B"H, I was priveliged to speak yesterday with the Sudilkover Rebbe, Reb Areye Wohl by phone. Of course, I have to thank A Simple Jew, who is very close to that tzadik and was kind enough to introduce me to him.
I called him early in the afternoon yesterday, the Secular New Year. First, he thanked me for translating his essay on the importance of Chassidishe stories that are meant to teach something.
He told me an interesting story regarding how he spent his "New Year's Eve." First, he told me the teaching from the Apter Rov about New Years. He said, partially based on that, that he makes it a point of going out at midnight on "New Year's Eve" and wishing gentiles "A Happy New Year!"
He said that the night before, he asked his gabai and driver to take him out to the only place in Monsey he knew of that he would be able to find any gentiles, the 7-11. There, he made it a point of wishing "A Happy New Year" to several of the non-Jews that he saw there. Once outside, he saw one particularly unhappy person walking by just after midnight. He wished him "A Happy New Year!" A few minutes later, the man came back to find him. He asked the Sudilkover if he was a rabbi. When the Rebbe answered in the affirmative, he asked if he could have his picture taken with the Rebbe. He answered him that he very much does not like having his picture taken. "Why," the Rebbe asked, "do you want to have your picture taken with me?" The man answered him that the Rebbe was the first person to wish him "A Happy New Year," all year, and it made him very happy, especially considering the fact that he knew that this was not the Jews' new year and that they had their own. So the Rebbe agreed to have his picture taken with the man.
He said that as long as we live among the goyim, our blessings somehow come through them and that this is connected to the Apter Rav's vort. He also said that it is good because if the non-Jew is a sonei Yisroel (an anti-semite), then the greeting will hopefully make him less of a sonei Yisroel. And if he is parve, and doesn't feel one way or the other about Jews, the greeting may make the person an ohev Yisroel (one who likes the Jewish people). And if the person is already an ohev Yisroel, then this will make him an even bigger ohev Yisroel and will give him another story to tell his friends, who may not like the Jewish people as much.
He also told me something about Gerim which I will, IY"H, share tomorrow.
(Video of interview with the Sudilkover Rebbe in Hebrew is from Chabad Online)
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