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
• IMPORTANT: Retirement Plan Phone Number
• Chaplaincy Commission Update
• Rav Shlomo Amar: Tefillin at Mincha on Fast Day
• Rav Yitzchak Yosef: New Sefer on Corona and Halacha
• Divrei Torah: Bo
• The Rabbinical Alliance of America Wishes Success to President Joseph Biden and Vice-President Kamala Harris
• Jewish Voice: Inauguration
• Jewish Vues: Civility
• 5TJT: Holocaust Comparisons
• NY Post: RAA Denied Gov’t Dollars
• Upcoming Yahrtzeits 10 Shevat-17 Shevat
• 5TJT: Call for Respect
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.
Our retirement plan servicer assigned two phone numbers to our plan, which has caused some confusion. Going forward, please use this number to reach PenServ to discussion the retirement plan: 803-409-1479
From the desk of Rabbi Leonard (Yehuda) Blank, MS.BCC
Director of Chaplaincy Commission and External Affairs
Rabbinical Alliance of America/ Igud HaRabbonim
January 21, 2021
I dedicate this article to Keila Lutza bas Shalom HaKohein A”H
who was always mekadeish H and showed care to all like a Sara Imeinu.
The Star Spangle Banner, G Bless America, these, and other patriotic songs many of us remember and maybe even sang. Patriotism is something many of us grew up with. Many attended public school, Talmud Torahs and Yeshivos. The Pledge of Allegiance another staple in schools. In many synagogues on either side of the Aron Kodesh would be the American and Israeli flags, still found in shuls across the Untied States. I remember what a privilege it was on election days. I felt special as a young child going with my parents to vote, standing next to my father or mother in the voting booth after the curtain was closed and continued that feeling when I reached the age to also vote. Interesting to note, Rabbi Yeruchim Silber Director of New York Government Affairs for Agudath Israel has implemented an outreach program for high school students to register to vote when they come of age. Also, to learn about the importance of participating in our free elections. For the older generations and the “baby boomers” growing up in America meant strong ties to either the Democratic or Republican parties. Has patriotism, – being a proud American any different today then years ago? Do we still have gratitude and appreciation being in American or American citizens? Do we still feel free and able to practice our religion freely? Able to go places wearing our religious garments without being singled out for who we are? Many distinguished Rabbanim have spoken out how thankful we should be to live in one of the greatest countries in the world where Jewish communities, yeshivos, day schools, community centers and synagogues have been able to flourish. Where we are able to keep Shabbos, wear our religious and Jewish cultural garments openly and so on. We are presently living in precarious times, where some Jewish communities and other communities as well, are challenged by others here in the USA and throughout the world. Yet, we still must have hakaros hatov and not think we are overwhelmed by negativity. In the many diverse positions, I have held through the years, not only have I not had any obstacles facilitating, creating, and participating with other professionals the diverse programs I have been involved in, but have been accepted, welcomed, and encouraged by others from diverse ethnicities, religions, cultures, and backgrounds. I was proud of my accomplishments while wearing my yarmulka, observing and keeping my religion, way of life, and not feel stymied, left out of life’s many opportunities or meaningful events. In so many areas of professional opportunities, many of our orthodox men and women have attained and reached positions that might have been unthinkable, unattainable years ago with the same ease and recognition as today. We have reached high heights in education, science, medicine, mental health, chaplaincy, law, criminal justice, law enforcement, public service, arts, music and so much more. President Joseph Biden has tapped Anne (Chava) Neuberger an Orthodox Jewish woman to serve in the newly created cybersecurity position as the senior on the U.S National Security Council. (NSA), Politico reported. She joined the NSA more than a decade ago and has been serving as the agency’s director of cybersecurity since 2019. She will be named deputy national security adviser for cybersecurity in the incoming NSC. Neuberger, who lives in Baltimore, is from the heavily Jewish Brooklyn neighborhood of Borough Park, N.Y., where she went to a Bais Yaakov Jewish day school for girls. Neuberger graduated from Touro College in New York and Columbia University business school. She was also in the White House Fellows program.” Of the different Cabinet positions nominated by President Biden, ten are Jewish.
