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    Few writers and speakers inspire like Rabbi Paysach Krohn. Author of nineteen books, including his famous “Maggid” series of short stories, Rabbi Krohn travels around the world inspiring audiences with tales that stimulate the heart and soul. Rabbi Krohn is also a fifth-generation mohel and, at 21, was the youngest person ever to be certified by the Brit Milah Board of New York.
    Last week, Ari Hirsch from The Jewish Vues had the zechus and opportunity to interview Rabbi Krohn to discuss being a mohel, a writer, a speaker, Pesach, minhagim, Senator Joe Lieberman z”l, & so much more.



    Born in: Williamsburg
    Yeshiva Went to Growing up: Yeshiva Torah Vodaas
    Wife: Rebbetzin Miriam Krohn, Kodesh Principal of Shevach High School in Kew Gardens Hills, Queens
    Favorite Rebbe: My 8th grade Rebbe in Torah Vodaas, Rabbi Yaakov Thumin. My father also hired a private rebbe for me, Reb Leibel Chait, z”l and he was one of the greatest people I ever met.
    Lives currently in: Kew Gardens
    First Bris Performed as Mohel: June 1966

    Year the first Maggid book came out: 1987
    Year the Haggadah “At the Maggid’s Seder” came out: 2020

    Going into Pesach, what is your favorite part of the seder?
    My favorite part of the seder is saying “Shehecheyanu” by kiddush, knowing that we’ve lived another year with family and friends and are able to share a seder together. This is something that we should never ever take for granted, to be here and alive and well. That’s all encompassing in the bracha of “Shehecheyanu.” It’s certainly one of the most moving parts of the seder and many times I can’t even say the bracha without crying, even now as I tell this to you.

    How should the current situation in Eretz Yisrael affect one’s Pesach this year?
    We keep saying that today we are B’nei Chorin, but we have to realize that it’s not in totality as we see with what’s going on in Eretz Yisrael. The world is turning against us and against Eretz Yisrael, against Yidden all around the world. America is a great country and we have a tremendous amount of freedom. We were even able to have 95,000 people at a Siyum HaShas, more than once. But, we have to realize that as great as America is, until Moshiach comes we really don’t have that cherus that we’re looking for. We are subservient to the various countries and the whims and desires of politicians even, unfortunately, Jewish politicians, who have turned against us.

    Do you have a favorite Pesach story that you would like to share with readers of The Jewish Vues?
    I actually have two of them. They are both in my “At the Maggid’s Seder” Artscroll haggadah that came out in 2000.


    When he was the Chief Rabbi of Israel, Rabbi Yisroel Meir Lau, once hosted a Seder for Israeli soldiers. As Rabbi Lau and the assemblage completed the recitation of the “Ha Lachma Anya- This is the bread of affliction…,” one of the soldiers raised his hand to ask a question. His tone indicated that he was not seeking a response to his query but rather that he was challenging Rabbi Lau in a confrontational manner.

    “How can I say these words, “Hashata hacha. L’shana haba’a b’ar’a d’yisrael. Hashata av’dei. L’shana haba’a b’nei chorin, ‘This year we are here, next year may we be in the Land of Israel. This year, we are slaves, next year may we be free men!’ I am in Israel! I am a free man. Why should I say these words that are obviously untrue? If the Haggadah is not relevant to me, right at the start, why should I continue to read it?”

    There was a strained silence as all eyes were on the dignified and composed Rabbi Lau. What would he say to the defiant soldier?

    He began softly, “Over the years I have had the very special opportunity to pray near some of the greatest rabbis on the holiest night of the year, Yom Kippur. I have prayed near Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Auerbach and Rabbi Leizer Shach. I saw and heard them cry, shedding copious tears as they recited the Ashamnu and Al Cheit prayers. And I saw them cry when they heard that our soldiers had been killed. These great men certainly never committed many of the sins listed in those prayers and probably never even dreamt of committing them. They were men of truth, so how could they confess to things they never did?

