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 August 10, 2023, Av 23, 5783*

How can one’s emunah and betachon be helpful?

Why Live Another Day?

The tears from our eyes of passionate prayers to Hakadosh Baruch Hu.
We beseech You our Helika Tatte, our Father in Heaven.  You know what is in our hearts. You know how much we love You and Whom we can share our inner most feelings, our worries, our desires, for ourselves and for others. We depend on H for the right direction.

Our personal bakashos have immense meaning and should never be taken for granted. But the holy printed words of the tefilos in our Siddurim are tremendously vital and should be read with intense kavana and feelings. 

Feeling the Pain of the Masses.

 Trust in H and do good; dwell in the land and cultivate faith.(Tehillim 37:3)

Blessed is the man who trusts and relies in H.

He will be like a tree near water. (Yirmiyah 17:7-8)

I’m singing in the rain!


From Haggadah Shel Pesach A Night of Emuanh by Rabbi Binyomin Pruzansky

Artscroll Series Published by Artscroll Mesorah Publications Ltd.

“Why Live Another Day? Pages 174-175 “In his old age, Rav Yechezkel Abramsky related this story about his time in a Siberian prison.

One night I was lying on my hard-board bed near some other inmates. A Russian man named Sterlikov called out to me, “How come you’re not sleeping yet? Are you busy thing about when the Russians are going to kill you?

“Not at all,” I replied. “I know the Russians will come in a few hours, not to kill me but rather to wake me up. At that time, I’ll declare to H, ‘Modeh Ani lifanecha Melech chai vekayam shehechezarta bi nishmasi b’chemlah rabah emunasecha-I gratefully thank You, living and eternal King, for You have returned my soul within me with compassion-great is Your faithfulness.”

This quieted the Russian, but it got me thinking.”

Modeh ani? Thank You, H? What was I thanking Him for? That He returned my neshamah so that I can live another day and go back to my miserable backbreaking labor? Should I thank Him for being locked away far away from home in this freezing place among the non-Jews? What chesed was H doing for me by returning my neshamah?

Even more incomprehensible, I thought to myself, was to state that this was b’chemlah- with compassion. My physical state was so poor and my spiritual state was even worse. I didn’t even have a tallis or tefillin. I couldn’t perform mitzvos and serve H properly. Was that compassion?

Then I reached the last words of the tefilah and I was consoled. When I thought about the words raba emunasecha-great is Your faithfulness-a spark of light suddenly entered my dark world.

I realized that I did feel grateful to H for my emunah, because my emunah in H could not be taken away from me even in that Gehinnom. With full conviction, I truly could say to H, “I thank You for each day that I am able to continue believing in You, or even for another moment of life that I merit to have emunah,” because it was worth enduring that most difficult times as long as I could merit to continue believing in H.” 

From Zera Shimshon. The sefer. The stories. The segulah. Volume 2 by Rabbi Nachman Seltzer With selections from Sefer Zera Shimshon, the classic sefer by the 18th– century Rav. Rabbi Shimshom Chaim Nachmani. The Shaar Press Distributed by Mesorah Publications Ltd. Parshas Re’eh Page 521- 522.

“Feeling the Pain of the Masses. “See, I present before you today a blessing and a curse.” 

“Why does this pasuk begin with the word re’eh, “see,” in the singular, while continuing with the word lifneichem, “before you,” in the plural form?

The Gemara teaches that at a time when the nation as a whole is suffering, a person should not go to his house to eat and drink and say to himself, Everything is good with my life. And if he does act this way, with little regard for the suffering around him, he will not merit taking part in the nation’s consolation (Taanis 11a).

This is why the pasuk begins with the word re’eh, written in the singular, and then changes to the plural form. H is talking here to every single individual and saying, “Whether I give the nation blessings or I give them curses, you should see yourself as taking part with them and not separate yourself from them.”

Here is another answer, this time from Parshas Eikev:

At times there may be one tzaddik among the people, and that will be sufficient to provide merit for everyone. When that occurs, H considers it as if the entire nation fulfilled the mitzvos properly.

We find a similar idea where R’ Yochanan says that one individual can bring merit to an entire city, and two family members can bring merit to the entire family (Sanhedrin 111a).

