On Sunday evening, February 9, Rabbi Paysach Krohn, well-known mohel, author, and speaker, spoke in Torah Ohr Simcha Hall in Great Neck on how to get our t’filos answered. This life-changing shiur was hosted by Chazaq and can be viewed on www.TorahAnytime.com.
Rabbi Krohn shared that nothing is as important as t’filah, which is our connection to Hashem. It’s also our connection to each other. Look at the Sh’moneh Esrei and you see that everything is written in the plural. “Heal us.” “Forgive us.” Listen to us.”
He emphasized, “We have to know that as Jews we pray as a unit. We’re all brothers and sisters praying that everyone will have everything that’s good.”
One time, Rabbi Krohn shared that he had just finished a bris in Merrick, Long Island, and he noticed a woman in the kitchen crying. He went over and asked her what was wrong. She confided that this was the third time she was in this house of her best friend for a bris. “Why does she have so many children and I don’t have any?”
Rabbi Krohn sympathized with her and then he offered her a powerful teaching from the Gemara. The Gemara teaches that if you have a problem and you find someone with the same problem, you should daven for that person first and you will be answered first. Hashem will see how you care about fellow Jews and put them before yourself. He suggested that she call her doctor and ask him for the name of someone with the same problem. She did this and then began davening for that person to have a child.
A year later, Rabbi Krohn received a phone call from a lady who said, “Do you remember me? I’m the woman from Merrick. I’m in North Shore Hospital with my new baby boy.”
Rabbi Krohn shared how he said to her, “You made my day.” She responded, “You made my life.”
Rabbi Krohn pointed out, that all of us have problems. That is what galus is.” Find someone with the same problem you are dealing with and daven for him or her first.
He continued: The Maharal taught that you have to be thinking about what you are davening. One of the things we must do is to obtain a siddur with translations so we know what we are saying. The Shulchan Aruch teaches that it is better to daven less and understand more, than to daven more and understand less. “When we daven to Hashem, we need to think about what we are saying. This way we can make a connection.”
Rabbi Krohn pointed out that Miriam and the women all had instruments that they brought when they crossed the Yam Suf. Where did these instruments come from? The Sh’lah HaKadosh taught that the women had so much emunah that they knew that Hashem would take them out of Egypt so they were ready. Rabbi Krohn noted that you can add words to the Sh’moneh Esrei when you are davening. “We all have things we want to talk to Hashem about.” Rabbi Yehudah HeChasid (1150-1217) taught that you should add in every blessing and that will add to your kavanah.
The Satmar Rebbe taught something he learned when someone was imitating how he davened on Purim. We must be careful that we don’t daven in an automatic way, just imitating ourselves. We have to be fully there. It’s wrong to be going through the motions and not thinking about what one is doing. We have to spend time translating the words and understanding the meaning of the words.
Rabbi Krohn recommended the book on the Sh’moneh Esrei by Rabbi Avrohom Chaim Feuer.
Rabbi Krohn shared some lines that he underlined in his siddur. He suggested that we underline or highlight meaningful lines in our siddur. He highlighted, “Hashem brings healing to the brokenhearted,” as a reminder to imitate Hashem and try to help people who are having difficulties or are sad.
Rabbi Krohn imparted, “Your siddur becomes your best friend when you highlight and underline in it.” He added, “Everything you need in life is in your siddur.”
Rabbi Krohn then shared a powerful story that happened to the Skulener Rebbe, Rabbi Yisroel Avrohom Portugal, when he was living in Rumania during World War II. He and his Rebbetzin hid 400 young people, but someone informed on him to the government and the Rebbe was thrown into prison into solitary confinement. The Skulener Rebbe always davened Sh’moneh Esrei for an hour. He started praying in jail and was saying Baruch SheAmar. He thought how everything in this prayer is positive. He was thinking about the words and then he came to the line that said, “Hashem makes a decree and He fulfills that decree.” A decree means something negative. The Rebbe questioned why there was this negative thing in a positive prayer. He said, “Hashem, how can this be part of this prayer?” He thought about this some more and then he thought of something that made him realize that he would be released shortly from jail. The Hebrew word m’kayeim means fulfilled, but it also means He gives us strength to exist. When Hashem gives us a difficult decree, He gives us the strength to get through it.
Rabbi Krohn shared that he underlined this line in Baruch SheAmar in his siddur. It’s helpful to remember when we are going through a difficult time.
He also shared a story that happened to him on September 11, 2001. He was getting ready to leave from a bris in Hillcrest when his wife called and told him all the airports were closed. At this point, they weren’t sure if a plane had accidently hit the World Trade Center or if it was a terrorist attack. Rabbi Krohn shared how that day changed the world forever. A few hours later, he received a phone call from Rebbetzin Rochel Reifer a”h, the former principal of Shevach High School. She asked Rabbi Krohn to come speak to the students to help calm their fears. Rabbi Krohn told her that he would need to speak to some rabbis and look through some s’farim and get back to her. He finally agreed to speak to the students.
He shared how, when she introduced him to speak, she shared something so meaningful that he never forgot it. She pointed out the third paragraph of Aleinu, which many people don’t recite. In that paragraph, it states, “Don’t be afraid of sudden terror or the destruction of the wicked when it comes. Plan a conspiracy and it will be annulled; speak your piece and it shall not stand, for G-d is with us. Even when you age, I remain unchanged; and even till your ripe old age, I shall endure. I created you and I shall bear you; I shall endure and rescue.”
Rebbetzin Reifer spoke to the Shevach students. “Girls, never be so frightened because G-d is with us.”
Rabbi Krohn confided that before that day he never said that paragraph. From that day on, he made up his mind not to skip that paragraph.
Sadly, Rebbetzin Reifer was killed in a car accident a few years later, and Rabbi Krohn spoke at her shloshim and he shared this story from 9/11.
Rabbi Krohn shared several other moving stories, after which everyone left uplifted and inspired by this beautiful shiur.
By Susie Garber