    “The answer is that they were not praying only for themselves; they were praying on behalf of the Jewish nation. They felt anguish for fellow Jews who violated Torah principles. It is the same with the Haggadah. You,” he said, looking directly at the soldier, “are among the fortunate ones; you were born and live in Israel, but there are millions of Jews who do not have that
    privilege. Tonight, we recite the Haggadah as one nation.

    “At Mount Sinai we received the Torah as one nation, we walked through the Sea of Reeds as one people, we entered the Promised Land as one people. Until all Jewish people are living in Israel, each individual, even in Israel, will recite the verse, “This year I am in the diaspora, next year may I be in the Land of Israel.’” In regard to being a slave, Rabbi Lau explained that although we may not be bound in chains working as slaves for a human master, how can we claim that we, as a nation, are free? In our present society, even in Israel, there are influences pulling at our hearts and minds, keeping us distracted from a life of service to G-d. We must take an honest look at ourselves and declare, “This year we are slaves to distractions, addictions, and temptations that keep us from living a life according to the Torah. We pray that by next year at this time, with the coming of Mashiach and the rebuilding of the Holy Temple, we will be truly free.” When Rabbi Lau finished, there was a hush around the room. The veracity of the Haggadah had been masterfully presented.


    In April 2010, Rabbi Yisroel Mantel, the Rav of Khal Adas Yeshurin in Washington Heights, New York, received a letter from Rabbi Levi Weis, a member of the kehillah. Rabbi Weis had enclosed a copy of a unique prayer that had been found among the papers of Mrs. Irma Haas, who died in Israel at the age of 101.

    Mrs. Haas was one of the few survivors of the Bergen-Belsen Concentration Camp. She came to the United States and settled in Washington Heights. Decades later, at 97, she and her sister Hilde, 94, made aliyah to Israel. They were the oldest survivor sisters ever to make aliyah. When Mrs. Haas passed away, her papers were given to her niece, Mrs. Judy Marcus of Teaneck, New Jersey. When Mrs. Marcus read the creased paper with this remarkable tefillah, she realized the significance of the words. She made copies and sent them to Rabbi Weis, a family friend who was close to Rabbi Mantel. He, in turn, sent the tefillah to Rabbi Mantel.

    The tefillah was composed by Rabbi Yissachar-Bernard Davids, who was the Chief Rabbi of Rotterdam, Holland, before World War II. After Germany conquered Holland, he was sent to Bergen-Belsen with his family. Here is his poignant prayer:

    Many people have told me that they read this tefillah at their Seder table to teach the assembled the mesirus nefesh of Jews in the concentration camps and the gratitude we must have to Hashem for the conditions we live in today.

    What does the Rav consider his specialties?
    Milah, writing, and speaking.

    How many years have you been a mohel?
    More than fifty five, Baruch Hashem.

    Why did you become a mohel?
    I started when I was twenty-one. My father unfortunately had a terminal illness. I took over in June before he passed away in October, Shemini Atzeres of 1966. I was supporting my mother and younger brother and sisters.

    How many brissem have you performed over the years?
    I do not count them, but there have been, Baruch Hashem, thousands.

    Who taught you how to be a mohel?
    I am a fifth generation mohel. I was very close to my father and he always wanted me to learn milah. He felt that if I would do so by accompanying him, then I would always have a choice as to whether I wanted to be a mohel or not. So in the summers I would come along with him and if there was a Shabbos bris I would walk with him, as well. Then unfortunately when he got sick in 1965-1966, I went with him everyday and by June 1966 I was doing brissem myself.

    Have your sons continued as mohels?
    Yes, my son Rabbi Eliezer Krohn is a mohel in Passaic and my son-in-law Rabbi Ephraim Perlstein is a mohel in Far Rockaway.

