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 July 6th, 2023, Tammuz 17, 5783    
                                               Shiva Asar B’Tamuz                                                    


Today, once again, we begin the “Three Weeks” of availus for the Beis HaMikdash in Yerushalayim. Yet, with all the terrible things that occurred to Klal Yisrael through the generations, we do not give up hope that Mashiach will one day arrive and inform us of the rebuilding of the Beis HaMikdash. That same hope with our love for HaKadosh Baruch Hu and the love He has for Klal Yisrael instills in us the love we should have for Klal Yisrael. The word love is superfluous and meaningless, unless we have what to back it up with. Our love for our Yiddishkeit sounds great, but it is our love for and being mekayeim the mitzvos that are important. Our Yiddishkeit includes Kiddush H, achdus, not having machlokes, being kind, caring, sincere, shalom bein Adam lechaveiro, bein mishpacha, and not speaking loshon harah which Heaven Forbid could lead to Sinas Chinam. Loving a spouse for instance is not just sweet talk, but actually caring for each other, feeling for each other, doing for each other, sharing the happiness and joy for each other.  Being kind to all people no matter what their faith, their culture, their language or ethnicity is vital and can lead to many opportunities of making a Kiddush H. Everyone is created by the Holy One our Ribono shel Olam. Showing care for our fellow Jews and relatives no matter what level of Judaism they are at can also lead to making a Kiddush H.  We never know the impact we can have on others, sometimes not right away, and sometimes years later on.   

Aharon Hakohen Gadol was at the epitone of gadlus in his love and care for his fellow Jews as we learn from Parshas Chukas. He knew no bounds of what he would do to bring shalom and love between and amongst the Benai Yisroel. He will be an everlasting role model of how we should all be.  

From Rabbi Frand on the Parsha Artscroll Series, Mesorah Publications Ltd. Parshas Chukas Pages 228-230 “The Ateres Mordechai explains that Aharon was the glue that held the Jewish people together. The Mishneh states (Avos `:12) that Aharon “loved peace and pursued it, loved people and brought them near to the Torah. “He reached out to people with a boundless, embracing love, and they could not help but respond. 

Whenever Aharon saw a Jew doing something wrong, he did not respond with anger. He did not throw stones. He did not berate and criticize the transgressor. He greeted him with a smile, with an expansive “Good morning.” He asked how he was and beamed with genuine pleasure when the news was good. When they parted, the transgressor felt warmed by Aharon’s love. He felt good. And the next time he had the opportunity to sin, he held back. “How can I do such a thing? He asked himself. “Aharon, who was so warm and loving to me, would be upset if I did such a thing. Perhaps I shouldn’t do it.” In this way, Aharon drew people to the Torah and inspired them to do teshuvah. 

(continued) The Avos d’Rabbi Nassan observes that when Aharon died, “the entire House of Israel mourned”-both men and women. But when Moshe died, “the sons of Israel”-the men only mourned. 

Moshe loved the Jewish people with all his heart, but his role was teacher and judge. He had to show the people the way, to correct their errors, to issue uncompromising judgments. The people respected, admired, revered and loved him, but there was a certain inevitable distance in the relationship. But Aharon was all love, and the people responded with unreserved love of their own. 

Aharon pursued peace. He was the epitome of peace and acceptance. When Moshe came to Egypt as the messenger of H, Aharon did not have the slightest fleeting touch of jealousy, His joy was genuine. He was at peace with the situation, with his brother, with everyone else in the world. 

He also did everything in his power to spread peace among other people. When he knew of two people that were quarreling, he would approach one and say, “I know that the other fellow wants to make up with you, but he is too embarrassed to come to you. If you are willing to make up with him, I’ll be happy to serve as the go-between.” The person undoubtedly accepted the offer of the illustrious Aharon. Then he went and told the same thing to the other fellow, and that was it. Peace! 

I missed being necham aveilim someone who recently got up from shiva for his mother. I happened to have met him unexpectedly at a local bakery this past Friday. We sat in the corner of the store and he shared with me many heartwarming stories about his mother and the pride she had of her sons who attended yeshivos and their successful positions in their adult years.  She always remembered the special kindness and respect she received from two rabbis years ago which she never forgot. As he was sharing all the wonderful things about his mother, tears were coming from his eyes. He told me how grateful he was to speak to me and said I was being nechum aveilim in the privacy of that corner. 

I would like to share with my readership several stories of where a moment of compassion can impact on another person going through a tough and challenging time.  

Matzdeekai harabim kakochavim leolam vaed.” Those who make others righteous are compared to the stars in the sky. Even when it is raining, stars are always there. Whatever you said years ago will still impact someone’s life today.” 

