A conversation about G-d, mysteries of the universe and soul, Israel... and speculation about biblical prophecies and the end of days.

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Thursday, July 20, 2017

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Someone Prayed for This


    by Reb Gutman Locks
     

 

Someone Prayed for This

 

     He came over, pointed to the tefillin and asked, "What are these?"

     I explained that they are a Biblical command to Jewish men to take G-d's words and bind them to our arms.

     "It means that we will do what G-d tells us to do"

      I asked him where he was from.

      He said, "Estonia."

      I cannot recall ever meeting anyone from Estonia. I asked him what he was doing in Israel. He said that he had just gotten married and came here for a vacation.

     "Why Israel? Was anyone in your family Jewish?"

     "My mother's grandparents were Jews, but because of the holocaust many of the family were killed and her grandparents changed their name."

     "So, your mother's grandmother was a Jew?"

     "Both her grandparents were Jews."

     "How do you know?"
     "My grandmother told me."

     "Are you sure your mother's grandmother was a Jew?"

     "That's what they said."

     "If your mother's grandmother was a Jew… then your mother's mother was a  Jew… and if your mother's mother was a Jew… then your mother is a Jew… and if your mother is a Jew… then you are a Jew… and you can put these on."

      I took his arm, put tefillin on him and had him read the Shema in English. I explained what a big day it was for him to learn that he is a Jew and to put on tefillin for the first time. I showed him how to pray in his heart and I talked to him about the role of a Jew in the world.

     I was about to tell him that he had to marry only a Jewish girl but I remembered that he just got married to a girl from Estonia and I thought, "There's no way I can tell him that he has to marry a Jewish girl. What's he going to do, divorce his Estonian bride now that he found out that he's a Jew?"

     I held back and didn't say anything, but then for some reason I asked, "Anyone in your wife's family Jewish?"

     "My wife is Jewish."

     "What! Are you sure?"

      He said that he was sure.

     "Does she know that you are Jewish?

     "No. She's standing right over there."

     "Well, go tell her that for some very good reason, maybe her grandparents' prayers, or maybe your grandparents' prayers, but for some reason two young people living in a place where almost no Jews live and you two met and married. This is really amazing."

     He started to walk away. He wanted to tell his bride that she married a Jew.

     I quickly told him about Shabbos and told him that he had to follow up on this blessing.

     He certainly looked different then when he first walked up to me.

     Nothing happens by accident. There is a reason for everything especially when something so very unlikely happens. Someone's prayers were answered.

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Tuesday, July 18, 2017

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You Opened My Heart


​  by Reb Gutman Locks 
    

You Opened My Heart

 

      He lives in Washington DC. He is a professor teaching business in Georgetown University. He was willing to put on tefillin and to read the Shema but then wanted to take them off. Instead of helping him to take them off, I gave him my usual instructions how to pray for his family … to thank G-d …. Pray for the Jews in danger, and he stood there a long time with his eyes closed.

     When he finished and took off the tefillin he thanked me. I asked, "What for?"

     He looked totally different than he did before he prayed. His face lighted up, "You showed me how to open my heart. I feel wonderful and thankful. It was a very loving experience. You taught me to direct my heart to Heaven."

     There were a few young Chabad bouchurim (yeshiva students) helping with tefillin that afternoon and they heard him rave about his experience. It was so timely as the students are being taught to just have the Jew to put on tefillin and get the physical mitzvah without any concern whatsoever for "directing their hearts to Heaven."

    

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Sunday, July 16, 2017

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Father to Son


   by Reb Gutman Locks
   

Father to Son

 

      When I called out to this Israeli he came right over to put on tefillin.

      He said, "But I do not know how."

    "That's what I am here for."

      First, I showed him how to bless his son. Then I helped him with the tefillin and to read the Shema. When he finished I had him talk to Hashem in his heart.    

     After he was finished he kneeled down and explained tefillin to his young son. Now the boy is probably not even two years old at the most and obviously could not understand what his father was talking about, but the boy got his father's message very clearly. 'My father loves me and these things he is pointing to and talking about are dear to my father so when I grow up they will be dear to me too.'     

     The father kissed his son whole heartedly and they both walked away richer from the experience.