    How did you come up with the idea of writing the Maggid series?
    I always enjoyed writing, even in high school. My mother was a great writer and taught me how to write. I used to write stories for the children’s magazine “Olomeinu” put out by Torah U’mesorah and then I wrote articles for the Jewish Observer. I wanted to write Jewish stories, but there was no real outlet. Then in 1976 Artscroll came out with Megilas Esther and sold tens of thousands. I knew Rabbi Meir Zlotowitz from Camp Agudah, and I approached him to ask him if I could write one of the chamesh megilas. He told me they were going to write that themselves, but if I wanted to write something else, they would edit it. My original thought was that I would write Mishlei, but I realized that it was too overwhelming because every pasuk is a sefer in itself. But then when Artscroll started publishing books on various topics, I approached them and asked if I could write on the topic of Bris Milah. They asked me to present a
    chapter, which I did after working on it with my mother. They liked it very much and said they would be willing to publish a book on the topic. They wanted a book that was thorough and covered every topic one could think of related to bris milah. I worked on the book for two years and it came out in 1985.

    It’s been reprinted many, many times, Baruch Hashem. When parents call me to do a bris, I send them the book immediately via UPS. Once I wrote this book, I thought about other things I could write. I saw that Rabbi Chanoch Teller had written a book on stories and it occurred to me that I’m very close to Rav Shalom Schwadron and stories might not be a bad idea. Artscroll
    had never had a book of stories. They were printing their siddur, and their idea was to write books on Tanach in the future. Then I approached them about writing stories. I told Rav Schwadron that his stories are great, but they were only told in Yiddish. In America the young adults could not understand it. I asked if I could write them in English. He loved the idea. He gave me his notes and I had a cousin, Rav Chaim Dovid Ackerman, who translated what I wrote in English to Yiddish & Hebrew so that Rav Shalom could understand it. He loved how I retold his stories. The stories were one typeface because the stories stood on their own. The lessons, which were mine, are printed in a different typeface. After The Maggid Speaks was published I again wondered if there was more to write. I thought I had written the best stories of Rav Schwadron. But then Rav Nosson Sherman, the editor in chief at Artscroll, called me and he told me I need to write another book.

    He said he had just been in South Africa and the Rebbe there in the yeshiva was teaching the stories from my book. He told me that if thousands of miles away people are reading my books then I have the responsibility to write another one. So I went back to Rav Schwadron and I got a few more stories, but it wasn’t enough for a book. So I started asking a number of chachamim, askanim, and rabbanim for their stories. That’s how the second book was published, “Around the Maggid’s Table.” In other words, “the Maggid,” Rav Schwadron, was telling stories and others added their episodes, so to speak. That’s also how my speaking tours started. People thought if I could write a story, then perhaps I could tell a story. But I didn’t just
    tell a story- there was always a lesson to it. The more I spoke, the more people started telling me stories. That’s how the “Maggid” books have come to be written.

    What’s your favorite place to visit and why?
    I’ve been blessed to travel and love the places I’ve been. One of my most favorite places though is South Africa. There are so many ba’alei teshuva and they thirst for authentic Torah Judaism.

    I was told that the Rav was friendly with Senator Joe Lieberman, who was just niftar. Do you have any stories about the late Joe Lieberman that the Rav would like to share?
    I was very friendly with Joe Lieberman. I went a couple of weeks ago to be menachem avel the family in Riverdale during the week of shiva and davened shacharis there. After davening, they asked me to speak for a few minutes and this is what I said. Joe was beloved by many and made such a kiddush sheim shamayim. I said that I wondered why Hashem made it that he died when he did. It occurred to me that today there’s so much negative press against Eretz Yisrael and against Jews all over the world. Hashem made him die at this time because the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times had no choice but to talk about how wonderful this Jew was. How he would walk four miles on Shabbos to the Congress, even in the pouring rain. He had a cop that walked with him, who kept offering to drive him in the car. This shows the world that there are great Yidden and wonderful Yidden in the world, and even those who criticized Yidden had no choice but to talk about him in a positive way. That’s what I mentioned yesterday at the shiva.

