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:
• Divrei Torah: Ki Seitzei
• Chaplaincy Commission Update
• Arutz Sheva: Transforming the delta variant and more
• QJL: Annual Chomer L’Drush
• 5TJT: Annual Chomer L’Drush
• Upcoming Yahrtzeits 13 Elul-20 Elul
• Rabbi Hecht: The Cure for the Delta Variant & More
• Chai Elul Siyum HaShas, August 25th 5:30pm
• RAA Membership Renewal
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.
From the desk of Rabbi Leonard (Yehuda) 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 August 19, 2021
HOPE IS ON THE HORIZON
AND A GLIMPSE OF PERSONAL REFLECTIONS
(Commentary of Haftaras Shoftim Isaiah from the Stone Edition Chumash Artscroll Series Published by Mesorah Publications Ltd page 197). “The prophet alternates between vivid descriptions of suffering and lyrical evocations of joy and fulfillment for this is a microcosm of Israel’s history; no matter how dire the situation, hope is always at hand. Indeed, it is a principle of Israel’s faith that Messiah can come at any moment, and if so, while pondering the causes of exile and pain, we must always remember that G declares to us constantly, “It is I, I am He Who comforts you.” The day will yet come when Israel will hear G calling out joyously to Jerusalem, “Wake up! Wake up! Don your strength O Zion, don the garments of your splendor, O Jerusalem… “Exile is most painful when there is no tomorrow, but not when we take to heart G remembers us and longs for our return. Prophecies such as these have firmed Jews when their enemies tried to break them. Israel’s national existence has always been brightened by the knowledge that G is close at hand, longing for us to let Him bring the herald to proclaim, “Peace!” “Good!” “Salvation!” Though this refers to Klal Yisrael as a whole, it surely can also refer to the existence, present and future daily lives of each of us. Life can be painful in so many ways. Spiritually, emotionally, and yes, even physically. Sometimes we can feel depressed, but not necessarily clinically depressed. Depression, anxiety, anxiousness are just some of the clinical aspects that can cause various symptoms having an impact on a person. There are so many meaningful programs and presentations that have been addressing the major effects of COVID and the variants that seem to be popping up. But if that wasn’t enough to rattle one’s nervousness, there are a host of other occurring situations locally, nationwide, and globally. As if that is not enough, in addition to people being fearful of walking the streets in neighborhoods that always seemed so safe, let alone being concerned about the various illnesses, variants, viruses and soon the flu season, we are now hearing or reading about possible terrorism due to the events in Afghanistan. In my last weeks article, I shared various questions and doubts people are having due to the viruses, variants, and the concerns many have on the effects on their lives. Just yesterday Ohel Children’s Home and Family Services had a Therazoom (Support for families during challenging times) “Covid and its Variants: Understanding New Risks and Managing New Anxieties featuring Rabbi Dr. Aaron Glatt and Dr. Norman Blumenthal. But what about the zillions of other daily concerns of life rabbanim, rebbetzin’s and chaplains deal with that are presented by those they offer care to and are sought after for their guidance, understanding and meaningful inspiration/ chizuk. Of course, there are reasons to encourage or collaborate with a mental health professional when appropriate. Shidduchim, parnasah, family situations, Shalom Bayis, business concerns and so much more. Who do we all turn to? Well, I just mentioned some where those who seek direction- the rav, the rebbetzin, the chaplain, the therapist, our friends, our mentors, those we trust and confide in. Most of all of course is the Ribono Shel Olam. “It is I, I am He who comforts you” “The prophet (Isaiah) alternates between vivid descriptions of suffering and lyrical evocations of joy and fulfillment for this is a microcosm of Israel’s history; no matter how dire the situation, hope is always at hand. It is no easy task bringing comfort, joy, and hope to one who is suffering. We must never give up. But we ourselves must have that emunah and betachem if we are to convey from our hearts the love H does have for Klal Yisrael and for each of us even during stressful times. The is so much negativity surrounding us with all kinds of reports we hear and