23 Jul SURVIVING THE DARK DAYS OF GALUS: AN EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH RABBI DOVID GOLDWASSER SHLITA
Rabbi Dovid Goldwasser is a prominent Torah personality, syndicated columnist, daily radio commentator, and acclaimed
speaker, known for his exceptional ability to captivate and inspire audiences worldwide. His lectures are accessed around
the globe by thousands of people through select media outlets.
Rabbi Goldwasser has traveled extensively, including numerous trips to Eastern Europe, connecting with individuals from
every background and greatly impacting their communities.
Rabbi Goldwasser serves on the faculty of Touro College.
A popular author of thirteen books, Rabbi Goldwasser is a recognized expert in the field of mental health. Topics include:
inspirational stories of faith and encouragement, Torah insights on various topics, addictions and eating disorders.
With a perceptive understanding of and sensitivity for each individual, Rav Goldwasser is frequently consulted on numerous
issues. He spends countless hours counseling students, couples and families who seek guidance and direction in life.
Rabbi Goldwasser has received the Agudath Israel of America Communal Service Award, Award for Outstanding Service to
the Jewish Community from the Board of Jewish Education, Distinguished Rabbinic Leadership Award from the Jerusalem
Reclamation Project, the Humanitarian Award from Beth Torah Organization of the Deaf, and the Special Achievement
Award from the HEED Prevention Program for Young Adults.
Rabbi Goldwasser serves on the advisory board of Big Brother/Big Sister, HEED Prevention Program for Young Adults, Shalom Task Force, and the Mentoring
Program of the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office. He is a member of the faculty of The University Without Walls, and serves on the rabbinical board of:
ChesedNet, Misaskim, Project SPARK, and MASK (Mothers and Fathers Aligned Saving Children).
Recently Ari Hirsch from The Country Vues had the honor to sit down with Rabbi Goldwasser to discuss many different topics.
As we begin the Nine Days, how does
someone deal with all the sadness &
tragedies that exist in the world today?
We realize that much of what is happening
in the world is because we are living in
the ikvesa d’meshicha – the footsteps of
Moshiach. Hagaon R’ Elchanan Wasserman
published a sefer dealing just with the birth
pains of Moshiach. No doubt that is what
we are going through today. The only thing
that we can possibly do is to look for sources
of chizuk, inspiration and encouragement.
Rav Shach often said Lulei sorascha
sha’ashu’oy az avadti b’anyi– were the
Torah not my greatest joy I would have long
ago perished in my affliction.”
The greatest way to happiness is to know the
potential that we have inside. Maybe right
now I’m not feeling great. Maybe I didn’t
accomplish what I wanted; maybe I didn’t
see that something would happen, but now I
know I have the potential inside to change.
If Rabbi Akiva could change at forty, we can
Sara Schenirer, the head
of the girls Bais Yaakov
movement, was a seamstress
in Krakow originally. Girls
today are learning because of
her. Rabbi Yisroel Salanter
started the mussar movement,
Rabbi Yosef Rosenberger,
Zecher tzadik livracha, came
to America and saw that
shatnez had been forgotten and
renewed the mitzvah in this
world. There are many people
that had so much potential
in them, but started later in life. They
discovered that they had something inside
of them and that should give chizzuk to all
of us. We can do tremendous things. There
are so many incredible organizations now.
For example, Dirshu promotes learning
throughout the world. There are so many
chesed organizations: Hatzalah, Misaskim,
Misameach, and Chaverim to name only
a few. Misameach is building a center for
children and adults who would, up until
now, sit at home and stare at the walls. It’s
an unbelievable thing!
When I think of the potential that
we have, I get excited. I can say:
You know what? Even me, even
Goldwasser, can do something
now. There is tremendous
simcha knowing that Hashem
gave me the koach inside to do
more. I can do something for
the olam. Maybe there are a lot
of bad things that happen, but
there is good to come. Think
about Taanis Esther; those of
us that don’t like to fast too
much can always remember that
tomorrow will be Purim.
