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
**Wednesday July 26th, 2023, Av 9, 5783**
Erev Tisha B’ Av
May this day become a Yom Tov.


During our own times of happiness, we should think of the
needs and happiness of others especially in their times of need.

Everyone has the G given abilities according to their owns strengths. It is possible as Rav Moshe Feinstein zt”l points out in his sefer Darash Moshe the potential of a person to become one of the judges, the shoftim of over a thousand, over a hundred, over fifty and even ten. Rav Noson Tzvi Finkel zt”l became the Rosh Yeshiva of Mir in Yerushalayim against many odds including the onset of a debilitating illness of Parkinsons . The Rosh Yeshiva of a well known yeshiva in Eretz Yisrael took the brunt of shame thereby preventing the tragic embarrassment of one of the kollel talmidim. The Bobover Rebbe hugged and kissed an adversary bringing Shalom. I will share with you several stories that will elaborate the essence of the importance of a Jewish person and the impact he or she could have on Klal Yisrael.

At a wedding, ashes are put on the Chassan to remember the Beis Hamikdash. One of the reasons for breaking the plate after the Tenaim is read is to remember the Beis Hamikdash. One of the reasons the Chassan breaks the glass at the conclusion of the wedding ceremony is to remember the Beis Hamikdash. Even during a happy and joyous occasion such as a wedding, we do not forget the Beis Hamikdash. On the Holy Shabbos except for the Yom Tovim, we recite the Av Harachamim to remember the tragedies that happened many years ago. Yet, H does not want us to forget His love for Klal Yisrael and the many kind things Klal Yisrael can do for each other which will bring us closer to the coming of Mashiach. If you think about it, when do the Three weeks, the Nine Days and Tisha B’ Av fall out? During the height of the summer when many people are on vacation. We should always remember that we are Klal Yisrael and represent the Jewish people. 

We as human beings find it extremely difficult to comprehend why tragic things happen because it just isn’t in the realm of things for us to know why. Only H knows why. Even Shlomo HaMelech did not know the reason many unfortunate calamities occur. Moshe Rabbeinu in Parshas Devarim enumerates the many trials and tribulations during the Benai Yisrael’s journey in the Midbar. Yet, Moshe speaks to the Benai Yisrael with softness and hope for the future. He did not chastise them. Just as Moshe did not give up, neither shall we give up. Klal Yisrael must always be cognizant of those who we could be mechazaik and helpful in their times of need and not just think of our own needs or happiness. This is especially so when someone might be despondent and going through an unhappy situation.  Moshe Rabbeinu also taught us the essence of anivas, being humble with his own trials and tribulations. He showed us by example his willingness to accept being shamed rather than shaming others. There is so much goodness we can do. We can share our kindness rather than finding fault in others. We should remember the sinas chinam that caused the destruction of the Beis Hamikdash that led to the mourning of the Three Weeks. Rabbis, Rebbetzins and Chaplains can inspire others to realize that through their maysim tovim  and accomplishments can bring about the rebuilding of the third Beis Hamikdash. Shabbos Nachamu represents the conclusion of the Three Weeks and the inspiration to us to increase Ahavas Yisrael .  

From Darash Moshe by Rav Moshe Feinstein zt”l. Artscroll Judaica Classics Published by Mesorah Publications Ltd (English edition). Parshas Devorim Pages 278-279 “I said to you at that time, saying, “I cannot carry you alone” (1:9) “Leaving aside the question of Moses’ feelings on the subject, however, we are still left with the question of why, in Rashi’s view, H did not want Moses to bear the burden of judging the people alone. This question, we believe, can be answered through a principle we stated in our commentary at the beginning of Parshas Ki Sisa (Shemos 30:12). There we said that the Torah uses an expression of lifting up to describe taking a census in order to tell each and every Jew that just as he is counted exactly the same as Moses is in the census, so too he has an obligation to do everything he can to make himself into as great a person as Moses. Realizing this can only encourage us to do our best and not sink into the negative mentality that there is no point in studying Torah because we can never hope to become as great as Moses, however much we apply ourselves. 