read about practically every day (Thank G for Shabbos and Yom Tov). Yet, there is much to find simcha. Just reading about the joy of the Gerer Rebbe coming to the USA, to New York bringing with him simchas hachayim, bringing and imbuing feelings of kedusha, spiritual uplifting just by his presence, but especially because he wanted to share not only with his Chasidim, but with other as well. With all the turmoil in the world, he brings to us serenity, holiness, and goodness. I am a Misnaged. I have relatives, friends and others who are Chasidic. When working with hospice, I had colleagues who were Chasidic and had many patients, care givers and family members who were Chasidic. I saw and felt the tremendous emunah and betachen they had and the love they had for their heritage, their customs/minhagim and especially for their Rebbe. I had patients who were Holocaust survivors and had pediatric cancer hospice patients. My pediatric patients came from many backgrounds. But of the Chasidic children I witnessed a unique and loving way of dealing and accepting life, challenges, and difficulties in every moment of life by the parents and family members of those children. I was honored to have been invited to family simchas and receiving special brachos they the families held close to them and shared with me. I had patients throughout New York City and Long Island. No matter of the different customs, their minhagim, I found tremendous emunah, faith some in mysterious ways, but genuine. What I truly found rewarding was the comradeship, the sharing of caring for the patients no matter what their background might have been by the other members of the entire hospice staff at MJHS. Each population of hospice patients were special, but working with pediatrics was indeed challenging, but rewarding giving care, love, touching the lives and being touched by everyone especially the children of all backgrounds.
There are many personal reflections I shared in past months. What keeps me going I am still asked? The future, day after day, to seek happiness, joy and meaning of life. Just this past Sunday a dear chaver of mine got married to a wonderful woman who even before their marriage was bringing simchas hachayim into their lives. A new beginning for both Boruch H. They have been a wonderful inspiration to me as have been by my other dear friends and family. But their simcha has brought much brightness into my own life. A neighbor who I have been spending time with and with his sister may she have a refuah shelaima, after many months we became Oorah Torahmates. Aside from the privilege of bringing them different foods for Shabbos which I pray gives her strength including challah, wine for him, and other Shabbos delights, they make their brachos bringing blessings to each other. They too are an inspiration . A famous saying I heard many times, “life is not a bowl of cherries”. We all know about the pits inside the cherries, but the delicious taste of the cherries and good for you too. The fruit makes up for the pit inside which is discarded. We all want happiness. But what is happiness ? There is a saying, beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. Degrees and types of happiness can be interpreted by everyone. In these days of Elul, we are already being mispallel for happiness and for whatever we are mispallel for before the Yomim Noraim. We do not have to look any further than our tefilos which describe our desire of relationship with the Ribono Shel Olam, seeking His kindness, His goodness, and his forgiveness. We wish each other a kesiva vechasima tova and a shana tova umesuka. The following are the last nine sentences of the tefilla Hodu L H kiruv vishmo we recite every shacharis. “Save Your nation and bless Your inheritance; tend them and raise them up forever. Our soul longed for H; our help and our shield are He. For in Him will be gladdened our hearts; for in the Name of His Holiness we trusted. May Your kindness, H be upon us, just as we awaited You. Show us H Your kindness, and Your salvation grant us. Arise! Assist us! And redeem us for the sake of Your kindness! I am H your G, who raised you from the land of Egypt, Open wide your mouth and I will fill it. Praiseworthy is the people that such is their lot; praiseworthy is the people that H is their G. But as for me, in Your kindness I trust; exult will my heart in Your salvation. I will sing to H for He has dealt kindly with me.” (Artscroll Series Siddur Mesorah publications Ltd).