     Why would an Israeli who doesn't know how to put on tefillin want to teach his young son about them? What was it he wanted the little boy to learn? He was teaching his son about their Jewish family, and about the ways of Jews … and thank G-d, his class was successful.

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Thursday, July 13, 2017

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Where Does It Say That?


​   by Reb Gutman Locks  
     

Where Does It Say That?

 

      One of my Shabbos guests is learning in a non-Chassidic yeshiva. He asked me if I go to the mikvah (immersion pool) every day.

     "Of course I do."

     "My Rabbi says that thinking that going to the mikvah cleanses you spiritually, opens the door to sin because you think you can just go to the mikvah and there won't be any repercussions. He asks where in the Torah does it say for a man to go to the mikvah every day?"

      If the mikvah opens the door to sin because we think that we are free to sin again then so does doing teshuva (repentance) open the door to sin. If we know that teshuva brings forgiveness does that mean that we are going to go out and sin again?

      I will show you where we learn to go to the mikvah every day but first a little background information.

     What is a Chassid and what is a Tsaddik? In this sense a Chassid is a Torah observant Jew who does more than is required, and a Tsaddik is a righteous observant Jew who does all that is required. All sources agree that the Chassid is greater than even a Tsaddik.

     I explained to the boy that first we go to the shower and with soap and water we clean our physical bodies. Then after we are physically clean we go to the mikvah for spiritual purity.

     The difference between these two Torah ways (Chassidic and non-Chassidic) is more than going to the mikvah. For instance, the men in those yeshivas usually do not sleep in their tzitzis (small fringed garment). When asked why they do not sleep in them they explain that the mitzvah is a daytime mitzvah as it says you shall look upon them, so there is no obligation to sleep with them.

     And I answer that they are doing the mitzvahs only because they are obligated to do them, not because they love them. All Chassidic males sleep in their tzitzis.

     If when you say the blessing and pull the strap to tighten your tefillin your focus is to be careful that they do not fall off, then your intention when you tie your tefillin is the same as your intention is when you tie your shoes… that they shouldn't fall off.

     When you say the blessing and tighten the strap for your tefillin, your awareness…your attention should be on the meaning of the words of the blessing you are saying, "Who has made us holy with His commandments…." What a unique joy to be able to do a physical act and fulfill the commandment that we shall be holy.

     And this is a Torah source for going to the mikvah every day. The Torah commands us, "You shall be holy…." We want to do whatever we can to live pure and holy lives even when it means doing more than we are obligated to do.



 


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Tuesday, July 11, 2017

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Absolutely Not!


   by Reb Gutman Locks
    

Absolutely Not!

 

     A tourist from Canada was walking out from the Kotel when Shmuli ran over to try to get him to stop and put on tefillin. He refused. I joined in. He refused. I shook his arm and said, "Come on, you'll have a good time. I promise you," he refused. Again and again no matter what we would say he really did not want to put on tefillin.

      I moved behind him and picked him up and bounced him saying, "Come put on tefillin. It's good. You'll have a good time."

     "No! Why do you want me to put on tefillin?"

     "Because you're Jewish and your mother would want you to do this."

     "No."

      Shmuli laid the tefillin strap on his hand and said, "Just say the blessing."

      I started the blessing for him to repeat and was surprised that he repeated the words. I put the tefillin on him and had him read the Shema in English.

     When he finished I explained, "Now take just one minute and do this. This is why we wanted you to put on tefillin. When you do a mitzvah it opens the door to Heaven. Take one minute. Close your eyes and picture everyone you love with light on their faces and smiling and ask G-d to bless them. Pray for your family and for everything that is important for you.

     He did it, but I couldn't tell if he really meant it. But he stayed there with his eyes closed for a couple of minutes.

     I waited until he was finished and then took some pictures for him. Then he really surprised me.

     After I took off the tefillin I asked him, "Was this a positive experience?"

     He nodded his head and said, "I'm glad you got me to do it. It was a very good experience. Really. Thank you."

     I took this quick picture and he walked away.

     Ha! Shmuli and I felt great…maybe at the beginning we seemed to him to be pests, but in the end he was glad we "got him."

     For all of you who are blessed to go out and try to help others to do mitzvahs see that it was not the tefillin that he saw to be so enjoyable, it was the taking advantage of the mitzvah to share love with his loved ones. This is why it is so important for you to have the Jews you help to do more than just the physical mitzvah but to also show them how to direct their hearts to Heaven. We want more than just having them do the mitzvah. We want them to experience the beauty in the mitzvahs so they will want to do them again.