To return to our original question, we can say that had H let Moses continue judging the people by himself, it would have made the rest of the people despair of ever achieving similar heights. This is why H commanded the appointment of judges at all levels, in order to present a goal for everyone; even someone who is not blessed with the abilities of Moses can still aspire to be a judge over a thousand, or a hundred, or at least over fifty or ten. Whatever level he attains, however great or humble, can then be used as a stepping stone from which to strive for ever higher and higher plateaus.”

From Rabbi Bender on Chumash by Rabbi Yaakov Bender, Artscroll, Mesorah Publications Ltd, From the Flatbush Jewish Journal July 20, 2023, Page 63

“After the petirah of Rav Beinish Finkel, there were a number of suitable candidates to succeed him as rosh yeshiva (Mir Yerushalayim). His oldest son-in-law, Rav Nosson Tzvi Finkel, was one of the biggest masmidim in yeshiva, respected as a gaon, but some of the yeshiva old-timers thought that the American avreich could not stand at the helm of what was essentially a Yerushalmi yeshiva.

It was not just the fact that English was his first language. He was already then suffering from what would later be diagnosed as Parkinson dealing with weakness and physical limitations that would only worsen.

How could he lead the yeshiva if walking down the street was hard?

It did not take long for those who worked closely with him to become his greatest admirers. On the first Simchas Torah after Rav Beinish’s passing, Rav Refoel Shmulevitz- who some talmidim had considered a suitable choice-spent a good part of hakafos dancing alone in front of Rav Nosson Tzvi, as if the new rosh yeshiva were himself a Sefer Torah. It was a resounding message to the talmididm about how Rav Refoel viewed the new rosh yeshiva.

Years later, Rav Nosson Tzvi came into a yeshiva Chanukah mesibah, which is one of the high points of the year in Mir, an evening of simchas haTorah, achdus between friends, and shared celebration between rebbeim and talmidim. Rav Nosson Tzvi was clearly in pain, every step difficult as he made his way to the head table, his face wreathed in determination just to make it to his seat.

The singing talmidim watched him, their beloved rosh yeshiva, and everyone of them was wondering the same thing. How was it possible? How did this man, who faced such obstacles, manage to learn and teach, saying brilliant shiurim and chaburos, maintaining personal chavrusa sessions with any bachur that asked? How did the weak, sickly tzaddik raise millions of dollars each year, traveling and speaking and meeting donors?

Rav Yitzchok Ezrachi speaks at the annual mesibah, and that year, he seemed to detect the unasked question hanging over the room. He raised the microphone and roared out a pasuk from the haftorah of Shabbos Chanukah: Not with strength, nor might- but with My spirit, said H, Master of Legions (Zechariah 4:6).

That was his answer. That was his explanation.

Physical might has no connection with success. Strength has no bearing on the final result. Ruach? Spirit? That is everything. A weak man emerged as one of the great builders of Torah in modern history-and from whom did Rav Nosson Tzvi learn?

From our greatest leader, who went from “lo ish devarim anochi,” to a Sefer in the Torah that begins with “eileh hadevarim,” these are the words that Moshe taught, and still teaches.”

From the Jewish Vues newspaper July 19-July 25, 2023 “The Fifteen-Second Drasha Page 23 (Source: Adapted by Yerachmiel Tilles from the Vayechi 5777 email of “Torah U “Tefilah: A Collection of Inspiring Insights”, compiled by Rabbi Yehuda Winzelberg, as posted in “Shabbos Stories for the Parsha”, Shemos 5777.”  “Rabbi Yitzchak Zilberstein relates about the previous Bobover Rebbe, Rabbi Shlomo Halberstam, that he was a wellspring of sensitivity for all Jews, and how he was able to overcome any feelings of anger and hurt to pursue peace. His activities during and after World War II saved many Jews, both physically and spiritually. However, as it goes with great people, they will inevitably have detractors-people who are filled with envy and seek glory.

Shortly after the Bobover Rebbe came to America, a local rabbi who felt threatened by the Bobover Rebbe’s activities on behalf of world Jewry, strongly criticized the Rebbe, and personally attacked his character. The Bobover Rebbe did not respond to the attack.

