Rabbi Paysach Krohn, well-known mohel, speaker, and author, has crafted a masterpiece on chesed, filled with uplifting, inspiring stories and practical hands-on guidelines for performing chesed based on Torah sources. The Glittering World of Chessed, released in November, is a must-read for every family in klal Yisrael.
We mention Avraham Avinu a second time in the beginning of Sh’moneh Esrei when we recite the brachah of Magen Avraham because Avraham’s main midah was chesed. So, when we remind Hashem that we are connected to the Avos, we want to emphasize that midah of chesed because it is especially beloved by Hashem. The Gemara says that the Jewish people have three identifying characteristics: They are merciful, they are shy, and they perform kind deeds. These traits are the hallmark of a Jew. The Glittering World of Chessed is an apt title for a book filled with precious gems. The book is divided into sections named after jewels: Sapphires of Spirit, Sterling Personalities, Golden Directives, Perceptive Pearls, and Emerald Establishments. Reading this sefer conjures images of the clothing of the Kohen Gadol with his breastplate of gems – the Urim v’Tumim – that communicated Hashem’s directives. The message conveyed by this sefer is that chesed is a beautiful garment with which we should adorn ourselves to come closer to Hashem.
Stories abound of beautiful acts of chesed performed by Jewish people of every age and from places all around the world. It’s especially heartwarming to this writer, who is a resident of Queens, to read about all the chesed performed by people in Queens. A young boy decides to get off the school bus to help a classmate who was running to make the bus and fell. A Jewish man in Belgium buys a ticket to the airport to help a stranger navigate the airport in a strange land. A famous Jewish singer takes time to sing special songs of comfort to a bereaved couple. A man suggests a job idea for someone and then, to ensure that the man will make a parnasah, this man pays the salary for this person for months until the employer officially decides to hire him.
A grocery store in Israel loses power on Erev Shabbos, and the manager tells the customers to take whatever they need and to pay after Shabbos. A pre-school teacher pens personal notes to her students highlighting all their special strengths and talents, so when they are older they can read these letters and gain chizuk. A couple scans the listings of shiv’ah houses in the Hamodia, so they can pay a shiv’ah call to a mourner who is sitting shiv’ah alone. A rabbi accompanies to shul a young boy who doesn’t have a father, and he does this religiously for ten years. Rabbi Krohn recants so many beautiful acts of chesed that the reader just has to say, “Mi k’amcha Yisrael?”
In this sefer, Rabbi Krohn shares a teaching from T’hilim. “The world is built on chesed.” Rav Chaim Volozhiner taught, “Man was not created merely for himself but rather to help others.” Rabbi Krohn shares the fascinating fact that the Hebrew word for “we shall give,” v’nasnu, is a palindrome (It reads the same backwards and forwards). This teaches us that when we give to someone, we are really giving to ourselves. There are several poignant stories that prove this point. Three women who were struggling with infertility started an organization called ATime to help others dealing with this difficult challenge. The following year, all three women were blessed with the birth of a child. A woman who was meticulous about returning borrowed items, and not keeping anything that was not hers, was rewarded when she lost her luggage on the highway and it was all returned to her by Rabbi and Mrs. Krohn who saw it fall out of the woman’s car and collected the items. In another story, a woman was saying T’hilim 91 for a sick child, and one line speaks about Hashem protecting you from danger. Her reciting this perek of T’hilim seems to be the z’chus that saved her family from experiencing a terrible car accident.
The following are some of the glittering gems gleaned from Rabbi Krohn’s book:
“Doing chesed makes everyone into better people.” The Gemara in Shabbos teaches: “Just as He is gracious and compassionate, so should you be gracious and compassionate.”
“It is modus operandi for a baal chesed to keep praying for those in need, regardless what the need may be and regardless how hopeless one thinks the situation is.”
“Show chesed and dignity even to inanimate objects, especially if they have benefited you.”
The Belzer Rebbe taught that if we reveal to our children the good deeds we do, those noble deeds will continue in our family forever.
Rav Pam taught that chesed is offering others what they want, not what you want.
Doing chesed, like giving tz’dakah before davening, is conducive to having our t’filos answered.
You can always say something that will make someone feel special. Giving compliments makes you happier and more positive, because you are always looking for the good in others.
Chesed involves anticipating the needs of others. When you do chesed for others, not only do you enhance their lives, but, even more so, you enhance your own life.
In his book, Rabbi Yonoson Rosenblum wrote about Reb Shraga Feivel, who taught that Toras chesed means that one should teach others what he learned. The Mishnah teaches that g’milas chasadim has no prescribed measure, which means even small acts have merit.
The Chofetz Chaim advises that not one day should go by without a person doing a chesed. Chesed makes you feel good about yourself.
Listen and silent have the same letters. When one listens attentively, one can hear the music that engulfs the spoken words. King Shlomo asked Hashem to grant him a listening heart.
Sefer Mishlei teaches: “Through kindness and truth, sin will be forgiven.”
I had the honor to interview Rabbi Krohn about his new book. He shared that he struggled for over a year to find the right title, and finally his sister came up with the idea. The cover depicts a glittering globe with starbursts, representing stories of chesed done all over the world in extraordinary ways. His main goal for this book is that people will start to keep a daily chesed journal, where they write down one chesed they do each day, which means everyone will be performing at least one chesed daily. What a wonderful way to change the world.
Rabbi Krohn shared that this book is different from his beloved Maggid series in that in addition to stories, he includes guidelines for how to perform chesed, as well as beautiful ideas about chesed from many different Torah sources. He wants the reader to come away with the knowledge that anyone can perform chesed. You don’t have to be wealthy or have great status. The book is filled with people just like us who perform extraordinary acts of chesed. We can do this, too. Rabbi Krohn hopes in the future to write a second volume on chesed.
This book will add glitter and shine to your library and, most importantly, to your life.
Thank you, Rabbi Krohn, for another amazing book!
By Susie Garber