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Sunday, July 09, 2017

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The Purpose


​   by Reb Gutman Locks  
    

The Purpose

 

     The Talmud says the reason G-d created the universe was so His creatures could be in awe of Him.[i]

     The Ramchal, the Ashkenazi Litvak perspective of Torah, teaches that the purpose of creation is the revelation of Hashem's Presence.

     Chabad, the Chassidic perspective of Torah, teaches that the purpose of creation is for man to make the lower world a dwelling place for Hashem.

     They are all saying the same thing albeit in slightly different ways.

     Hashem is Infinite and the Infinite has to be everywhere. But Hashem wants us to have freewill so we will earn our reward. In order to do this Hashem has to hide Himself. If we could see that He is truly here no one would choose to sin.

     Although He is everywhere, that is not our experience. Our experience is that we are here, and in truth, we are here. The Torah tells us that Hashem created the world, so the world and all that is in it are really here.

     The Eastern religions and philosophies teach that this world is an illusion.

     X-ianity teaches it is controlled by evil!

     The Torah teaches that even though creation is made out of nothing, and even though some day it will revert to nothing, for now it is something and this something is really here. And if we succeed in fulfilling our purpose for having been created and placed here, then this world will have been the most gorgeous opportunity possible.

     Shechina does mean G-d's Presence as most people believe. G-d is present in all places at all times. Shechina means the revelation of G-d's Presence, and this is the goal those three sources are referring to.

     No one can see G-d and live, but in His kindness the Heavens can open and allow us to see that He is truly here. We do not actually see Hashem. What we "see" is the awesome glory that radiates from His Presence ... the brilliant splendor that announces the King's Presence.

     How do we open the Heavens? The door in the Temple was locked at night. In the morning the Kohen would come to unlock it. Next to the door was a small hole in the wall. With the key in his hand the Kohen reached in through that hole and unlocked the door from the inside. Why all this trouble? To show that we have to do all that is proper for that gate to open. We have to walk up to that gate with the key in our hand, but the gate opens from the inside out, from the higher to the lower.

     Hashem opens the Gate to Heaven and we have to do all we can to please Him so in His mercy He will open it for us too.



[i] Shabbos 31 b

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Thursday, July 06, 2017

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Love & Fear



by Reb Gutman Locks at Mystical Paths
-





     In his book “Strive for Truth” Rav Dessler
asked, “What is wrong with hellfire mussar? [Strict Jewish ethics] If
you are aware of the consequences, you don’t do many sins.” This one minute video
answers his question.

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Tuesday, July 04, 2017

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Join the Army


​   by "Reb Gutman Locks

Join the Army

    

Uriel wrote: "I don't miss war or killing or death all around me, but I do miss being a soldier."

 

Gutman's response: There is a simple solution to your problem. Join the army of Hashem and go out onto the front line with your tefillin and Shabbos candles helping to bring Jews to Torah and mitzvahs with joy. You'll have the greatest Commander; you will be working for the most righteous cause, you will be armed with entirely trusted weapons, saving your people from drowning in assimilation, tremendous pay…whenever you pick up someone else the Commander will pick you up, wonderful retirement both in this world and the next, and it will make you happy, too. Go for it… join today!

 

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Sunday, July 02, 2017

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A Time of Favor


​   by Reb Gutman Locks 
    

A Time of Favor

 

     Some yeshiva students asked me for a Torah source for something I say to Jews when I help them to do a mitzvah. "The mitzvah opens the door to Heaven." This means that doing a mitzvah brings a time of favor and that when we do a mitzvah we should take advantage of this and pray for our loved ones. They were not against my point, but wanted a Torah source for it.

     The teaching is well known and there are many places we find the idea being taught. But first think what would happen if a subject of a King did something very bad for the King. Would that be an ideal time for him to ask the King for a favor? No way. Well, if doing something wrong brings a time of disfavor with an earthly King then certainly when we are talking about the Father of mercy should we know that doing something this King wants us to do will bring a time of favor.