The fact that the Country Vues has been in
publication for 40 years and is mechazek
Klal Yisroel with beautifully written articles,
inspiration fun sections, and questions that
make people smile, it shows me that great
things can happen.
The beauty is that we all can accomplish
great things in life. Each one of us has
kochos ne’elamim – hidden powers.
The Klausenberger Rebbe lost his entire
family in the Holocaust. He was beaten,
tortured and starved. He survived the
concentration camps and established a
network of Bais Yaakovs and yeshivos,
even in the DP camps. In Eretz Yisroel he
fulfilled his dream in Kiryat Sanz, where
he established Laniado Hospital, a state-of-
the-art medical facility open to all. He also
established another Sanz community in the
United States in Union City and afterwards
divided his time between the two.
When I see the potential that everyone has, I
believe we all have to be B’Simcha!
How does a Rav manage to go from one
extreme to the next and actually feel it?
How does a busy Rav go from a levaya
to a vort to a bris back to something sad?
It’s a very difficult question. The great Rav
Yosef Eliyahu Henkin was in the Lower East
Side and the head of Ezras Torah. People
would come from all over with their tzaros.
He said it was a neis min hashamayim that
every day he didn’t have a heart attack.
The truth is, for me personally, it’s a lot of
siyata dishmaya to keep my head above the
water. When you go from a sad occasion to
a simcha you have to be able to switch and
change your mindset. The halacha warrants
this on Shabbos; even though I might be
very sad on Erev Shabbos, I have to dry
my tears by candle lighting, put on a smile,
and try to find the simcha in Shabbos. I can
go back to the sadness Motzai Shabbos,
but Hashem tells us, you have to control
your emotions, and I have to be, as they
say, moshel. If I can be the ruler over my
emotions, then I will have shalom, and then
I will have peace. I have to realize that I’m
here for the community, I’m not here for
myself. My personal feelings can’t get in
the way. If I have a lousy day and I’m upset
when somebody comes over to me on the
street, if I don’t give them a smile, then I’m
robbing them of what they deserve. Just
because I’m upset doesn’t mean everyone
else has to be.
They say that the Chazon Ish was collecting
money at the levaya of someone in his
family. People came over to him and asked
how he could collect money for others when
he was suffering so greatly. He answered
that just because he was suffering, it didn’t
mean that the poor had to suffer, as well.
The Rav has mentioned in many of his
lectures that the greatest chesed a person
can do is making a shidduch. What is the
secret to making a good shidduch?
The Chasam Sofer was once asked during
the Aseres Yemei Teshuvah what a person
could do to for a zechus during these
days so that he would merit a favorable
judgment. The Chasam Sofer answered
succinctly: Be osek in shidduchim. Make
A person should take it seriously. They
should keep a small notebook or a list
on their phone of people they meet, and
should try to keep their phone numbers.
We should seriously daven to Hashem to
be zoche to help Hashem in His work to
make shidduchim. Take an individual that
comes in and adopt them, adopt a shidduch,
adopt a young man, adopt a young woman
or an older man or woman and don’t stop
until you have done something concrete for
them. Whether you make a call for them or
just keep them in mind. Get information.
The sincerity in making a shidduch, is what
makes it work. When a person is serious
about it and puts their kavanah in, it will
help them succeed.. They will do it. A lot of
times you’ll see a person make a shidduch
who is not a shadchan at all. He is just
driven to make a shidduch and it works.
Everybody can do it! Everybody has to try!
Rav Schach once said that there should be
no shame in going over to a random person
and asking them about a shidduch. If you
have an idea in your head, act on it. Don’t
leave an act in your head. Act on it!
One time somebody walked into the Beis
Medrash and I suddenly had a crazy idea
that they might be a good shidduch for
somebody that I knew. I walked over to
the person, I really didn’t know them well,
and I said, “By the way are you going out?”
The person was there with his father and
he said yes. I said, “Can I be so bold as
to ask maybe what you’re looking for?”
