Welcome to the weekly newsletter of Igud HaRabbonim, the Rabbinical Alliance of America, in which we share news for and about members, including communal news, announcements, publications, Divrei Torah, press releases and media mentions.
In this newsletter:
• Mazel Tov
• Divrei Torah: Ki Sisa
• Chaplaincy Commission Update
• Upcoming Yahrtzeits 18 Adar 1-24 Adar 1
• Jewish Voice: Rosh Chodesh Seudah Honoring Rabbi Tannenbaum zt”l
• Rosh Chodesh Adar Aleph 5782 Seudah and Conference: Video
Please let us know about your family simchos and l"a aveilus, book publications and career changes or milestones, so we can share as chaveirim our life events. Send updates to email@example.com.
Rabbi Yehuda (Leonard) Blank MS, BCC Director of Programming, Chaplaincy Commission and External Affairs Rabbinical Alliance of America/Igud HaRabbonim 917-446-2126 firstname.lastname@example.org ***Thursday, February 17 Adar Rishon 16, 5782***
FOR RABBI’S, REBBITZENS AND CHAPLAINS A CONTINUATION OF THE IMPORTANCE OF LISTENING NOT JUST HEARING. THE IMPORTANCE OF FEELINGS FOR THE PERSON ONE IS LISTENING TO. THE IMPORTANCE TO VALIDATE, SHOW CONCERN WITH SINCERITY. WHAT A CHESED – WHAT A MITZVA! *** “THE GLITTERNG WORLD OF CHESED” “THE SKILL OF LISTENING”
A CONTINUATION OF THE IMPORTANCE OF ENCOURAGEMENT.
NO ONE IS PERFECT. EVERYONE CAN FAIL AT SOMETHING, BUT NOT TO GIVE
UP HOPE. TO FAIL AT SOMETHING DOES NOT MAKE A PERSON A FAILURE.
NOT EVEN MOSHE RABBEINU!
“EVERY EFFORT, EVEN THAT WHICH ENDS IN FAILURE, IS REWARDED BY H”
“LEARNING AND FORGETTING”
RAV AVARAHAM PAM ztl
In previous articles, I have discussed the importance of listening, empathy, sincerity, feelings for others and genuinely caring for another person with one’s heart. The importance of not giving up hope, not to be discouraged. No one is perfect. Failing at something does not make a person a failure The following are the thoughts and wisdom of Rabbi Paysach Krohn and also Rav Avraham Pam ztl.
“The Skill of Listening” by Rabbi Paysach Krohn
More often than not, a chesed is performed through a positive act: helping someone physically or financially, guiding someone with sensitive words, or teaching someone by disseminating knowledge and information. However, there is another aspect to chesed and that is refraining from doing anything: just listening.
There are two types of listeners: those who listen only until they can state their opinions and those who listen attentively to truly understand the feelings, the emotions, and thought process of the speaker. Often, when people are in pain or anguished, all they need to do is to talk. They need someone to listen to them, validated them, and respect their perspective, not to get advice, and certainly not to be disagreed with.
A good listener can ask questions gently to clarify a matter, a good listener can ask for more details if it is appropriate. A good listener with a well time nod can validate the speaker’s emotion. If people feel and injustice has befallen them, let them vent, let them relieve their pain by expressing their reaction to what occurred. Part of chesed is being a listener
In business, it is often wise to just listen if someone presents a new idea or a new way of doing things; you may learn something, you may gain a perspective you never thought of. It could eventually enhance your own life.
When you listen to someone, make eye contact. Do not allow your mind to wander to other thoughts. Do not eavesdrop on another conversation while you are bound to this one. Pay attention, repeat a phrase the speaker has said, or nod your head and softly say, “Yes, yes,” or I understand.” But doing so, you are necessarily agreeing with the person; you are simply indicating that you are listening.
Studies show that people remember only 25 to 50 percent of what they hear. Much of that is due to the lack of concentration when listening. There is a great difference between hearing and listening. Your auditory skills are working even when you are sleep. A sleeping mother can hear her infant’s soft cry. Almost anyone would hear a police car’s wail while asleep and certainly most people hear a morning alarm clock. Even as you are reading these words, stop to realize that you might also be hearing the hum of florescent lights, the flow of traffic outside, birds, chirping, or children playing in another room.