Eventually, the slanderous remarks became humiliating. The Rebbe summoned all of his chasidim to assemble in his Bais Medrash. The large shul was filled to capacity; everyone had crammed in to hear the Rebbe’s response to the insults that had been launched at him.

The Bobover Rebbe entered the Beis Medrash, ascended to the front of the Holy Ark where the Torah scrolls are kept, and after kissing the outer curtain, turned to the people gathered there. He said,” I am declaring to everyone assembled here, as I stand in front of the Holy Ark, that I absolutely forbid anyone from battling on my behalf! My honor is my honor, and it will remain my honor, but only if everyone acts appropriately and does not take sides. Whoever does not obey me has no place in my Beis Medrash!”

Having spoken for a total of fifteen seconds, the Rebbe descended the podium and left the shul.

A few hours later, the Rebbe asked his attendant to take him to the attacking rabbi’s home. By then, word of the Rebbe’s response had already spread throughout the community. The Rebbe arrived at the rabbi’s house and knocked on the door. 

The Rabbi answered the door, and when he realized who was standing before him, his face turned white. The Bobover Rebbe understood that words were not necessary—it was action that was needed. He took the rabbi in both his arms, hugged him and kissed him on the cheek.

Then he said, “Dear Rabbi, you may go to anyone of my Chasidim and they will attest to the fact that I have no bad feelings towards you at all. Just as we were once friends, we will continue to remain friends!” 

The rabbi was a changed person as a result of that encounter, and the attacks stopped. The Bobover Rebbe corrected the situation by expressing his love for a fellow Jew instead of responding with anger, even though there was great reason for him to get angry.

Rav Zilberstein notes that R. Shlomo of Bobov’s yahrzeit is on Rosh Chodesh Menachem Av, which is the same yahrzeit as Aharon HaKohen, the brother of Moshe Rabbeinu and the first High Priest. This is significant because both Aharon and the Bobover exemplified the dictum of Hillel the Elder (Avos 1:12), “Love peace and pursue peace….” They each possessed a love for all Jews and strongly desired to promote peace and harmony within the collective Jewish people.” 

From Zera Shimshon Volume 2 The sefer. The stories. The segulah. With selections from Sefer Zera Shimshon, the classic sefer by the 18th-century Rav, Rabbi Shimshin Chaim Nachmani, by Rabbi Nachman Seltzer in conjunction with Rabbi Menachem Binyomin Paskesz and Rabbi Yisroel Zilberberg. Published by Shaar Press, Distributed by Mesorah Publications Ltd. Parshas Devarim “The Sound of the Voice” Pages 496-503 “Moshe Rabbeinu told the Yidden the truth: “H was listening not only to your words but also to your intonation. When you spoke, it was with Yishuv Hadaas. You knew exactly what you were saying, and you expressed your feelings pointedly.”

In the story Rabbi Seltzer wrote about “the sound-the “kol”- that got an entire Kollel in trouble, and the chinuch they were given, and how everything was saved before it was too late. You will be as touched and inspired as Rabbi Rami Fisher, who was there and witnessed if firsthand.

There was a brand new and prestigious Kollel that opened in Yerushalayim. The rosh Kollel was one of the most esteemed mechanchim in Yerushalayim, famous for his incredibly original shiurim and brilliant method of learning. It was a phenomenal makon Torah in every way. Those who were chosen to learn in this Kollel had to be special in many ways and each in a very high level of learning. 

“Every Monday night, after the second seder had come to an end, the rosh Kollel would deliver a shmuess to the Kollel. Though he delivered shiurim around the city-around the country, for that matter-the Monday-night shmuess was limited solely to the members of the Kollel. The doors were locked, and outsiders were not allowed in. With one exception and that was Rav Asher Zelig Rubinstein zt”l who was then the rosh yeshiva of Toras Simcha on Sorotzkin Street in Yerushalayim. Rav Asher Zelig and the rosh Kollel had a longtime relationship that spanned decades, and it was not surprising that he was among the select few who were allowed in to hear the shmuess.

Rabbi Asher Zelig would arrive every Monday evening on time and would take a seat near the front of the room, close to his old friend. There he would sit, listening carefully to every word that emanated from the rosh kollel’s mouth, showing every sign of enjoying the Torah being spoken and otherwise drawing no attention to himself. Thus it went, until one particular Monday evening. The evening that would go down in the annals of the Kollel as the night of the three rings.

