| Shul with a View |

The Bris and the Rabbi

"All is in Hashem’s Hands, and no one suffers in This World more than he has to”



Everyone needs a friend. Often, our family and our chevreh fill the void. What happens when you cannot go to either?

Imagine you are a rabbi and you have a minor run-in with a congregant. You don’t want to share this with your family as why ruin your wife’s relationship with his wife?

You certainly cannot go to another congregant; how can you speak behind the back of one congregant to another?

Your only outlet is to speak to an older and wiser rabbi. He is the correct address because he understands what you’re going through.

A while back, a young rabbi from an out-of-town community was caught in a delicate situation. He has a small shul with one daily Shacharis minyan and everyone in the shul knows each other. As the shul is not located in Brooklyn or Lakewood or any other large Jewish neighborhood, his congregants are securely anchored to him. Most of the men come daily to daven.

The young rabbi was involved in what he considered to be a minor tiff with one of his balabatim. The cause of the squabble is not important. Suffice it to say, the balabos was indignant, if not outright livid, at the rabbi for the position he took. The man continued to daven in the shul, and although he did his best to avoid speaking to or even greeting the rabbi, no one but the two of them knew there was a strain on their relationship.

One day, however, this congregant was blessed with his first grandson. It was his daughter’s first boy after seven girls!

The congregant was bursting with joy. His daughter and son-in-law came to stay with him and he was planning a gala bris. As he was well off, he hired a high-end caterer and made sure that everyone in the shul was invited.

But his resentment of the rabbi had not ebbed.

It was the night before the bris when the young rabbi called his mentor for help.

“What should I do?” he asked his rav. “Tomorrow Ploni is making a bris for his grandson and the entire shul will be there.”

“What’s the problem?” the older rav asked.

“I’m sure the fellow is going to snub me by very openly and very publicly excluding me from receiving any kibbud at the bris. There has never been a bris where I haven’t gotten some sort of kibbud. It’s not the kavod I care about! It’s that I feel that if this dispute becomes public, it will damage the synergy of the entire shul. Perhaps I should absent myself from davening tomorrow?”

The seasoned rav did not think that was the answer. So his younger protégé asked, “What would the Rav do in my shoes?”

“I would go to shul,” the rav said, “and try to remember that all is in Hashem’s Hands, and no one suffers in This World more than he has to.”

The next evening the young rabbi called his rav, excited to tell him the good news.

“You won’t believe it!” the young rabbi said. “The balabos brought in a well-known mohel from New York. The mohel was going over the kibbudim with the balabos, neither of them realizing I could hear the entire conversation. The mohel asked, ‘Wait, what kibbud are you giving to your rabbi?’

“ ‘The rabbi is not getting any kibbud!’ the balabos said confidently.

“The mohel looked at him. Then he sternly rebuked him. ‘If you don’t give the rabbi a kibbud, I’m walking out right now and you can do the bris yourself!’

“The bitter congregant realized he was bested, and reluctantly told the mohel that I would name the baby.”

By the way, I can vouch for the truth of this incident.

The mohel was Rabbi Paysach Krohn.

And the young rabbi was me.

 (Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 799)

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