On Sunday evening, January 26, Rabbi Paysach Krohn, well-known mohel, author, and speaker, shared an inspiring shiur at the Five Towns Premier Nursing and Rehabilitation Center on the subject of stopping hatred. The shiur was hosted by Chazaq. Rabbi Krohn offered practical suggestions along with powerful stories.
He began by recalling how, when he first spoke in Antwerp many years ago, he noticed cement barriers and police officers outside the shul. He’d never seen anything like that. In Brazil, you walk through the shul door and another door locks behind you as they check to make sure you are not a terrorist. He noticed that schools in England had guards and gates. In South Africa, every house and shul is behind barbed wire.
“When I first saw these things, I thought: Baruch Hashem that we don’t need these in my country.” Rabbi Krohn lamented, “Who would have ever thought that we would have to have police officers at our shuls?”
Rabbi Krohn shared how his mother taught him to have great pride in America. Now, all of a sudden, we experienced the Poway shooting, the Pittsburgh shooting, Jersey City, and Monsey. “What is going on? How does an ehrliche Yid respond to all of this?”
Rabbi Krohn shared a teaching of the Chasam Sofer, who paskened that in galus we are not supposed to light Chanukah candles outside. Rabbi Krohn explained, “Don’t hurt the eyes of the goyim. We have to realize that we are visitors in this country and we share it with others.” He went on to teach that we will never cause hatred to stop, as it is inborn in the secular world; however, every one of us can curb hatred. The first way we can do this is to always think of making a kiddush Sheim Shamayim. This is in front of Jews and in front of non-Jews. The main kiddush Hashem is among Yidden; but in today’s age, it is important to be m’kadeish Sheim Shamayim in front of non-Jews, as well. He shared how, recently at a Shabbaton, a man was checking out of the hotel and his son accidentally spilled a bag of Bamba on the hotel floor. The man went down on his hands and knees to clean it up, even though the hotel receptionist told him that housecleaning would take care of it. The man responded, “We spilled it. We have to clean it up.” This non-Jewish woman stood in awe, watching this rabbi clean up the mess.
We need to be sensitive to others, especially non-Jews on the street. Rabbi Krohn shared how, when he is on a plane, kosher meals are often served first. He never opens his meal until his neighbors are served their meal. This is one way to curb hate. When we are driving, it is so important not to cut people off or beep loudly at people. We have to ask ourselves: Am I making a kiddush Sheim Shamayim with this action? The way I walk, talk, dress, and interact with goyim is important.
Rabbi Krohn shared a now very famous story that happened to him. He was waiting at a gate to fly to Toronto when two TSA guards approached the gate. Everyone was wondering if there was a terrorist or something when the two guards walked right over to him. They held out a cell phone and asked him if it was his? His first response was no, as he reached into his pockets searching for his phone. It turned out that it was his, and he had mistakenly left his phone at the security station. He thanked them profusely, as the phone had some 700 numbers on it and it would have been very time-consuming to have to find all those numbers again. As they were leaving, he asked them: “There are thousands of people in this airport. How did you know the phone was mine?”
They responded, “As you passed by, you looked at us and thanked us for being here. You said I feel safer when you’re here. No one says ‘Thank you.’” So, they knew it was his phone, and they were determined to return it to him. Rabbi Krohn added that a couple of months later, someone was in Kennedy Airport and he thanked the security guard there. The guard said, “You heard the rabbi tell the story.”
This was such a beautiful example of kiddush Hashem and how it engendered caring from non-Jews.
Rabbi Krohn shared the famous pasuk that the kol (voice) is Yaakov’s but the hands are those of Eisav. When we don’t have the kol of Yaakov in the beis midrash, then the yadayim of Eisav are what are strong.
He then shared a teaching of the Ramban that in order to call out to Hashem out loud, t’filah has to be out loud. “Everyone tonight should be m’kabeil to say one prayer out loud. He suggested Ashrei or Aleinu as examples. “It’s better to daven less and understand more.” He recommended two great s’farim on prayer: Rav Schwab on Prayer and Shemoneh Esrei by Rabbi Avrohom Chaim Feuer. Rabbi Krohn shared that there is a pasuk that fits your name that you add to the end of Sh’moneh Esrei, and your name is a prophecy. It defines who you are.
We need to learn the meaning of the words of t’filah. This could combat the hatred of Eisav. Rabbi Krohn shared that we are not going to get rid of anti-Semitism by having guns in shul. That won’t curb hatred.
The way to curb hatred is to show respect to goyim. Treat them as human beings. Say “Thank you.” Drive like a mentch. Dress like a mentch. “Our Father gave us a wake-up call. We’re scared because these things can be contagious, chas v’shalom.”
Another suggestion Rabbi Krohn stressed is: Don’t decorate your house on the outside. Make it beautiful on the inside. You don’t want to stir up jealousy. Ayin ha’ra exists. Don’t make non-Jews jealous. If something good happens, there is only one person who won’t be jealous – your mother. Share it with her and thank Hashem, but don’t tell others. Don’t make a party celebrating a new beautiful house. This will make others jealous. He cited the source in the Chumash when Yaakov told his sons not to make themselves obvious when they went down to Egypt. He didn’t want to stir jealousy.
He concluded that Torah and mitzvos are what always will keep the Jewish people in existence.
This valuable shiur can be viewed on www.TorahAnytime.com.
By Susie Garber