    I’m friendly with the family. I did his grandson’s bris. I had a great, great story with them. When Joe was running for Vice President, I was called to do a bris in Bridgeport, Connecticut where he was going to be the sandek and I was told numerous times that I must come on time because his schedule is very tight because of the campaign. When I came, there were secret service people all over the place. At the bris, he was the sandek, the baby was on his lap. It was beautiful to see him in tallis and tefillin. After the bris, somebody said to me, “You see that guy behind the mechitza with the beard?” I said “Who? That chassidishe fellow?” he said “He’s not a chassid, he’s secret service. He had a gun on you the whole time that you were doing the bris.” I said, “What did you say?” he said, “He had a gun on you.” I said “Why?” and he said “You had a knife 3 inches from Lieberman’s heart. Nobody was taking any chances.” I said to them, “I’m so glad you told me this after the bris and not before the bris.” Two years later in YU I did the bris for Lieberman’s grandson. He has a son-in-law that was in the Kollel. There was a ten-minute delay. While we had this ten-minute break, Joe came over to me and said, “Why don’t you tell everybody the story about the knife and the sandek and the gun?”

    What’s your favorite part of your job?
    I’m really blessed that I love everything I do. When I’m doing a bris, that’s the thing I want to be doing the most. When I’m speaking, that’s where I want to be. And when I’m writing, there’s no place else I’d rather be. That’s one of the biggest brochos in the world that you can provide for your family and do things that you love to do. There are many people who are stuck in jobs that they don’t like so then they look for hobbies. I’m blessed that my hobbies are my profession.

    What are you currently working on?
    As I’m sitting here, I’m working on a book for ArtScroll on the 3 weeks, the 9 days, Tisha B’Av and Tu B’av, which is the day of shidduchim. The book is called “From Sorrow to Celebration.” The sorrow is the 3 weeks, but I didn’t want to write only about destruction and sadness, although there are many, many positive things that are brought up by thinking about the Beis HaMikdash. I wanted to include the day of Tu B’Av, which is a day that was always set aside for shidduchim.

    When is that coming out?
    Hopefully it will be out by Shavuos, in time for the 3 weeks.



    Does the Rav have someone in his family go around and put 10 pieces of bread around the house before doing Bedikas Chometz?
    Yes, sure, my wife. My wife and the kids used to do it. Now that the kids are married, my wife does it.

    Does the Rav rely on the heater mechira? Does the Rav get rid of all his chometz before Yom Tov or puts it in a cabinet & sells it?
    We try to get rid of ” “real” chametz; the Yiddishe expression is “Echta Chametz,” but there is food in the cabinets and we do sell it.

    Is the Rav a bechor? Does the Ravfast erev Pesach or make a siyum?
    Yes, I am a bechor. I usually attend a siyum Erev Pesach.

    Does the Rav sell the chometz from the shul to a goy or does the Rav sell his chometz to someone else who sells it to a goy?
    I’m not a Rav of a shul, so I sell it through my Rav.

    Where does the Rav get his Matzos for Pesach from?
    I used to get it from Shatzer Matzos, but unfortunately, they closed, so we have to get it from other places.

    At the Rav’s seder, who typically wears a kittel?
    Anybody that’s been married more than a year.

    What do you use for Karpas?
    A potato.

    At the Rav’s seder, how many people make kiddush?
    I make kiddush and each husband makes kiddush for his family.

    Separately or together?
    Everybody separately. My sons always made kiddush even before they were married, and any of the grandchildren who would like to make kiddush do so, as well. But usually, their fathers make it for them. Except, I have a son-in-law who is of German descent and his children all make their own.

    At the Rav’s seder how many people say Ma Nishtana?
    All the children. Each one says it separately, not together.

    Does the Rav deep his pinky in the wine when saying the Makos?

    At the Rav’s seder do you open the door for Eliyahu Hanavi when saying Shefoch Chamascha?
    Positively. And I say the words “Baruch Haba.” My father used to do that, so that’s a minhag that maybe other people don’t have, so then you could put that in as a minhag that I have. The reason that I do “Baruch Haba” because as a Mohel, when they bring the baby in and Eliyahu Hanavi comes in for the bris, we also say “Baruch Haba.” Of course by a bris there’s a kisei shell Eliyahu, so my father always said “Baruch Haba” when we opened the door for Eliyah Hanavi. Haba stands for “Hinei Ba Eliyahu.” Also, “Haba” is eight in gematria, which is for the baby who’s eight days old.