Despite what has transpired in recent weeks, we should continue to appreciate democracy and freedom in America. We remain strong and steadfast as ambassadors of the Ribono Shel Olom and Klal Yisrael doing our utmost to be mekadeish H. We pray that President Biden, Vice President Harris, and their administration will bring goodness and kindness to our Country and be sensitive to the concerns of the Jewish people, Israel, and all Americans.
We pray for the end of the pandemic that is ravaging across America and throughout the world. It is unbelievable how once the age requirement was lowered to 65 from 75 years of age plus new requirements enabling many others who could now receive the vaccine, the lines and waiting time grew longer, and the shortages became more acute. At the present time appointments are not being given or postponed. Especially with the new strains of virus more people want the vaccine. There are now treatments that are reducing the effects of the virus and many who had to be hospitalized are now being discharged earlier from the hospital. However, there are still thousands dying everyday just in the USA let alone in other countries too. Just last week, a young wife, siblings and parents were observing the shiva of their husband, son, and brother The nifter who was married less than a year, contracted the virus, had to be hospitalized, put on a life support, and in three weeks was nifter. Much praise must be given to Rabbi Aaron Glatt MD, Director of Medical Halacha for the Rabbinical Alliance of America who has been giving a weekly Motzei Shabbos zoom presentation with informative medical and scientific information about COVID 19, treatments and important information about the vaccine. He also begins with a meaningful Devar Torah. He has been a valuable resource and recognized throughout the medical, Torah communities and rabbinic organizations.
In Rav Pam on Chumash by Rabbi Sholom Smith Artscroll Series Mesorah Publications Ltd, Parshas Va’eira (pages 78-79) mentions “A human being is called an Olam Kawtan, a miniature world, and his body also is governed by this precise equilibrium (see Midrash Tanchuma, Pekudei 3). A slight chemical imbalance in one’s body can make a person deathly ill. Whereas his normal body temperature is 98.6 Fahrenheit, a meager increase of two to three degrees will make him quite ill. An increase of seven to eight degrees can send him into convulsions and brain seizures that can quickly lead to death. This is the importance of Shakai to a human being” “We must realize that we cannot fathom the workings of H, whether on a national or personal level. Nevertheless, our emunah should be firm enough that everything which happens to Klal Yisrael is for our ultimate good even if we cannot see how this can be. Many things occur in our lives which we fail to understand. We occasionally want to echo the cry of Yaakov “Why did you treat me badly?” “But we must remember that H is Keil Shakkai and does everything with a precise equilibrium for the ultimate benefit if every Jew. This realization will help weather the occasional stormy times in life’. Rav Pam in “Shabbos with Pam” Artscroll series Mesorah Publications Ltd Parshas Va. Eira (92-97) ‘in his explanation regarding Aharon initiating the first three makkos (blood, frogs and the lice) the water protected Moshe when as an infant he was cast into it, and the dust which concealed the man he killed who was beating the Jew. This teaching serves as a remarkable example of the concept of hakaras hatov, a sense of gratitude which plays such a central role in the life of a Jew and is the underlying theme of numerous mitzvos. While most people realize that gratitude is required when one receives a great favor or kindness from another person, how many people are thankful for small, insignificant ones? When the benefactor is a human being it is logical to express one’s gratitude, but must one feel gratitude to an inanimate creation like the river of soil? The answer must be that hakaras hatov means that the recipient must recognize the good he has received. It makes no difference if the benefactor will be cognizant of the recipient’s thanks or not. The recipient must be makir tov just the same because he received “good”. Moshe in his dialogue with H regarding his appointment as the redeemer of his people, which went on for seven days, finally agreed to accepting this responsibility, but Moshe also wanted to obtain permission from his father in law Yisro ( also known as Yesser).So Moshe went and returned to Yesser his father-in-law, and said to him, “Let me now go back to my brethren who are in Egypt, and see if they are still alive”. And Yesser said to Moshe, “Go in peace” (4:18). Rashi explains that Moshe needed Yisro’s consent to leave because he had sworn to him that he would not leave him without permission (see Nedarim 65a). The Midrash (Shemos Rabbah 4:2) gives a slightly different explanation: Moshe told H, “Yisro accepted me, opened his home to me (by giving me his daughter as a wife), and I am to him like a son. Therefore, I cannot leave without his permission.” Moshe’s hakaras hatov to his father-in-law knew no limits. He would even give up the opportunity to become the redeemer of his people should Yisro deny his request to return to Egypt. This time H was not angry at Moshe for refusing Him but agreed that obtaining Yisro’s permission was proper conduct” Rav Pam mentions “Hakaras hatov is the cornerstone of proper midos (character traits). It brings a person success in this world and in the next. When a person is makir tov to his fellow human beings, this will certainly lead him to thank H for the countless benefits He bestows upon him every day of his life, which in turn will bring him to love H and serve Him with all his heart and soul. There are another mitzvos where no verbal thanks can be given such as ulevawyas hameis, escorting the dead also meis mitzva and giving charity to a person(s) without him/her knowing about it. There is great satisfaction in helping others and not doing it for any recognition, but if the act of kindness was done openly and was the cause of a Kiddush H, then receiving a thank you was well worth it.