From the Yated Ne’eman June 30, 2023, Page 59 ´Food for Thought’ “The Friday Call” by Rabbi Yitzchok Hisiger “Moshe Weiss was a bochur from Montreal who had traveled to Eretz Yisroel to learn at the Belzer Yeshiva on Rechov Agripas in Yerushalayim like many bochurim his age. Usually, the bochurim remained in the yeshiva for several years, shteiging and growing in Torah and avodah. 

In Moshe’s case, it didn’t take long for anyone to realize that things weren’t working out well. He wasn’t taking to the learning, and he wasn’t following the rules. Before long, the decision was made by the hanhalah of the yeshiva that they had no choice but to expel Moshe from the yeshiva. How could they keep such a bachur around?  

And so, the bochur from overseas was sent packing, no longer welcome at the yeshiva. 

But where would he go? 

One person had rachmanus on him. Reb Shaul Nachman worked as an administrator at the yeshiva. In that role, he would say, he didn’t get involved in the ruchniyus, or spirituality, of the yeshiva and its bochurim, but why couldn’t he help out a bochur in need? And so, Reb Shaul invited Moshe to move into his home which he did. 

Moshe didn’t accomplish much during the ensuing months, engaging in behavior unbecoming of a yeshiva bochur, but he did have the luxury of a warm and loving home in which to live, with Reb Shaul, with purity of heart, continuing to allow a troubled bochur to remain. 

Ultimately, after some time, Moshe returned to Canada. 

Fast-forward a bit. 

Three months ago, on Motzei Shabbos Parshas Vayakhel Pekudei-Hachodesh, March 18, Reb Shaul passed away. His family was thrown into mourning, their beloved father and the much-admired administrator of the Belzer Yeshiva taken from their midst. 

On Sunday, during the shivah, the phone rang at the Nachman home. 

“Can I please speak to Reb Shaul?” the caller asked, identifying himself as Moshe Weiss. 

The person who answered the phone, a daughter of Reb Shaul, informed the caller that, sadly, her father had passed away the night before. 

Why was the former talmid of the Belzer Yeshiva calling just then? He explained. 

“I missed your father’s call on Friday.” 

“His call? What call?” 

“His weekly call. Every single week since I left Eretz Yisroel, your father called me on Friday. This past Friday, for whatever reason, I had missed his call.” 

The young man went on to explain that during the previous years, he had gotten connected with a non-Jewish girl, whom he had been dating. Eventually, he moved on from her, and with the help of H, the local Chabad shliach had set him up with a wonderful Jewish girl. 

“I was calling your father to let him know that, G willing, we’ll be getting married.” 

Imagine! This troubled bochur, who had been thrown out of his yeshiva and had fallen to the depths, was receiving a weekly call from 3,000 miles away. 

Because Reb Shaul truly cared. 

He didn’t see Moshe as a problematic young man or someone to be shunned, but as a neshomah in need of love, warmth, and nurturing. And who knows how much that played a role in his eventual turning around.  

We can all be that person in someone’s life, showing just how much we truly care, looking beyond the externals and seeing how much beauty and potential there is beneath the surface. (Rabbi Hisiger thanked Rabbi Y.Y. Jacobson who shared this story with him).”  

From 102 Stories that changed people’s lives. An inspiring anthology that strengthens emunah and bitachon. By Rabbi Tzvi Nakar Volume 2 Tfutza Publications “Every Jew Is Precious” Pages 225-227 “Rav Aharon Toisig, a renowned rav from Bnei Brak, relates the following story. 

My brother, Reb Yaakov zt”l lived in Be’er Sheva for many years. One year, on our father’s yahrtzeit, he went to shul and wanted to be the chazzan for Mincha for our father’s neshamah. But when he arrived in shul, he found they had only nine men for the minyan. My brother went outside looking for a tenth man, but the streets were empty. 

Suddenly, he noticed a young man who clearly wasn’t religious walking down the street. He had long shaggy hair and was wearing jeans. My brother debated whether he should ask him to join the minyan, and in the end decided to try. 

He went up to the young man and asked politely, “Would you be able to join our minyan? 

The young man didn’t understand what my brother even wanted from him. 

“We need ten men to be able to pray. We only have nine. If you join us, will have a minyan.” 

“Sorry, I’m not interested,” the young man said. 

But my brother persisted and tried to appeal to his sense of kindness.  

“Please, today is the anniversary of my father’s passing, and every tefillah and Kaddish will be an elevation for his neshamah. If you join us, this will be to your merit.  