This is why the pasuk begins with the singular term re’eh and concludes with the plural word lifneichem. It’s to remind us that the act of the individual helps the entire congregation, and that sometimes, when one person fulfills the mitzvos properly, everyone in the nation receives blessings in his wake.

H doesn’t want His people to be stuck in their own world: uncaring, selfish, or unconcerned. He wants us to look around us at the people in our surroundings and care about them and to help them when and if we can.

This is true for everyone.

But, especially so for those who are closest to us. It’s especially important to be available and attuned then. This is your family. Care about them. Protect them: Take care of them. They are relying on you. 

“Re’eh”: never forget to look around you and be there for those who need you.”

Translation From The Milstein Edition The Prophets Jeremiah, Artscroll Series Mesorah Publications Ltd. (17:7) “Blessed is the man who trusts in H, then H will be his security.” “The translation follows Radak, who interprets this verse as a cause and effect. If one places his trust in H, then H will be his security. Malbim explains that even when one trusts in H, often he considers his source of security to be the person or means through which he expects to achieve success, such as his employer or his business. He believes that H will provide for him through those avenues. Such a person is not cursed, but has not yet earned this blessing. This refers to one whose total faith in H, Who is the sole source of blessing and Who can bring it in any way He wishes. If one tries to develop his trust in H, then H will aid him to develop that sense of security (Me’am Loez, based on Radak).”

(17:8) “He will be like a tree planted near water, which spreads out its roots along a brook” whose foliage is ever fresh; it will not worry in a year of drought and will not stop producing fruit.” The message of this verse is that the one who has total, uncompromising trust in H will never lack (Metzudos). 

“And does not see when heat comes.” “The oral version (k’ri’) vilo yireh, meaning that a well-watered tree does not see or sense the heat, because its abundant moisture protects it. The written version (k’siv) is velo yira, does not fear. One who truly trusts in H remains composed in the face of danger, since he knows that with H’s will, nothing can harm him (Daas Sofrim). 

“Whose foliage is ever fresh….and will not stop producing fruit.” “Metaphorically, foliage refers to the finances of the one who trusts, which he will use to help others. Fruit refers to the wisdom and good deeds that influence others for the better (Radak). According to Abarbanel, fruit refers to children.

People are compared to a tree (see Deuteronomy 20:19). Just as a tree continues to grow and develop, so too should man. Just as a tree can flourish only if it is firmly rooted and nourished, so too can a man bear “fruit” only if he trusts H, and is therefore rooted in the Source of all life. Thus, the Mishnah in Avos (3:17) uses v.6 and this verse to contrast one whose actions reflect his wisdom to perfect himself and translates his wisdom into good deeds, then he “grows” like a tree. If not, his wisdom will eventually “dry up” (R’ Yerucham Levovitz).”

Translation from Artscroll Tehillim Mesorah Publications Ltd. (37:3) “Trust in H and do good; dwell in the land and nourish [yourself] with faithfulness.” H will nourish you because of your faith in Him and your good deeds (Rashi).”

From The Hafetz Hayim On The Siddur by Rabbi Y.A. Dvorkes, Philip Feldheim Publishers Ltd. Foreword “When a man stands in prayer before his Creator, he gives himself up completely to his Father in heaven-his heart and mind, his tears and sighs, his joy and sorrow. In these great moments, without any distraction whatever, with nothing of the physical, material life mixed in, his true complete self is revealed: his nature and being, all his 248 organs and limbs, and his 365 sinews, both the physical and the spiritual- all of him stands in prayer.”

The siddur, the prayer book, has been transmuted into a man’s book of life, that accompanies him constantly, from the time the child learns to combine the letters into words, until the moment when, on the verge of death, he can yet hold the siddur in order to say his last confession before the Maker of his spirit, in his final moments. It teaches him to entreat, and it expresses his happiness for him in words that he himself would never find. It awakens him (as he needs) to rejoice or lament, concentrate or grow humble, beseech or ask. It is the “liaison officer” between him and his Maker, that converts into suitable words whatever a man is likely to muse on in his heart. 

A person should not be still when he prays, but he should rather cry out to the Holy One. For Scripture clearly says, “then we cried out to the L-rd the G of our fathers, and the L-rd heard our voice (Deuteronomy 26:7). It doesn’t say that He heard our prayer, but that He heard our voice. Hence, we learn that we ought to clamor to the Holy One, as a person is answered the more when he cries out to the Almighty.

