Rabbi Yehuda (Leonard) Blank MS, BCC
Vice President of Professional Development and External Affairs
Rabbinical Alliance of America/Igud HaRabbonim
*Thursday August 17, 2023, Rosh Chodesh Elul 1, 5783*
Our Heilika Tatte.
Was I really singing in the rain thanking H for all that He does? Did I actually give that elderly woman who I was sitting next to on the bus my umbrella when I noticed she neither had an umbrella or a raincoat and I was actually going to get soaked when I would depart the bus to wherever I was going? Why would anyone think otherwise? Because my actions did not seem normal, or too altruistic? But isn’t that what we are supposed to do-show care for others Jewish or non-Jewish? It was also a wonderful opportunity to make a Kiddush H especially with so many people on board and this woman openly expressed her appreciation. Regarding singing in the rain- well I was filled with joy being able to walk without a cane or walker after so many months prior to and after my hip replacement. Since then, I have returned to being able to go to shul, attend simchas and events. As I shared in one of my previous reflections and what I continue to gain from others with their own challenges in life, a more meaningful perspective of life and a close relationship with the Ribono shel Olam. Loving H, with one’s heart is so beautiful and meaningful.
He is our Heilika Tatte, Our Father in Heaven. It is only natural to often take things for granted and sometimes lose sight of the beauty of our tefilos, our Torah learning, the mitzvos we have, whatever it takes to do gemilus chasadim and making a Kiddush H. We all need each other, but we also need H. I recently was zoche to participate in three family chasunahs, reciting a bracha under the chupah, being mesameiach the Chasan, sitting with the Chasan, family members and choshuva rabbonim during the dancing which was truly special. Though for a few moments I was feeling melancholy standing under the chupah knowing beloved mishpacha who are in Olam Haba were invited and were also present. There were no feelings of sadness or thoughts of returning to the initial years of grief, but I could be mispallel with happiness, good feelings and brachos for the Chasan ,Kallah, and entire mishpacha. We all have our secret prayers, desires and needs that we share from our hearts and sometimes with our tears to H Yisbarach. We must never forget it is He Who makes anything everything possible.
Just this past Friday, I received a call from the husband and wife who were married July 10th, 2022 and are both Cancer patients keeping in touch with me. I am so inspired by their continued desire to love each other, help each other, care for each other and find deep meaning in their relationship with H. They are always thanking Him for having made their wedding possible, despite their continuous treatments and many challenges. Yet, their faith, their emunah and their trust in H is truly remarkable. Just that week I came across a thank you card from Alvin that had pictures of them at their magnificent wedding. Their joy and love for each other remains strong as ever. The message they still convey is how everything H does is possible. During their courtship, and engagement Alvin shared his feelings with me about never giving up. If a person wants to get married, is seeking his/her zivig, just pray to H from one’s heart and soul with tremendous feelings. Whether it may be an older man or woman who might have been previously married and became divorced, widow, widower or never was married. Or a person who might have some medical or physical disabilities or challenges, everything is possible. Alvin and Marla continue to inspire me with my own prayers in life and for those who I am mispallel for. Their blessings are so filled with sincerity, beauty, and hearts filled with kindness and goodness. The kindness and goodness they have for each other and most of all for our Father, our Holy Father Who is not just in Heaven Above, but His Shechinah is with us all the time. I give thanks to the Ribono shel Olam for my friendship with them that is truly special indeed and for their blessings and good wishes.
Avraham Fried has a beautiful song which I have included in the link below to his video Abba: These are the words in his song which are seen in the video. The words are also in Hebrew.
The G Who Protects Us
The G Who Loves Us
The G Who Is Our Father
In The War He Protects Us
Invisible In Our Midst
My Father, He Is The King Of The World
Father, Father, Father, King Of The World
You Forgive Over And Over Again
You Are My Hiding Place
Father, Father King Of The World
From Zera Shimshon The Sefer. The stories. The Segula by Rabbi Nachman Seltzer With selections from Sefer Zera Shimshon by Rabbi Shimshon Chaim Nachmani Parshas Re-eh Page 525. 536-537, by Rabbi Nachman Seltzer
“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.”
“Why It Says Anochi Twice” “I, only I, am He Who Comforts you. Who are you that you should be afraid of mortal humans and of men will be made of grass?”
“For the haftorah of Parshas Shoftim, we read the above verse from Yeshayahu. There it is written, “I, only I, am H Who comforts you…” The Midrash comments (Yalkut Shimoni, Yeshayahu, Remes 474):
“Rav Abba said in the name of R”Shimon ben Levi: This can be compared to a king who grew angry at the queen. He made her life miserable and eventually threw her out. Then he felt remorse for what he did and tried to convince her to return. She said to him, ‘Double my kesubah, and then I will return.’