However, hearing is not listening- listening is attentiveness and that means even over the phone, when it’s possible to do many other things while the speaker has no idea that your attention is elsewhere.
Influential people are great listeners. They absorb much of what is said to them and then can filter what is worth preserving and what is not.
When one listens attentively one can hear the music that engulfs the spoken words. Is it real anger? Is it Conciliatory? Is it lighthearted? Thus, the ear, it is a function of the hear, and that is what Shlomo HaMelech asked H to grant him: a listening ear– an understanding heart. (Melchim I 3:9) May we all be granted that gift as well.” (Artscroll and the Flatbush Jewish Journal page 38 February 10, 2022)
“Ánd He gave Moshe [the Luchos] when He finished speaking to him on Mount Sinai (Shemos 31:18) On the seventh day of Sivan 2448 a day after the Torah was given to the Jewish nation on Har Sinai, Moshe ascended to Heaven. He remained there for forty days while H taught him the entire Torah (see Nedarim 38a). Despite the unparalleled level of Moshe’s intellect and memory, he “learned and forgot, learned and forgot,” How could a human being comprehend the infinite wisdom of the Creator? Moshe felt great frustration from his inability to absorb and remember the entire Torah until H finally “gave him the knowledge as a gift” (see Rashi [31:18] for a slightly different interpretation).] Many commentators discuss the obvious question; If H knew that Moshe would not be able to absorb the entire Torah, and ultimately it would be necessary to present it to him as a gift, why didn’t He give it to him right away? Why did Moshe have to spend forty days in Heaven struggling with a task which H knew would eventually end in failure? The Ashlich explains that H chose Moshe as the mekabel haTorah the one who would receive the Torah from Him, and who would transmit it to all future generations of Jews. To be worthy of this privilege, Moshe had to endure the great emotional pain and frustration of “learning and forgetting” the Torah that he was taught in Heaven for forty days. His distress was undoubtedly compounded by the realization that whatever he remembered he could teach to the nation; whatever he forgot would be lost forever. Despite everything, Moshe preserved in his desire to absorb the wisdom of the Torah and did not give up. This earned him Divine intervention and H “gave it to him as a gift.” Moshe Rabbeinu was the teacher par excellence of the Jewish people. He taught the nation the Torah in its entirety. He even transmitted the penetrating insights that every perceptive student in future generations would innovate (see Shemos Rabbah 47:1). He earned this great privilege by overcoming the frustration which comes to a person who feels that his efforts are but an exercise in futility.
All human beings forget- this includes even the exceedingly rare genius who has been endowed with a photographic memory. In fact, one of the major stumbling blocks on the road toward Torah greatness is the feeling of despondency of a person who forgets much of what he learns. If so, he thinks to himself, what is the purpose of expending so much time, effort, and energy in trying to learn? (continued) Sefer Chassidim (1164) of comfort to one who is frustrated by his inability to remember what he learns. He says that if a person struggles in this world to understand Torah, even if he lacks the intellectual capacity to comprehend, he should not be discouraged, In the World to Come, when he sits in the Heavenly Academy, he will be able to understand the Torah with which he struggled in this world. His efforts will be richly rewarded.
These thoughts should serve to encourage a person to overcome his feelings of dejection for forgetting what he learns. Every human being, even one as great as Moshe Rabbeinu, has to deal with this. When one realizes that all his efforts, even those which end in failure, will be rewarded, it makes the task much easier to bear.