May we all be zoche to be mekadeish H, to find goodness in each other, to instill and imbue achdus, emunah, faith and trust in H, with all our hearts and souls. May we all be zoche to find the happiness joy and meaning of life. May all those who seek a refuah sheleimah, a shidduch, parnasah, shalom, and simchas hachayim we pray with His kindness. May our love for Him bring us all the brachos we seek for ourselves, for each other and for Klal Yisrael. Let us find in our hearts the ability to extinguish loshan hora and sinas chinam. Let the flame of spirituality grow strong and bright and let us be happy not just for ourselves, but for others as well. We must do as we wish for H does for us, chesed, loving kindness, helping others, being sincere, no hidden agendas. My mantra, “no strings attached except my tzitzis”. Words alone cannot bring or instill happiness. Often it means putting effort to make it happen.
Let us always remember where H is. There is a famous song many children would sing, H is here, H is there, H is truly everywhere, up, up, down, down, right, left and all around, here, there, and everywhere that is where He can be found, up, up, down, down, right, left and all around, here, there, and everywhere that is where He can be found. But there is one more place He can be found and that is in our heart”. When a person is feeling alone that maybe H is not with him/her, look up at the sky and see how the moon seems to follow you as you walk. So too, H is always with you.
This past parsha was Shoftim and the second word in the sedra is Shotrim. The name of the Jewish fraternal society of the NYC Housing Authority Police was the Shotrim Society. When I was the uniformed NYC Housing Authority Police Department Chaplain with the rank of Inspector, I was also the spiritual leader of the Shotrim Society. I mention this remembering the importance of being mekadeish H and being proud of who I was and what I represented. I wore my yarmulka with pride as I did my uniform. On either side of my lapel, I wore the Ten Commandments, the same as all military chaplains. Being an orthodox Jewish chaplain had at times certain challenges, but none that could not be resolved. In fact, there were many opportunities for being mekadeish H. The famous saying “where there is a will there is a way”. Whenever a person has an opportunity of being mekadeish H, of doing chasadim should grab that opportunity asap. Life goes on as well as changes in life hopefully for the best. A lot depends on how a person sees his or her life continuing and hopefully blossoming. All we must do is look hard enough and we can truly find hope in the horizon. A quote from Maurice Lamm’s the Power of Hope the One Essential of Life and Love by Maurice Lamm RA Rawson Associates Schriber Inc. “Looking for People Who Live on Hope? “Look around You” Hope is natural, We all posses it. It needs only to be uncovered, not discovered. “(page 23). The last sentence of LDovid H Ori “Place your hope in H, strengthen yourself and He will instill courage in your heart, and place your hope in H”. ( Artscroll series Siddur Mesorah publications)
I have often written about positive reflections. In our Rosh Chodesh benching we mention ahavas Torah and Yiras Shamayim. A rav can convey the essence of teshuva and to be fearful of sin, but a rav can also inspire with the love H has for Klal Yisrael and the love we have for Him. Our Torah, our religion, our faith has so much to offer every Jew with love and beauty. In chaplaincy, patients especially those with challenging diagnosis often will share their fear of death, will they be forgiven, what will death and dying be like, what will happen to their souls, is there a heaven and so forth. Chaplains cannot give a clean bill of forgiveness, but can share the love, kindness of H and that He is a forgiving G. There are patients even with less challenging diagnosis have fears and doubts and if there is a possibility of hope. I have shared some aspects of hope. A chaplain and a rav have the ability of comforting a person with their fears, whatever they may be, especially in the days of Elul and the Yomim Noraim.
In my forthcoming articles I will share some personal reflections how a chaplain and a rav could be an advocate for a patient, how diplomacy is important, how Chaim Aruchim and also the Director of Chaplaincy at MJHS were supportive and encouraging, how Disyata Dishmaya was so important and how much I continue to be inspired from my Rebbe, Rav Dovid ztkl who encouraged me to continue helping and caring for others. Amongst the many professionals I have worked with in my diverse positions, I have tremendous gratitude to a Mrs. Martha Pollock LCSW who I worked closely with and will share in my forthcoming article.