    Does the Rav eat an egg at the seder?
    Yes, with salt water.

    At the Rav’s seder does someone usually “steal” the afikomen?
    My father, and I would like to stress this, never ever allowed us to use the word “steal.” A Yid does not steal. Even the gemara doesn’t say the word “steal.” The gemara says “Chotfin.” A person grabs it. Growing up, we never took the afikomen. My father did not hold that children should take the afikomen and ask for gifts. When my own children wanted something, I gave it to them. I never ever let anybody steal it or grab it. I’m totally opposed to using the word “steal”; I give it to the kids. Every night I give it to another group of children, but not stealing or taking it in that way.

    What type of wine does the Rav use for the arba kosos?
    Red, sweet wine.

    Is there a specific wine?
    I always use Kedem. I like Rashi wine, but Kedem is what I usually use.

    Which Haggadah does the Rav use himself at his seder?
    Mine. I had my Haggadah the last couple of years, but I have a Haggadah which is The Gra together with the Malbim, which to me is the most fantastic Haggadah.

    How does the Rav’s seder typically end? Singing L’shana Haba’ah?
    We usually dance and sing “L’shana Haba’ah,” but after the seder I always say “Shir Hashirim.”

    Do you say the whole “Shir Hashirim?” or just the beginning?
    The whole thing. One of the most memorable sedarim I remember was when I said “Shir Hashirim‘’ together with Rav Sholom Schwadron when he was by us for the seder.


    What’s your favorite Yom Tov?
    There’s nothing like Sukkos in Eretz Yisrael with family.

    What’s your favorite line in the Haggadah?
    In “Vehi She’amda,” -“Shelo Echad Bilvad, Amad Aleinu Lechaloseinu.” Again, I can’t even say it without crying. “V’Hakadosh Baruch Hu Matzilenu Miyadam.” And I think that this year that is perhaps the most important line in the Haggadah because of the war that’s going on in Eretz Yisrael. So, when you asked me before about the relation in Eretz Yisrael, I think that that’s something by “Vehi She’amda” that families and fathers should stress that as difficult as it is -“V’Hakadosh Baruch Hu Matzilenu Miyadam.” It happens in every generation.

    Which Gadol’s seder would you have liked to attend?

    Favorite Mesechta.

    If the Rav could hear a shiur of anybody on Kesubos, who would you want to hear that shiur given by?
    There was a rebbe that I had, his name was Rabbi Leibel Chait. He was the greatest rebbe I ever had. Unfortunately, he’s not alive anymore, but if I could hear a shiur from any person, who’s not alive, it would be Rabbi Leibel Chait. My current rebbe is Rabbi Dovid Cohen, who I have been learning with for more than four decades B”H.

    Fill in the blank If you weren’t an author, mohel, lecturer, you would be____________
    A Rebbe in a yeshiva.

    Fill in the blank Galus will end when____________
    When all the Yidden love each other and they are B’Agudah Achas that’s what the Midrash Tanchuma tells us.

    Is there anything on your “bucket list” that you have not done that you would like to do?
    I would love to finish Shas b’iyun, Chumash, and Tanach.

    Who would you say is the most revered person in Tanach?

    Moshe Rabbeinu.

    Who are the three people that you admire most?
    There are three people who I see as treasures in our generation. My Rebbe, Rabbi Dovid Cohen of Brooklyn, New York. R’ Nosson Scherman, main editor of Artscroll. He edits all my books and that is why my books come out as they do. He does a great job. Rabbi Berel Wein. He has provided so much; Jewish Destiny Foundation, CDs, MP3s, newspapers. He is remarkable.

    If the Rav can have 3 people at his seder, anyone from the beginning of time, who would he invite?
    I’m not going to say 3 poor people. That’s what Rav Dovid Feinstein zt”l said. I would say Moshe Rabbeinu because he had firsthand information or firsthand experience, Rashi, and the Vilna Gaon.