Patriotism, is it about hot dogs, apple pie, and other foods eaten on July 4th? Of course not. Though many indulge in those “delicacies”. When I was a NYC Housing Police Chaplain, wearing my uniform especially at a ceremony or special event (I also wore the uniform when on duty) it was profoundly moving when all those in uniform saluted and civilians held their hand over their heart when the National Anthem was played and the American, NYC and police department flags were flown. Yes, I did feel patriotic. Right after 9/11 almost every vehicle being driven had the American flag attached to the radio antenna or displayed somewhere on the vehicle. Throughout the city, one could see the American flag displayed from building windows. Interesting to note that every sheivet of the Benei Yisrael had their own flag which was flown whenever they marched in procession in the midbar. Would we consider the Benei Yisrael being patriotic? In a sense, yes, being proud members of Klal Yisrael, with Ahavas Torah, Ahavas Yisrael, Chavairom Kawl Yisrael and Ahavas H.
May America continue to be a beacon of democracy.
Wishing our best and congratulations to our new President Joseph Biden and Dr. Jill Biden,
and to our new Vice President Kamala Harris and Mr. Douglas Emhoff.
Sincerely and respectfully Rabbi Y. Blank
Hagaon Rav Shlomo Amar shlit”a, Rishon LeTzion and Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem, gives a shiur specially for Igud HaRabbonim on the subject of wearing tefillin at Mincha of a fast day that falls on Erev Shabbos.
The Rabbinical Alliance of America — Igud HaRabbonim, representing over 950 American rabbis — wishes success to President Joseph Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris on assuming the mantle of leadership of the United States of America, serving as the world’s leaders of freedom, democracy and justice. Inauguration Day represents hope, opportunity, a new beginning.
As this new administration begins its work, the country faces many daunting challenges. We pray that Heaven guide the President and Vice President to lead this great country from the dark times of the pandemic to the sunlight of a healthy world full of optimism, faith, resilience and love. May the President and Vice President be bestowed from Heaven with the wisdom and fortitude to unite America from its current divisiveness and strife.
Leadership requires a sharp eye, perceptive ear, loving heart and keen acumen. The Rabbinical Alliance of America prays that the Lord bless America’s government and leadership with these much needed gifts. May the Lord pour out His blessings on this land and its President, Vice President, judges, officers and officials, as they work faithfully for the public good. May the Lord grant them the wisdom and strength to successfully fulfill their duties with dignity, so that peace, tranquility, happiness and freedom will never depart from our land.
We pray that the Lord bestows the spirit of peace and liberty on all the inhabitants of our land, and plant love, fellowship, peace and friendship between the different communities and faiths that dwell here. May it be Lord’s will that our country be a blessing for all who live on earth, and that fellowship and liberty shine forth to the world.
By: Fern Sidman In reaction to Wednesday’s historic inauguration of our nation’s 46th president, religious organizations weighed in by expressing their support for the 78-year-old Joseph R. Biden Jr. Biden took the oath of office at approximately 12 noon on an exceptionally crisp January day. He was surrounded by his wife. Dr. Jill Biden, his…