The aforementioned is not limited to the learning and forgetting of Torah. It applies to any and every effort expended in the pursuit of spiritual improvement. A plumber, electrician, or computer technician generally will not charge a fee if their attempts at repairing something are not successful. Yet, in the spiritual realm, things are different. Every effort, even that which ends in failure, is rewarded by H. A person should not become discouraged by failure in attempting to improve one’s davening or middos, do chesed or even propose a shidduch. This thought is underscored by the Mishnah in Pirkei Avos (2:19) which says. “Know that your Employer can be relied upon to pay you the ‘wage’ of your labors.” Success is dependent on the Will of H. Effort depends on man.” (Rav Pam on Chumash by Rabbi Shalom Smith Excerpts from pages 105 -108 Parshas Ki Sisa Mesorah Publishing Ltd) ************************************************************************************************************
What awesome responsibilities chaplains have ministering to those in their care. Or for a rabbi and rebbetzin for whom a congregant seeks advice or guidance from. A chaplain, rabbi or rebbetzin can have a tremendous impact on a person’s life- present and future. We too must be mispallel to the Ribono she Olam for the right direction to take, the appropriate words to share, the best advice to give or not to give any advice. To have the chachmas, to know when it really is best just to listen and not feel it is necessary to impart one’s wisdom. Sincerity, honesty, empathy, genuinely caring for someone from one’s heart and not just to fulfill an obligation or to be “yotzer zein.” Kindness is so important. To genuinely care for an individual(s) seeking your help, your support or just your ear.
Chaplain’s, rabbi’s and rebbetzin’s also have feelings and emotions. It does take a lot of effort, stamina, patience, dealing with someone who is not an easy person to get along with, to satisfy, or just needs a lot of time. It is also not easy to convey trust, confidence, and positive feelings with someone who feels he/she has failed or not been successful and considers her/himself a failure. We all could find something we might have done or said that we regretted. However, we find the strength to climb out of that hole, persevere, and go on with life. (See my last article with quotes from Rabbi Dr. Abraham Twerski re: self-esteem).
After learning and forgetting the Torah H was teaching Moshe Rabbeinu, He gave him the gift of knowledge which gave him the confidence to teach Klal Yisrael and that he was not a failure he thought he was. How special it is for chaplain’s, rabbi’s and rebbetzin’s to help uplift someone’ spirits and for that person to feel you believe in him as a precious human being. We look to H, His relationship with Moshe Rabbeinu and all that He has done for the Klal Yisrael. In Parshas Ki Sisa we learn how precious the Benei Yisrael was to Moshe and of course the Ribono shel Olam despite the occurrence of the Eigel Hazahav. We learn of the ongoing conversation between the Ribino shel Olam and Moshe Rabbeinu and how He taught him the 13 Attributes of Mercy which we say even to this day. Chesed shel Emes, kind deeds of truth. Kind deeds with love. In Talmud Makkos 24a “And the love of kindness” This refers to the love of doing deeds of kindness. (Micha 6:8) This one of Micha’s three ethical rules.
In my last article, I wrote about professional Jewish chaplain’s caring for others and respecting each other. I also shared some of the important aspects of CPE. For someone who wishes to become a Board Certified Chaplain must meet specific requirements. There are certain positions that might not require being a Board Certified Chaplain but might require having taken CPE. I mentioned in previous articles, CPE is the gold standard and becoming a Board Certified Chaplain means one has reached an important level of proficiency in chaplaincy. To maintain being a BCC, there are continuing education and other requirements as with other professions. Chaplains do many gemilus chasadim and can truly make a difference in people’s lives.
All of Klal Yisrael can make a Kiddush H helping each other sanctifying His name under the banner of Torah, Avoda and Gemilus Chasdim. Let us all be mispallel there should be Shalom al Yisrael, to have achdus, always remembering Am Yisrael Chai and Chaveirim Kol Yisrael. We all need each other. We hope there should be peace in the world and to overcome adversity. May our prayers be answered and may all those who need a refuah sheleima, simchas hachayim, happiness, joy, parnassah, of course good health and for those who wish to have new and caring relationships, be zoche for all to be fulfilled. And of course, the coming of Moshiach, a prayer Jews around the world pray for.