It took how long? I was there with him
for 20-25 minutes. I said “I’ll tell you the
reason I came over; I have a crazy idea that
maybe there’s a young woman that might
be good for you.” They said, “Normally
if someone would come over like this we
wouldn’t do it, but when the Rav comes
over, we’re going to listen.” I gave them
the name, they researched it, and by the
end of the week, the couple went out and
eventually got married. I had to be bold, I
had to suggest it.
There are a lot of people in today’s world;
it’s like we’re fighting against the klippah.
There’s a klippah that is holding back some
people. I think we have to fight it and we
have to take extraordinary measures that
maybe in previous generations they didn’t
need to do. We have to realize that every
person has to tackle this. Every person has
to take achrayus, responsibility, for those
people that are in-need. If we say all the
time “Aniye Ircha,” you have to worry
about the poor of your city, how about the
people in shidduchim? How about all the
people that need to have a life partner, who
are looking for a life partner? Are they not
as deserving as the poor of the city? We
have to watch out for them, too.
The Rabbi has a lot of experience dealing
with children at risk. Today there are
more temptations with technology than
any other time in history. Assimilation is
at an all time high. How does a parent
raise their child the proper way? What
can they do to try to get their children on
the proper derech?
A couple of ways. Before the child is born,
daven for the child for everything to be
good. Daven that they should grow up in
the correct way and have good influences.
A person has to daven from the beginning.
Every woman has the chance to daven,
especially at the time of hadlakas neiros, at
candle lighting. Everyone has the chance to
daven, especially during birchas haTorah
when we talk about the children and the
children’s children and before Shema. We
have to give each child great love, warmth,
and hold them close. We have to make sure
that the chinuch for each child is tailor-
made. We need to take into consideration
the techunas hanefesh of each child, their
character, and their strengths. We need
to ensure that every child gets what they
need “al pi darcho.” How do we send them
into the best learning situation for them
and how do we give them encouragement
and inspiration so that they will love their
learning and they’ll see beauty in it? We
cannot force a child to do anything; we
shouldn’t pressure them, but rather help
them grow with ahavah, with great love.
The children should see that the parents
are on fire. The parents should be strong
in their Yiddishkeit, with no inconsistency;
parents shouldn’t say one
thing and do something else.
The children will see that the
parents have great love for
Torah and mitzvos and will
follow in that way.
The parent that is enthusiastic,
the parent that has hislahavus,
the parent that sings and
dances, the parent that knows
that the children need to see
the simcha and the ahava and
the joy in Yiddishkeit, those
are the parents who will be successful.
Their children will grow up inspired. And
even with all of that, it takes a lot of tefillah,
it takes a lot of prayer. That’s really what
a person has to keep in mind. Each child
may be a little different and you should
never compare children, never show one
child favoritism. “Oh look, your brother,
he’s unbelievable in learning” -or- “Your
sister, she’s so good and she’s so frum in
every area.” It doesn’t matter; they’re two
different nefashos, two different neshamos.
What’s good for one is not necessarily good
for the other, and they may have sensitivities
that are completely different.
The Rav mentioned that the most
popular sefer that he has written was
his most recent, “The Promise of The
Zera Shimshon.’’ Why do you think so
many people are interested in the Zereh
It’s the segulah, the promise of the Zera
Shimshon that anybody who learns it,
anybody who is involved in the Zera
Shimshon will see yeshuos, brachos, refuos
and so forth. I have to tell you the truth; a
lot of people are learning it for that reason,
at least initially. Afterwards, they discover
the beauty, the depth, the lamdus of the Zera
Shimshon and then they can’t get away from
it, from all corners, from all backgrounds,
from all segments of the community. I didn’t
know that much about the Zera
Shimshon. An individual asked
me to give a shiur for single men
and women, which I was happy to
do, but I told him that I’d have to
study up on it first and learn the
seforim. The first shiur that I gave
was amazing. People wanted to
be involved on all levels. They
had it in a hall and someone
wanted to sponsor dinner for
everybody, a smorgasbord, and
two things happened: The hall
filled up and they didn’t have enough space
and then they ran out of food. They had to
get some local restaurants to actually send
over food, and they gladly donated it. That’s
when I began to see the power of the Zera
Shimshon. After that, we started a daily
program, where people can listen for five
minutes a day. There’s a conference that
goes out every day at 4:00, and it has grown
beyond expectations, bli eiyin hara. A lot
of people have been in contact with me for
shidduchim, for parnassah, etc. People learn
it for a zechus, for a refuah shelaima, for
shalom bayis, etc. and there is something
very powerful about it, and I have seen that
it has helped. It’s the koach of Torah; it’s
not a mystical magic, but rather learning
and believing. It’s tzavaah and the will and
the promise that was left over by the Zera
Shimshon. So, I think that it just caught on
across the world.
