Rabbi Yehuda (Leonard) Blank MS, BCC
Vice President of Professional Development and External Affairs
Rabbinical Alliance of America/Igud HaRabbonim
***Thursday October 12, 2023, Tishrei 27, 5784***
To be resilient.
H knows what we are thinking and what are feelings are.
We cannot and we must not give up hope.
I was going to write about another personal reflection and another “other side of the bed” recent experiences that were very positive. But my heart was not into writing anything of a personal reflection, no matter how meaningful it was as my heart is filled with deep emotions, tears and prayers for Israel- our Eretz Yisrael. I join with Jews who are uniting with immense achdus from all corners of the globe and from all facets of our Jewish nation. All praying to H for a refuah for those who have been injured, for the IDF for their safety and success and for the hostages- toddlers, children, parents, grandparents, men and women of all ages. None of us even want to think of the atrocities they are going through by the terrorists. We are also mourning the hundreds of men, women and children of all ages who were brutely murdered in cold blood. Innocent civilians as well as police officers and soldiers. The outpouring support and prayers from the non-Jewish world are remarkable. In Israel we are witnessing the banding together of Israelis coming together as never before with tremendous conviction to support, defend and hopefully will remove any of those who wish to bring harm to Israel. The response of hundreds of thousands of members of the IDF within a short period of time has also been remarkable. From all divisions of the IDF wherever they may be to respond to active duty, or for many who want to volunteer however possible seeking means of travel from their present locations has been phenomenal. Talmidim and talmidos in yeshivos, day schools and Beis Yaakovs in every beis medrash and seminary in addition to their Tehillim and tefilos are learning extra for Acheinu kol Beis Yisrael. Many have curtailed bein hazmanim as a zchus for the injured, the hostages, for the safety and success of the IDF and for all of Eretz Yisrael. I have copied a very moving story about Simchas Torah in Waterbury and about the response regarding a bochur finding out in the middle of hakafos regarding having to report to active duty in Israel. From this weeks Matzav. October 9, 2023
The Moment it Hit Home
By Rabbi Moshe Dov Heber
Simchas Torah in Waterbury is beautiful in multiple ways. So many of our homegrown bochurim are home sharing their Simchas Torah with their families and the children of the community. All our shuls are packed with guests who have come to join in the Simchas Torah of a young and vibrant community.
On the morning of Shemini Atezres we read in Koheles “There is a time for war and a time for peace.” We started hearing the reports of the terrible tragedies in Eretz Yisroel. Following davening, there was an announcement and Tehillim was said with fervor for our brothers and sisters in Eretz Yisroel. It meant something, but yet at the same time it felt so distant.
That night, Simchas Torah began with the beautiful Hakafos in Yeshiva Gedolah. Men, bochurim and children were dancing together celebrating our precious jewel, the Torah. There were circles of boys with their rebbeim and circles of fathers with sons.
Unbeknownst to most there, a bochur in the yeshiva had stepped out. Levi was currently learning well in the yeshiva but was a sergeant in the Golan. He was told by the posek that he must call to see if he needs to report. In the dorms adjacent to the yeshiva, Levi was making these calls figuring out his plan of action.
In the middle of hakofos, Levi walked in with a serious face. His expression showed a sense of tension and trepidation. The rebbeim, bochurim, and community members slowly gathered around him to hear what was going on. Levi told of the situation and his need to report as soon as possible.
A community member gave him a sefer Torah. Levi stood in the middle of the circle, clutching the sefer Torah, surrounded by so many who cared for him. The dancing then stopped.
Those gathered around him began singing “Acheinu” over and over. This was followed by songs of belief, protection and salvation.
The war was for real.
Levi landed Monday morning in Eretz Yisroel. Please be mispallel for Levi Yitzchok ben Dina Miriam and all those who are putting their lives on the line to protect our nation, as well as acheinu kol beis Yisrael, hanisunim b’tzara u’vashivyah.
Rabbi Heber can be reached via email at email@example.com
From Darash Moshe: A selection of Rabbi Moshe Feinstein’s choice comments on the Torah by Artscroll Judaica Series Mesorah Publications Ltd. Parshas Bereishis Page 24 “But Noah found grace (6:8) “If this refers to Noah’s righteousness it would seem more direct to attribute his being saved to that quality, rather than the fact that he found favor in the eyes of H.
However, in truth it was this favor as expressed in his positive attributes and fine character which prepared him to rise above all his contemporaries and emerge as a righteous person.
And that is what is written (6:9) These are the offspring of Noah, Noah was a righteous man, etc. -that this grace was the progenitor of the offspring that was righteousness and perfection.”
From Kol Dodi in the Torah by Rabbi David Feinstein Artscroll Judaica Series Mesorah Publications Ltd. Parshas Bereishis Pages 20-21 “And there was evening and there was morning, a second day (1:8) “ The phrase And H saw that it was good, appears in the account of each of the six days of creation, except for that of the second day. Rashi says that the word good does not appear in the account of the second day because the work of creating the waters above the firmament and those below the firmament was not completed until the third day when the lower waters were sent down to form the oceans. The goodness of a creation is not realized until it is finished. Thus the Torah says twice on the third day. And H saw that it was good, once for the work of the waters, which was finished then, and once for the creation of vegetation.
There remains a question, however. Why did H put off completing the work of the waters until the third day? We cannot say that He did not have enough time for it; each creation was accomplished by an utterance (see Avos 5:1), which could have taken only an instant, and certainly did not need a whole day.
The Sages said (Shabbos 156a) that the work of the second day was not called “good”, because on that day machlokes (strife) came into being. When H created the firmament to separate the waters beneath it from the waters above, all the water wanted to be in the lofty heavens above the firmament, and there was strife among the particles of water. Finally, H ordered half of them to go below the firmament, and the “unlucky” ones were resentful of their more fortunate fellows. This is why the word “good” is not used in describing the work of the second day.
From the way H handled this conflict, we can learn an important lesson in how to deal with our fellow humans. Once He saw that bad feelings had been aroused, He stopped what He was doing and gave everyone time to cool off, as the Sages said (Avos 4:23), Do not placate your fellow when he is angry. This is why the work of the water was not completed until the third day, when the water below the firmament had come to accept, and even be thankful for, its lot.
So too, we must learn to be sensitive to someone else’s feelings, especially if he is not happy with his lot in life. When we have no choice but to impose an unpleasant decision on someone, we should think of his feelings and give him time to reflect on what we are doing. Hopefully by the next day, or next week, when he has had time to become used to the idea (and we have found ways of presenting it to him in a favorable light), he will agree that it is good.”
We are mispallel there will be a safe outcome and ultimately there will truly be Shalom al Yisrael and Chaveirim kol Yisrael with a love for H and the Torah. All will be united with righteousness and good feelings for one another.
Let us continue to be mispallel for a refuah sheleimah for all the injured, a safe return of all the hostages, and for all of the IDF to be safe. We cannot and we must not give up hope. We are all in the hands of the Ribono shel Olam.
Let us take upon ourselves every opportunity to improve our lives with goodness, with chesed and with kindness. Let our lives be filled with our Torah and mitzvos. Let there be Shalom Bayis and may we be worthy ambassadors of H helping and guiding those we minister and care for with hearts of gold. We are a resilient people and hopefully with H’s help will overcome all challenges. Our love for H and our kesher with H Yisbarach we pray will continue to grow closer and stronger bringing us to the ultimate Geula Shelimah Bemheira Veyameinu.
Sincerely, Rabbi Yehuda Blank.