Thank you. Sincerely, Rabbi Yehuda Blank
THE LATEST ENHANCEMENT TO THE RABBINICAL ALLIANCE OF AMERICA WEBSITE. TO LOCATE ONE OF MY PREVIOUS ARTICLES, WEBINARS, PRESENTATIONS OR PROGRAMS, LOOK IN THE CHAPLAINCY SECTION AND CLICK DOWN FOR THE TOPIC YOU ARE INTERESTED IN READING ABOUT, THERE IS ALSO ANOTHER LOCATION TO CLICK ON FOR PREVIOUS WEBINARS, PRESENTATIONS, PROGRAMS. THERE ARE OTHER TOPICS OF INTEREST. NO CHARGE FOR LOOKING.
The Jewish Voice, February 13, 2022, covers RAA/Igud’s Rosh Chodesh Adar Aleph seudah and conference honoring Rav Gershon Tannenbaum zt”l’s yahrzeit and featuring Staten Island District Attorney Michael E. McMahon
Edited by: TJVNews.com On January 31, 2022, Rosh Chodesh Adar Aleph, the Rabbinical Alliance of America/Igud HaRabbonim hosted Richmond County District Attorney Michael E. McMahon at its monthly seudah and conference. The conference was held in observance of the sixth yahrzeit of Rabbi Gershon Tannenbaum, ZT’l, who faithfully served the RAA/Igud as…
On January 31, 2022, Rosh Chodesh Adar Aleph, the Rabbinical Alliance of America/Igud HaRabbonim hosted Richmond County District Attorney Michael E. McMahon at its monthly seudah and conference. The conference was held in observance of the sixth yahrzeit of Rabbi Gershon Tannenbaum, ZT’l, who faithfully served the RAA/Igud as its longstanding Menahel/Director. District Attorney McMahon addressed the rabbinical gathering, discussing “Public Safety Strategies for a Stronger New York City.”
This important event was hosted at the Agudath Israel of Borough Park West, also known as the 9th Avenue Agudah, where our illustrious and esteemed member Rabbi Shmuel Wohlberg serves as rabbi. Rabbi Wohlberg’s father-in-law, the revered Rabbi Dr. Bernard Weinberger, ZT’L, was a giant in the Orthodox rabbinate who served for decades as the longtime rabbi of the Young Israel of Brooklyn. Rabbi Weinberger, ZT’L, was from the early members who helped found the Rabbinical Alliance of America and held the distinction and honor of being one of its early presidents.
Rabbi Chaim Israel, president of the Agudath Israel of Borough Park West shared, fond memories of Rabbi Tannenbaum, ZT’L, who helped found the 9th Avenue Agudah and served as one of its presidents. “What made Rabbi Tannenbaum, ZT’L, unique and special was his ability not to give up and his sharp intellect and loving heart that always found solutions. As a community and as a synagogue, we were able to navigate through the challenges we faced and avert or minimize the complexity of community issues thanks to the patience, tolerance, understanding, vision and love of Rabbi Tannenbaum, ZT’L. We genuinely miss him; he was a rabbi and leader who had the patience and demeanor of an angel, whose sagely advice helped save the day many a time. We truly miss him and Klal Yisroel truly misses him. We in Borough Park were especially fortunate to have this righteous man live among us. The void he left by leaving this world has not and cannot be filled. May his memory be a blessing to his family and all of Israel.”
Rabbi Tannenbaum served as the rabbi of Congregation B’nai Israel of Linden Heights, known as Borough Park’s 9th Avenue Shul. Rabbi Tannenbaum was active with the Borough Park Bikur Cholim, assisting patients, physicians and Maimonides hospital staff with the objective of obtaining the best hospital stay and care for members of the local community. “We at the RAA/Igud do not know where Rabbi Tannenbaum found the time and energy, but he balanced his professional career at the RAA/Igud, masterfully led B’nai Israel and, with patience and love, cared for the sick at Maimonides. Since he lived near the hospital, if you could not find Rabbi Tannenbaum at his study or home you were sure to find him at Maimonides helping someone. That was the type of rabbi he was, committed to the welfare of every person he was able to help,” stated Rabbi Yaakov Klass, Presidium Chairman of RAA/Igud and close friend of Rabbi Tannenbaum.
