Kenneth Cohen

Separate from Them

The Torah tells us, מדבר שקר תרחק, that we are to distance ourselves from falsehood. Similarly, in our morning prayers, we ask Hashem, to keep us far away from a bad friend, a bad neighbor, or a bad person.

The influence of such evil and negativity, has a bad effect on us. It blocks us from connecting to all that is good and sacred. We are urged to be strong and not feel sorry for such harmful individuals.

After the horrific and tragic events of October seventh, there is a new gauge to know who we must not have any connection with, whatsoever. This has to do with the response to what took place that fateful day. If a friend, associate, co-worker or family member, Jew or non-Jew, cannot condemn what took place that day, he is one with whom we must absolutely sever all ties.

There are many young people who may be naive and feel that it’s okay to worry about the rights of the so called Palestinian people. Perhaps we might succeed in setting the record straight, and convince them of the truth.

But if there is a human being that hears of these Holocaust-like atrocities, and is not shocked and outraged, and cannot condemn it, he is one that must not be a part of our lives. If he is a Jew, he is self hating. And if he is a non-Jew, he is a vicious and dangerous anti-Semite. We must tell it like it is and not mince words.

These recent events make it abundantly clear, who is with us, and who is not. And if they are not, they are connected to that very evil and falsehood, that the Torah and our rabbis, warned us that we must stay away from.

When the dust settles after this tumultuous time, it will be a different and better world. It will be a world where evil and goodness are clear. We must be wise enough to cleave to the good.

About the Author
Rabbi Cohen has been a Torah instructor at Machon Meir, Jerusalem, for over twenty years while also teaching a Talmud class in the Shtieblach of Old Katamon. Before coming to Israel, he was the founding rabbi of Young Israel of Century City, Los Angeles. He recently published a series of Hebrew language-learning apps, which are available at