     If that metaphor is not a good enough source, then see what Rabban Gamaliel said.[i] "Do His will as you would do your own will, so that He may do your will as He does His own will." This shows that if we do what Hashem wants us to do, i.e. the mitzvah with a full heart, then He will do what we want Him to do with His full heart.



[i] Pirkei Avot 2:4

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Friday, June 30, 2017

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The Israeli Orthodox Paratroopers

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Yesterday I had the opportunity to be in Jerusalem, at the Ammunition Hill war memorial site, to see the investment of the newly trained battalions of Tzanchanim – the Israeli Paratroopers.  Tzanchanim is one of Israel’s elite infantry brigades…

Service in the Paratroopers is voluntary and requires passing an intense two-day selection process that includes tests of physical fitness as well as emotional preparedness, leadership skills and the ability to cooperate in a group. Each year the brigade receives five times more applicants than it can accept. Paratrooper recruits go through a 7 12-month arduous training period that includes fitness training, Krav Maga training, harsh combat skills, specializing in a wide range of weapons, field craft, long marches with heavy equipment, weeks of survival training including navigation and camouflage, helicopter training, jump training, collaboration with other units, and urban warfare. More than a quarter of recruits drop out. At the end of the course, recruits must complete a "Beret March", and march 90 kilometers in full combat gear through all weather extremes”

The Paratroopers are also known as those who retook the Old City of Jerusalem during the 6 day war.

What was different about this particular investment (“teches kumta – giving of the beret”) was the deployment of the first (Jewish) ultra-orthodox paratrooper battalion.  The ultra-orthodox battalion got no reduction in requirements or changes to training…just a little better kosher food supervision and slightly longer person breaks to allow for prayer and Torah learning times.  They spent just as much time in the field, jumping out of planes, sleeping in holes, hiking mountains and deserts, and blowing stuff up as every other battalion.

So the normally secular crowd of parents and family attending was peppered with black hats, long beards, yalmukes, and nervous mothers with shaitels and tichels.

The next time you hear about the ultra-orthodox avoiding the army, tell the speaker to drop the B.S. or the charedi paratroopers just might come and kick some butt.

These young men will be putting their lives on the line starting the week after next, when they deploy to the Gaza border for the protection of the citizens of Israel for the next 5 months…after which they will move to Lebanon border.

Why was I there?  My youngest son.  In his yeshiva in Kiryat Malachi a group of 4 boys were given the challenge of making it into the paratroopers by a rebbe (yeshiva teacher) who had been a paratrooper himself (after being a challenge themselves).  He trained them for 6 months, including 10km hikes with sandbags on their backs and running with a stretcher of sandbags between them.  All 4 were successful in entering… and all 4 chose to go into the regular battalions (they didn’t want any breaks, thinking that the charedi battalion would get any…they didn’t).

While I was there I also met a famous charedi rabbi editor of a well known ultra-orthodox Torah newsletter who has a little brother in one of the battalions, and the charedi head of Zaka – the Israeli body recovery volunteer organization, who’s son was there.

The next generation is standing up, and as much as the FAKE NEWS wants to harp about groups of 30 rabble rousers protesting and some outlandish statements by some (usually non-leadership) charedi rabbis, these young men are taking on the mitzvah of protecting Eretz Yisroel and Klal Yisroel.  May Hashem watch over them, protect them, and give them success in their mission.

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Thursday, June 29, 2017

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When Bringing a Chair…


​   by Reb Gutman Locks  
    

When Bringing a Chair…

 

     I've noticed that there are two very different schools of thought in our morning minyan … at least when it comes to getting a chair.     

     Since I am the first one to arrive in my minyan one of my daily activities is to set up. For many years I set up everything, but then a few years ago I decided that it is better if everyone helps. So now I set up just the 5 tables, a couple of the table cloths, some 20 stenders (book stands) and some 5-10 chairs and siddurs (prayer books) leaving some of the work for others.

     Then later when the minyan arrives, if everything is taken and someone goes to get a siddur or a chair, I see which school of life he comes from… or maybe better yet, which school of life his mother came from. If they walk over to the place where the chairs are stacked, or to the bookcase and come back with one siddur, or one or two chairs which they then sit on, I think, "Oh, oh, his mother forgot to teach him a very important Torah lesson when he was a little boy."

     "If I am (only) for myself, what am I?"