Rabbi Mendy Mirocznik, executive vice-president of the RAA/Igud, opened the yahrzeit observance by thanking Maimonides Medical Center President & CEO Kenneth Gibbs for sponsoring the dinner. Rabbi Mirocznik emphasized how appreciative the RAA/Igud is for “the exceptional medical care and service that Maimonides provides the community. From the miracle of childbirth through the last breath of a person, Maimonides is there for the community. That commitment starts from the top, President Gibbs and Executive Vice-President for Patient Relations and Special Assistant to the President of Maimonides Center Douglas Jablon, who are committed to excellence and constantly strive to raise that bar even higher. There is no need to wonder why Maimonides Medical Center is a world-class hospital.”
Mirocznik further commented, “the Rabbinical Alliance of America deeply values Maimonides Medical Center and we look forward to our continued relationship with the important agenda of keeping the community healthy and well. We appreciate all that Maimonides does and cannot compliment enough the herculean efforts demonstrated by Maimonides Medical Center during the time of pandemic. The hospital plays a major role in our ability to transition to a healthier normal and these efforts are deeply appreciated and applauded by the Rabbinical Alliance of America. When we close our eyes, we shudder to think of the frightening reality of what could have happened, Heaven forbid, if not for Maimonides Medical Center’s medical leadership during the nightmarish, dark days of Covid. We pray that the Almighty continue to shine His glory on Maimonides Medical Center so that the hospital shall continue in its sacred mission as a house of healing and a beacon of hope and inspiration for years to come.”
The keynote speaker was Richmond County District Attorney Michael E. McMahon who discussed, “Public Safety Strategies for a Stronger New York City.” Prior to District Attorney McMahon’s remarks, Scott Maurer, CEO and executive vice-president of the Staten Island Council of Jewish Organizations (COJO-SI) and co-chairman of the Richmond County District Attorney’s Hate Crime Task Force, introduced District Attorney McMahon and described District Attorney McMahon, “as a visionary who truly cares about criminal justice and fairness.” Maurer continued that “in 2018, in the aftermath of the October shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, District Attorney McMahon sprung into action and formed together withCOJO-SI a Hate Crime Task Force. The objective is to fight the alarming rise in antisemitism and serious spike in hate crimes. To his great credit, the District Attorney has made a powerful impact and it is an honor for me to call him our community’s friend who truly cares about justice and fairness to all.”
District Attorney McMahon said, “It is important that we always keep in mind that for criminal justice to work there must be a sense of balance. We are missing that balance now, for too many people you either have to be anti-police and anti-law enforcement or pro-police to the strict letter of the law with no element of understanding. Both approaches are losing the vision of the balance of a sense of fairness. Our job is to find the balance that is the key to ensuring public safety and fair justice for all.”
District Attorney McMahon emphasized the importance of enforcing laws to keep people safe but also implementing outreach programs to prevent crimes before they happen. He spoke about the corrosive effect of lawlessness and the need to prosecute hate crimes to the fullest extent under the law.
Upon completing his presentation, District Attorney McMahon presented to Rabbi Chaim Zev Tannenbaum and Rabbi Yitzchok Dov Tannenbaum a certificate for their illustrious father Rabbi Gershon Tannenbaum, ZT’L, posthumously recognizing his great and outstanding work on behalf of the Rabbinical Alliance of America.
Also participating in the memorial for Rabbi Tannenbaum, ZT’L, was Rabbi Yehuda (Leonard) Blank, director of Programing Chaplaincy Commission and External Affairs RAA/Igud, and former Housing Police Chaplain, who gave a heartfelt invocation and remarks; Rabbi Moish Schmerler, administrative director RAA/Igud; Rabbi Moshe Mandel, Rabbi, Khal Bais Mordechai of Flatbush and close friend of Rabbi Gershon Tannenbaum, ZT’L, who presented a special Dvar Halacha in his memory; Rabbi Dovid Katz, Menahel/Director, RAA/Igud; and Rabbi Chaim Zev Tannenbaum and Rabbi Yitzchok Dov Tannenbaum, the sons of Rabbi Gershon Tannenbaum, ZT’L.