was happy with nor was he making much money. He was not the person who gives up hope. “You’ll see, Chaim Asher, I told myself. Something’s going to change. It’s a matter of time. I told this to myself over and over, and then one day it actually happened.
(continued) If H doesn’t want a person to see something, he won’t, even if that thing is lying on a New York street. As I looked at the money that had suddenly appeared in my life, a thought occurred to me. I was holding eighty dollars in my hand. The gematria of eighty equals the Hebrew word od,” more” which spelled ayin-vav-dalet. May my discovery of this money herald changes that were about to happen in my life. Maybe H had decreed that my days of pounding the pavement were about to become nothing more than a distant memory and that I would receive additional bounty from His outstretched hand.
At that moment I was filled with a confidence I hadn’t had since the days I had fondly imagined following my parents into the field of medicine. It was as if I had received a personal message from the Master of the world, and I wanted to take full advantage of it.
I looked around me, wondering. What should I be doing next? To my shock I couldn’t help noticing that I was standing right in front of the offices of a major Jewish publication !”
Well, you could imagine what happened next. He landed a great job, was an editor of a fine publication, eventually gained admission to a prestigious university for journalism, was hired as a reporter for one of the biggest newspapers in the United States, and eventually became an author of a book published to great acclaim and now working on his second book.
“The path that has taken me to where I am today has been at times winding and confusing. But in retrospect, I’ve ended up in the exact position I need to be able to maximize my potential and creativity and the natural talents I have been blessed with.
Of course, I can never forget that moment when everything changed: the moment I found the money, the money that I interpreted as a sign from the Above, and the incredible feeling of “od”, more, that it conveyed. More potential, more opportunities, more creativity, more success.
So, my friend, that’s what I wanted to tell all of you out there. You may be stuck right now. It may be a time when things aren’t working out for you the way you envisioned your life. But that’s okay. Because there’s a plan that’s tailor-made for you just waiting to happen. You only have to let it.”
May we be zoche to find and appreciate all that H does for us and to be able to imbue and inculcate all of our Yiddishkeit to all those who we minister to. May the stories and chizuk I shared with you inspire my readers with the love of our fellow Jews and all human beings no matter what their background might be.
Sincerely, Rabbi Yehuda Blank
As I was concluding writing this article, a UPS man came to my apartment door to pick up a box for a return. I asked him if he would like a drink and he said thank you but no. I asked if he would like an orange and he said yes with a smile. I gave him two oranges with a few napkins. He smiled again and said thank you. Was that a Kiddush H? I hope so, but I did so because I wanted to be nice to him. Isn’t that what it’s all about? Being