Is the recent rise in anti-Semitism something to worry about?
Absolutely! How could we not worry about it?
But we have to know that there is a fundamental reason why it’s happening – because Hashem is worried about us. We’re too involved in gentile ideas, and so there is a need to erect a wall. That wall is anti-Semitism. This happens again and again throughout history – when Jews start getting lost among gentiles, it’s time for the gentiles to begin building a wall to prevent that.
The first reaction to anti-Semitism should NOT be to contribute to the organizations that combat anti-Semitism. No, no! In most cases, those organizations cause anti-Semitism. The way to combat anti-Semitism is to build more yeshivot where children will be accepted for lower, more affordable tuition. The yeshivot should be so prosperous that they should be able to afford to accept children almost for nothing. That’s the ideal. The Jewish child, sitting in the yeshiva, will then be the one fighting against anti-Semitism in the most effective manner.
What is the best way to console a mourner when paying a shivah call?
The best thing you can do to provide comfort to a mourner is to come and show yourself. That’s the consolation. Just honoring him by coming – that’s already a consolation.
If the mourner is really broken, then you have to use words that are suited to the occasion. But you cannot give one prescription that suits everybody. If a person is of a philosophical bent, then you talk to him about Olam Haba [the next world] and about this world being only a temporary place; you can talk about how a man who deserves reward was taken by Gd to Gan Eden, and he is enjoying all the great promises that Gd promised to those who serve Him. Whatever it is, there are ways and means of consoling each person according to his level of intelligence.
Some people are obtuse; they’re not intelligent, so you can’t tell them anything. So, all you can say is, “How are you, cousin Jake?” That’s all you can say. Actually, you shouldn’t say, “How are you,” because this is a greeting which one may not extend to a mourner (see Yoreh Dei’ah 385:1). But you can speak to him about ordinary things, and that’s the only consolation you can give him. So, it all depends on his level of intelligence.