We could always find some sweetness in life, even amongst any bitterness one comes upon. Leshana Tovah Umesuka. Thank you. Sincerely, Rabbi Yehuda Blank
By Rabbi Yehoshua S. Hecht –
Beth Israel Chabad Norwalk CT. USA Dalet Elul 5781 – August 12, 2021
Be Your Own Judge
Judges and enforcement officers you shall place in all your gateways. (Deuteronomy 16:18)
The Sifsei Kohain (on Torah) says guard the seven gates of your body – your humanity.
Mind, Eyes, Mouth, Ears, Nose, Hands, Feet. The seven gateways in which humankind interacts with the outside world.
We need to judge for ourselves whether something is proper and good, or corrosive and injurious, and to be negated. Is this going to nurture the good within me, or will it feed the potential for evil that lurks within?
Judging alone is not enough, there must be the willpower to enforce our sense of right and wrong.
Defunding police enforcement is not an innovative idea at all.
Our judgement must be based on the objective opinion of Torat Chaim –teaching of life –the divinely ordained compass for living called Torah.
Adherence to the Torah is what assures that we live a life of Tikkun Olam B’Malchut Sha-dai –correcting and repairing the World with the sovereignty of G-Ds presence and thus fulfilling our share in partnership with Al-mighty G-D.
The purpose of our existence is to make this world a dwelling place for G-ds presence. (Midrash Tanchuma)
The Delta Variant – An Implied Message
At present the DELTA variant is taking up all the oxygen in the room. Wherever we turn mass media is soaking and marinating us in the fearful COVID 19 resurgence. The DELTA variant is a tricky and highly contagious option infecting not only the infirm and elderly but also the young and the healthy.
The holy Bal Shem Tov (Sefer Keter Shem Tov) tells us that all existence is by the word of G-d.
As King David says in Psalms (33:6 – 9) everything that exists – is through His word. The Hebrew letters are the vessels and agency through which the divine life force creates and sustains all that exists. Should these letters of Creation be removed by G-D, the consequence would be the end all existence including the concept of time and place.
The 22 Hebrew letters that make up the Aleph Bet (Biblical Hebrew) is the holy tongue as it is the language of G-d used in the creating of all existence and thus it through these very letters that all of creation derives its vitality and existence. This idea is elaborated upon in the TANYA by Rebbe Schneur Zalman of Liadi (Shaar Hayichud Vemunah)
Delta and Dalet Connecting the Dots
The Greek letter DELTA has its origin in the Hebrew alphabet – Dalet. Aleph, Bet, Gimmel, Dalet. Thus, the name Delta, is associated with the fourth letter of the holy tongue.
Delta, in the Arabic language, is the word that describes the rivers-mouth that forms the fertile Nile Delta, so famous in ancient history, as being the breadbasket of ancient Egypt.
The mouth of a river, or delta, allows for the inflow of nutrient rich soil to accumulate in the area that makes it super fertile for planting crops that sustain humankind.
The reader is familiar that the TORAH declares that we must guard ourselves from mimicking the abominations of Egypt, and the immorality that festered there. We dare not condone the sexual impropriety practiced in Egypt and in the land of Canaan. (Leviticus 18:2)
The Torah promises that when we adhere to of G-ds admonitions then “all the sicknesses and maladies that the Egyptians were visited upon will not befall you.” (Exodus 15:26)
It should give us pause to realize that the DELTA variant broke out in June of this year.
Healing Through Kindness & Teshuvah
Let us now return to the Hebrew letters and see how they are also moral indicators for humanity to emulate.
There was an instructor of young children who taught them the letters of the Aleph Bet. He said to the sages in the study hall. Permit me to share with you the meaning of the Hebrew letters. He exclaimed:
Aleph – Bet, this is an acrostic for “Aleph- Bina” that translates as – I will teach you discernment
Gimmel – Dalet this is an acrostic for “Ge’mol –Dalim” that translates as – pursue gemilat chassadim acts of loving kindness with the dalim – the poor and impoverished.