“But I don’t know how to daven,” the young man said hesitantly. 

“That’s okay,” my brother reassured him. “I’ll show you what to say.” 

“But I don’t keep mitzvos. Will G even listen to my prayers?” 

My brother gazed at him with compassion and said. “You should know that every Jew has a lofty soul that was carved from underneath the throne of glory itself. Hakadosh Baruch Hu desires the prayers of every Jew. Every tefillah is beloved in Heaven. Yours, too.” 

The words pierced the young man’s heart, and his eyes glistened with emotion. He slowly followed my brother into the shul, and someone handed him a yarmulke and siddur. My brother showed him what to say, and the davening began. 

The young man davened from the siddur, feeling a little embarrassed, but he remained until the end of the tefillah. 

When davening was over, my brother went over to the young man, shook his hand warmly, and thanked him profusely for the huge favor he had done for him. 

Fourteen years later, my brother entered the main supermarket in Geulah when he noticed an avreich with long peyos, his children at his side. The avreich looked at him and said, “Do you remember me?” 

“I’m sorry, I don’t,” my brother said. 

“Do you remember how one time you were looking for a tenth man for a minyan on your father’s yahrtzeit, and you found a young man with long hair and jeans to join your minyan?” 


“That was me. I was that young man!” 

My brother almost fainted on the spot. He had never dreamed that the young man who had joined his minyan, who had been so remote from Torah, would one day be standing in front of him as a frum man with children of his own. 

“You should know,” the avreich said, “that you played a big part in the changes I made in my life. When I left that shul, I couldn’t get the words you said to me out of my head: Hakadosh Baruch Hu desires the prayers of every Jew. Every tefillah is beloved in Heaven. Yours, too.” 

“I knew you weren’t just saying that. If you thought I could be part of a minyan that was for a zechus for your father’s neshamah, that proved that my tefillah was beloved too. When I got home, I told my wife what happened. I told her that what you said changed my perspective of chareidim and Judaism. You opened the door. From then onward, I began to take an interest in Judaism.  

“A short while later we had started learning concepts in Judaism, stated to keep Shabbos, koshered our kitchen, and I started attending Torah shiurim. At one point my wife and I decided to transfer our children to chareidi schools. 

“Fourteen years have passed since I started that journey, and today I spend my days sitting and learning. Our home is infused with Torah, and my children are all sincere ovdei H.” 

“This is the impact a good word can have on a person distant from Yiddishkeit. The right words can light up a soul and bring it out of the darkness. 

By the way, my brother never told us this story, humbly keeping to himself. It was only after he passed away that we found out about the impact he had on this young man.” “The secret to a good life. Every Jew can be a torch of holiness and faith.” 

When I was the rabbi of a shul on the Lower East Side called Sons of Moses, (whose present Mara D’ Asra is Rav Shaul Small shlita) with the support of the Presidium, I initiated many Judaic programs for men, women, families and even concerts at the shul for young adults. These programs and the concerts were advertised via flyers throughout the community and newspaper articles as well. We also hosted the famous Shabbos Across America program on several occasions. One Shabbos we had a group of Jewish young adults who were working at the Holocaust Museum staying for Shabbos at a hotel not too far away. I remember it because my wife and I walked them back to where they were staying on a snowy cold Friday night. Several of those guests were from another country who came to experience a delightful Shabbos seudah and program. One never knows how Jewish lives can be touched. I was grateful for the wonderful Lower East Siders who helped make these programs meaningful.  One such program brought a couple just for learning how to read Hebrew and eventually to daven. It would help the husband to be able to say Kaddish for his parent. Both were inspired to learn more about their Judaism. The wife went on to become a giyores and later on they married al pi halachah in the very same shul. At that time, I had already taken a position at the Bialystoker Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation which also had a shul. Rav Small was the rabbi at the time of this couple’s marriage. I attended the chasunah and looked back with thanks to the Ribono shel Olam for the golden opportunities He gave this couple.  I was grateful for the continuity Rav Small and his chashuvah Rebbetzin Elana have had with this couple and all the other mispallim of the shul.  

May we be zoche to continue to inspire others to follow in the ways of Aharon Hakohen Gadol. We can instill tremendous achdus, simchas hachaim and much happiness with erlichkeit, sincerity and care for others. I personally am inspired by our Rabbonim, our Rebbetzins and our Chaplains and of course our Gedolim. With our tefillos, our maysim tovim, our kindness and goodness may we be zoche to see the coming of Mashiach in our lifetime.  

Sincerely, Rabbi Yehuda Blank