There are so many different types of people
from all different backgrounds who show
up to the yahrzeit seuda. It’s such a nice
thing that has united people in Eretz Yisroel
and here. Some of the most sincere people
are involved in the Zera Shimshon and the
national organization. I believe that because
of the sincerity of all these people, it really
has affected a lot of people. It has grown so
much; it’s something
Over the years, I’ve
seen the Rav at many
whether it was with
Dov Hikind, with
Noach Dear, or the
different Mayors of
New York city etc.
What is the reason
that the Rav gets
involved with local
My mother was an
isha chachama. She
had great wisdom and said to me, “Listen.
I know that you get involved, but I give
you a little warning- don’t get involved
with everything.” Over the years, people
from different backgrounds and political
endeavors have reached out to me. I
don’t always get involved, but if I could
be of service to them because of their
involvement or affiliation, they may do
something for the Jewish community, for
the Torah community, or for Eretz Yisroel,
I have been willing to get involved in that
case when someone reaches out to me.
There are people in the political arena that
are openly anti-Semitic, openly anti-Israel,
openly anti-morals and ethics. I have joined
together with different leaders from various
communities to forge a bond and to create
peace. I think we have to support those who
will help, those who want to be a friend to
the Jewish people and a friend to Israel. I
think that we have to do whatever we can
and let them know that we support them. If
we don’t, they might think that we’re not
with them or maybe they’ll think that our
cause is not so important. There are a lot of
good friends that I’ve seen over the years,
a lot of people have done a tremendous
amount for our community and for Eretz
Yisroel. We have to be there to help, to
educate, to show, to have a presence. I think
that it’s just part of what we do.
Is there something that we did not discuss
that you would like to mention to the
Jewish Vues readership?
There are a lot of things I would like
to mention, but the biggest thing that I
could say is that in our generation people
need chizuk, they need encouragement.
Everybody’s trying, people are under a
lot of pressure and find that there are a
lot of challenges today, challenges in the
world, challenges in technology. A lot
of people are down. It’s our job to give
chizuk to each person, but most of all to
the children. The children today have a
lot of various pressures; pressure to learn,
pressure to read faster, pressure to do
this, pressure to do that. Teenagers have
pressure to get into high school, to get
accepted to a seminaryI think that we have
to be mechazek everyone, no matter what
they do. Whatever they can shteig in, we
should support them and encourage them.
We should not pay attention too much
to the grades; All of the students are “A
students” because they’re reaching their
potential, and doing whatever they can do.
Maybe there’s one student that was born a
genius, who’s an A student without even
trying so hard. But maybe there’s also a
student that doesn’t have that intellectual
capability, but they try and they study all
night, doing the best that they can. Maybe
the one that studied all night that got a C
deserves an A? The children need bigger
chizuk! Children need friends and when
they go to school, they shouldn’t have to
worry when they get on the bus that they
won’t have someone to sit next to. They
shouldn’t have to worry when they go to
school that they’re going to be judged by
this or that. We have to make sure that the
teachers don’t have favorites in the class.
Every student should be a favorite. Maybe
one child is not as smart as the other.
Maybe one child is a little boisterous
or doesn’t come from the best home,
but maybe they could still be a favorite.
Children need chizuk like adults do. They
have to feel that we are behind them and
not that they are a shvach student if they
need a little extra help.
I would like to wish all your readers
worldwide and all of Klal Yisrael a
meaninful fast and a wonderful summer!!