This teacher continued: Why does the letter Gimmel have two protrusions – (two legs) so that it runs after the Dalet – for so it is with people who are kind, they pursue and run after the poor (dalim) to do with them an act of loving kindness. He continued: And why is the letter Dalet – (the shape of the Dalet) its back, ever slightly inclined towards the letter Gimmel, it is so, that that the one doing the act of kindness will not have to trouble himself to find the poor person. And why is it, that the letter Dalet its back is facing away from the letter Gimmel? to teach that the wealthy person is to perform the act of kindness in a manner that is circumspect, without the recipient placed to embarrassment. (Talmud Shabbat 104.)
Yes – Tzedakah and Kindness is the Solution
By placing Judges and enforcement officers over ourselves – following the Torah and staying away from Egypt’s abominations we are protected and are assured success in all that we do. By increasing in all acts of loving kindness we will bring about much more than “herd-immunity” but a world of healing.
The word ELUL is comprised of four letters being an acrostic for Ani Ledodi Vdodi Li – I am to My Beloved and My Beloved is to me
The transcendent name of G-d is also of four letters.
The fourth letter of the Hebrew Alphabet is DALET as mentioned, the source for the word DELTA.
The key to transform the Delta variant is through the increase of Torah observance & charitable deeds, namely:
1)Torah study 2) Prayer 3) Acts of loving kindness and 4) Teshuvah – a return to Hashem and His Torah
Doing so, all of Israel is inscribed in the Book of Life for health & wealth both spiritual and material. The great promise of MOSHIACH who will judge and discern, right from wrong, not through appearances alone, but through the powerful and discerning sense of smell. (Isaiah 11:3)
The DELTA and Covid 19 malady that enters through the nasal passage to infect the lungs will be stopped in its tracks. Totally obliterated!
The era of MOSHIACH, will herald the end of all exile, quarantine, and isolation. World peace and the restoration of our holy Beit Hamikdosh, in the holy city of Jerusalem will be the redemption complete.
The Rabbinical Alliance of America /Igud Harabonim (RAA/Igud), continues to aggressively move ahead on many fronts, with many new projects, thus appreciably increasing the effectiveness of each individual member rabbi to most productively serve Klal Yisrael. With our current membership of over 950 prominent Rabbonim, kein yirbu, the RAA/Igud represents a powerful force serving Klal Yisroel. We need the active participation of every member rabbi. Please be in touch with us and advise us how we can better serve you.
A strong rabbinical organization must be well funded in order to act on behalf of its members and on behalf of Rabbonim in all matters. Therefore, we must again ask each member that has not yet submitted his dues to please do so immediately. The minimal contribution effort of the individual rabbi is the membership dues of $125.00 which includes an enhanced picture membership card. Our Menahel, Rabbi Dovid Katz, will be handling the processing of the picture membership cards. Rabbi Katz can be reached at (212) 810-6777, rabbikatz@rabbinicalalliance,org, We need your financial support. Help us so that we can serve YOU and Klal Yisroel.
Please make checks payable to the Rabbinical Alliance of America, and mail to Rabbinical Alliance of America, P.O. Box 190234, Brooklyn, New York 11218. If you want to pay by credit card and submit your id picture you do this by going to our website https://rabbinicalalliance.org/dues/.
Enclosed, in preparation of the Rabbinical Alliance website update that is being readied, please find the Rabbinic Directory Update Form which you can also fill out by going online (https://rabbinicalalliance.org/dues) . Please provide the requested information and return it together with your membership fee.
On behalf of the Igud/RAA Presidium and of the Beth Din, I extend greetings of Torah.
Rabbi Mendy Mirocznik
Executive Vice-President, Rabbinical Alliance of America