“This is exactly what happened between H and Klal Yisrael. At Sinai, I said to you, ‘I [Anochi] am H, your G.’ In the future, when we will be in Yerushalayim once again, I will say, ‘I, only I, am He Who comforts you,’ repeating the word anochi twice.”
But how does this benefit Klal Yisrael? What practical difference is there if H says the word anochi once or twice?
Elsewhere the Midrash tell us (Yalkut Shimoni, Zechariah, Remez 577) that the other redemptions, having come about through man, were not eternal redemptions and were followed by further enslavements. The final redemption, on the other hand, will be brought about through H Himself and will not be followed by any more enslavement.
What does that mean?
When it came to the redemption from Mitzrayim, H’s promise to Avraham Avinu at the bris bein habesarim came true during the plague of the firstborn: “Also the nation that they shall serve I shall judge” (Bereishis 15:14). At this time H Himself passed through Egypt and struck down the firstborn (see Shemos 12:12). Yet while the redemption was carried out by H Himself, the majority of that redemption was carried out by none other than Moshe and Aharon, Only a small part of it was done directly by the hand of H.
In the future, however, the redemption of Klal Yisrael will be done completely by H.
That is why the pasuk says anochi twice when discussing the subject of the future redemption, hinting that this time it will be done completely through the hand of H.
In this parshah, the Torah tells us that when a person lives the way he is supposed to, he does not have to fear witches and the forces of impurity because H is on his side, protecting him.
Likewise, when a person does not compromise when it comes to doing mitzvos, there’s no question that H will take care of him there too.
In other words, be true to yourself and watch as H repays you in kind.”
It is important for all of us to keep the mitzvos which will lead us to maysim tovim. For those who are not familiar with mitzvos, we should still have a positive relationship with all and when possible be a wonderful role model and convey the beauty of our Torah and mitzvos. Doing gemilus chasadim, making a Kiddush H, being kind to one and all no matter of one’s background is important. We all have a responsibility to understand our own faith, our religion, our Torah and way of life. However, we must always be a shining example of what H wants from us. To do that appropriately, we ourselves must be knowledgeable in the Taryag Mitzvos and to do things al pi haTorah and in the most meaningful way we can do so which could only bring us to live lesheim Shamayim.
From Kol Dodi on the Torah by Rabbi David Feinstien zt”l Artscroll Judica Classics. Meshorah Publications Ltd. Parshas Vaeschanan Pages 264-265 “Hear, O Israel: H is our G, H, the One and Only (6;4) “Why does the Torah require us to make a public proclamation- Hear, O Israel? Why would it not be enough for each Jew simply to make a personal affirmation of his belief in H ‘s unity-H is our G, H, the One and Only?
The answer is that everyone sees H in a different way, depending on his wisdom, his nature and his experiences in life. Some are more afraid of H’s ability to punish, others are enthused by His mercy, others focus on His glory. If we were to make only a personal declaration, it could be thought that each individual is speaking only about his personal perception of H. By proclaiming publicly that all His ways and manifestations are One, we affirm that even though everyone has a different understanding of Him, all those differing perceptions of His ways show us His unified glory. “Hear, O Israel, H, Who each person sees in a different way, is One.” It is all His glory.”
Parshas Eikev Page 267 “And you will say in your heart, “My strength and the power of my hand made me this wealth.” You shall remember H, your G, for it is He Who gives you strength to make wealth (8:17, 18). “How fortunate is the person who is given the strength to provide for his own needs, without having to ask H to intervene overtly in his affairs. This is what H wants of us, and those who achieve this goal are indeed blessed.
Such a person, however, is in danger of forgetting that, in spite of surface appearance, really all of his strength and all of his wealth come from H. This is why the Torah has to remind him that what he has is the greatest present H can give anyone- the ability to do for himself.”
Rabbis, Rebbetzins and Chaplains are entering the “busy season” from Elul through Shimini Atzeres responding to millions of shailos pertaining to halachos, and how to be inspired in our way of life. We should have tremendous appreciation to the Ribono shel Olam for all that we know that H does for us, and all that we do not know what He does for us. For the millions of Jews throughout the world, it is a time of reflections, of introspection of reestablishing a renewed spirit and to develop an even closer kesher, relationship with H. But in all actuality, H is there for us every day and night of the year, not just before the Yomim Noraim, the High Holy Days of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur nor between and during the chagim of Succos and Shimini Atzeres.. There are many mitzvos and tefilos that only pertain to specific times of the year as there are during specific times of the day and night. The diverse mitzvos we can do is outstanding. We just started a new mesechta Kiddushin for the daily Daf Yomi and there are so many other areas of Torah learning that can enhance our lives and the lives of all those who we offer our care to. The most important is to convey our love of H and His love for us and how we can enhance all of our lives with achdus, maysim tovim and Kiddusha, holiness in our lives and the beauty of our Torah.
Sincerely, Rabbi Yehuda Blank