Sometimes the Holy One accepts a person’s prayer to answer it at once; sometimes He thus accepts it after several days, or after a longer period; and at times it even happens only after several years-as the Sages of blessed memory said in the Midrash: There is prayer that is answered even after several years. During the prayer-services we should pray for the entire, collective community or Jewry, for that is accepted more than prayer for an individual.”

I have written about older couples who either for the first time got married or remarried, couples who married with various medical diagnoses, men and women who for whatever reason remained single by choice, or want so much to be married but have not found their zivig. I have written about various situations which could bring tears of joy and happiness or situations where the prayers of rachamim are needed- whether it be due to illness, financial issues, challenges due to addiction and substance use, mental health or other issues. Whatever the topic, I have found tremendous kindness, goodness, achdus, Kiddush H and shalom from our Gedolim, our Rabbonim, Rebbetzins, Chaplains and professionals in diverse fields who are truly remarkable. Our congregants, patients and so many who we minister to or help through the various positions our professionals have, need our strength, understanding, wisdom and stamina to be able to offer our help to the best of our abilities. We all know deep down how much emunah and betachon, our faith and trust in the Ribono shel Olam is so important. It is no easy task conveying those innate feelings we ourselves have for H during a person’s crises, challenging times, feeling miserable, down in the dumps, saddened for whatever reason. We often cry with them, laugh with them, hold their hands when appropriate, join them with our hearts and our souls. Our midos have to be impeccable, and often we must keep our thoughts to ourselves so as not to offend those we are offering our care to. Our sincerity is always of utmost importance. There are times when we too must seek guidance and help when dealing with situations beyond the scope of our own abilities. There are times when we too might be going through a difficult or challenging personal situation and need the chizuk or expertise from our own mentors and those we seek guidance from. Most of all, we too must turn to Hakadosh Baruch Hu for His guidance and blessings. 

I would like to conclude this article with a tremendous personal uplifting event that occurred this past Monday evening. I was about to leave to Mincha and Maariv, but found that the elevator was stuck on one of the floors and it might take a while for maintenance to get it running again. Though I could have walked down the stairs, and B H I have been doing so these past Shabbosim. However, I’m still taking it easy going up though that too is on the rebound. So, I davened Minchah in my apartment. Later on, after checking several times, I found that the elevator was working again. So I went to daven Maariv in shul. I had not listened to the weather report not knowing it might rain later on in the evening. I was so happy going to shul with the nice weather. When I finished Maariv and went to the stairs to leave, it was pouring. I left my nice hat in shul and was in such good spirits going home getting all wet while singing in the rain thanking H for everything He does which is good -even while getting soaked. I was very happy that I could sing as loud as I wish as very few people were outside. Truthfully, the last time I became soaked, I was walking in the rain a few years ago. I was on a city bus and sitting next to me was an elderly lady. It started to rain and I noticed she did not have an umbrella and was not wearing a rain coat. I asked if she would mind accepting my umbrella. Though she mentioned I would surely need it. I responded that I was not going very far from the bus stop. She was so grateful for my gracious offer and thanked me so much. I did get soaked, but I was happy and I hope I made a Kiddush H. It was daytime with lots of people around. I was not thinking about singing in the rain at that time. But, this past Monday evening  I really enjoyed my walk. Rather than feeling upset that my suit, shirt and tie got soaking wet or saying to myself why I had not taken an umbrella, worn a raincoat or most of all, not having listened to the weather report, I really felt great. I was so grateful to be able to walk to and from shul after so many months of not being able to do so. It has been several weeks already that I was able to go to shul to feel a lot closer to H Yisbarach. Besides, how often do I get a chance to walk and sing in the rain thanking H- without a raincoat or umbrella? P.S. I don’t know why, but I even gave a splash in the puddles getting my shoes and socks wet too. Maybe I just wanted to have some fun with no one around watching me. Why not? It’s good to feel young ! 

To one and all, no matter what your age might be, or whatever might be ailing you, I hope you can feel young at heart and find many moments of inspiration, meaningful, joyous and happy moments that can last as long as possible. May everyone have much simchas hachaim. Amein.

Sincerely, Rabbi Yehuda Blank