There were certain demands the Kollel members had to follow. One was this: from the moment they entered the doors of the Kollel in the morning until seder was over, all phones were turned off. That was the rule and no accommodations were made for anyone.

On the fateful Monday night of the three rings, Rav Asher Zelig was seated in his regular seat, and the rosh Kollel was standing at the front of the room, about to begin the shiur, when the unthinkable occurred. The ringing occurred three times.

“Every single one of you sitting here agreed to shut off your phones during seder when you joined the Kollel,” he said.

No one knew whose phone went off and no one admitted that it was their phone. The rosh kollel told everyone to find another kollel. As he was about to leave the room, a man suddenly rose to his feet from his place at the front of the room and was hurrying over to the rosh kollel. “I’m very sorry,” he called out. “It was my phone that rang.” 

All faces now turned in the direction of the speaker.

It was Rav Asher Zelig Rubinstein.

“It was your phone?” the rosh kollel asked.

“Yes, I always turn it off when I come into the Beis Medrash, but today, somehow I forgot. I never dreamed that it was my phone since I always shut it off. That’s why I didn’t even bother checking to see if the ringing was coming from me when it rang the first time. Please be mochel me!”

The rosh kollel stared at his old friend for a second, before replying, “Ask them for mechilah.” 

Rav Asher Zelig asked the yungeleit for mechilah and then the rosh kollel continued the shiur. 

A number of years went by and Rav Asher Zelig Rubinstein had passed away. At the shiva, a yungerman walked into the shiva house. He sat there listening to the many stories people had shared with the aveilim until there were less people that evening. The mourners saw the stranger and realized that they didn’t know who he was and had never seen him before. 

“Were you a talmid?” they asked him. 


“How did you know our father?” they asked. 

“I knew your father very well.”

 “I can tell you a story about your father that you have never heard before and that proves the type of Tzadik that he was more than all the other stories that were told in this room.”  

He related the scene that occurred one evening in the kollel he was learning in when a phone rang three times. The rosh kollel told the kollel members to find another kollel for breaking the rule of not having their phone turned off. Only one person rose from his seat to admit having forgotten to have shut his phone before entering the room for the shiur. Because he publicly asked for mechilah, the rosh kollel permitted everyone to remain in the kollel and continued with the shiur that evening. 

“The rosh kollel accepted his words (Rav Zelig),but told him he had to apologize to the entire kollel for the unpleasantness that his actions had caused everyone there. This your father did, even though he was already a senior rosh yeshiva and the members of the kollel were young men.” 

“It was only when I left the shiur,” the visitor continued,” that I removed my phone from my pocket and saw to my utter shock and dismay, that I myself had forgotten to turn off my phone during the shmuess and that there were three missed calls. I too had never dreamed that it was my phone that was ringing, or that I was the cause of the lack of derech eretz during the shmuess that night. I will never forget how your father jumped up to take responsibility for something he had not done, in order to salvage what could have been a tragedy. He not only accepted the full blame on himself for something that was not his fault, but even agreed to apologize publicly to the kollel for having caused them pain, when all along it had been my phone that rang and caused the entire situation.” 

The young man took a deep breath.

“Now you know,” he concluded, “why I said that the story I had to tell you was far greater than anything else that you heard. Your father, a venerable rosh yeshiva, allowed himself to be humiliated in public for something that had nothing to do with him, in order to make shalom amongst Yidden.

“That was your father, a great man in Klal Yisrael.”

And the mourners were forced to agree that the story that the man had come to tell them really was the best one they had heard about their father and did showcase the type of Tzadik that he was: that it never was and never had been about him, but only about the Ribono shel Olam, the Torah and the talmidim.”

May we be zoche to serve the Ribono shel Olam to the best of our abilities and to bring goodness and kindness to Klal Yisrael. May we be zoche through our maysim tovim to help bring Mashiach and the building of the third Beis Hamikdash in our lifetime. May we be zoche to have the ultimate shalom-peace with simchas hachaim, good health and much happiness and joy in our lives.

Sincerely, Rabbi Yehuda Blank