      This morning, someone took the chair that was prepared for Rabbi Weiss so he went to get one for himself. Here he is pictured dragging 12 chairs over to the minyan! Rabbi Weiss is (thank G-d) in his 93rd year. Now what does this say for those young guys who go and come back with just enough for their own needs? How different is the life they live!

     G-d bless all the Rabbi Weiss(s) in the World…G-d bless all those who help others.

 

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Tuesday, June 27, 2017

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Direct Your Heart





   by Reb Gutman Locks
    

Direct Your Heart

 

     I helped this soldier to put on tefillin. He read the Shema and then turned for me to take them off. He seemed unmoved by the experience. I told him, "The mitzvah opens the door to Heaven. Talk to Hashem. Tell Him what you want for your family, for the soldiers, for the Jews in danger, everything that you want, and thank Him for all the good that He has given you. Talk to G-d in your heart."

     We usually cover our eyes when we read the Shema. The soldier didn't. He read the Shema seemingly indifferent to its meaning. He looked like he was reading a magazine. But when he began to talk directly to Hashem in his personal prayers he lowered his head and covered his eyes. I was taken by his sincerity … which I did not see when he read the Shema.   

     This is the easiest way to elevate a mitzvah from satisfying only the basic, physical commandment to also bringing spiritual awareness into the mitzvah. This is the aspect of a mitzvah that makes the mitzvahs so precious to us and to Hashem. G-d wants us to get the most out of the mitzvahs. The mitzvahs are for our benefit, but when we do them right and Hashem sees that the mitzvahs have effected a change in us, they become even more precious to Hashem.

     The Mishnah[i] tells us in order to make our mitzvahs "a sweet aroma to Hashem", we must "direct our hearts to Heaven." Sincerely talking to Hashem directs our hearts to Heaven.

 



[i] Minacot 13:11

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Friday, June 23, 2017

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What to do with x-ians Who Come to the Kotel


   by Reb Gutman Locks 
     

What to do with x-ians Who Come to the Kotel

 

     My recent article about the Fijian and other x-ians coming to the Kotel and praying loudly drew a lot of attention. I see now that I should have included what I think might be at least a partial solution to the problem.

    There are certain rules that are enforced at the Kotel. There is a guard stationed by the entrance to the men's side who sees to it that only males enter the men's area. They also insist that all (males) cover their heads when they are at the Kotel and have kippas there for them to use. I wonder for the need for non-Jews to cover their heads as this is a Jewish custom that was never intended for the non-Jews.

     I am pleased to say that the guard also insists that anyone wearing a cross around their necks (or wherever) put it under their shirts. I have never seen any of them complaining about having to hide their crosses when they come into our Holy Place.

     What I see that is almost entirely missing[i] is some type of outreach to the millions of gentiles who come to the Kotel instructing them as to what Hashem wants of them. We are obligated to be a light unto the Nations and there is no better opportunity than this to fulfill that obligation.



[i] The Chabad tefillin stand has these printed but hands out only a few a day.

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Thursday, June 22, 2017

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Wigs – Huge False Alarm


    by Reb Gutman Locks
      

Wigs – Huge False Alarm

 

     There is an enormous outcry within the religious community claiming that Jewish women cannot use wigs as the hair in the wigs may have been offered up to an idol and is therefore forbidden. This claim is "substantiated" by wig-makers who say that no matter where the hair is bought there is no way of knowing where it originated. This means that there is a chance that the hair in your wife's wig was donated to a god in a Hindu temple, and according to the rabbis who are warning about this, that wig is forbidden to be used.

     Here are the facts as far as I know. The Hindu women wanting to get their god to answer their prayers go to a Hindu temple and donate their hair. It is cut off by a temple barber and the hair is sold to wig-makers for its monetary value and the temple uses the money as it sees fit. For the temple this is a substantial source of income, even millions of dollars. Note that the hair is not donated to be used on the idol or to be used as a sacrifice to the idol, but is donated solely for its monetary value.

      Some people in India have complained that the temples make millions of dollars and the women do not get even one penny. Temple officials have defended their decision to sell the hair, arguing that the hair would otherwise be thrown away, but the money the temple earns from the hair sales can be used to fund orphanages and hospitals.

     "For example, with the money we received in exchange for the hair we financed children's education by building schools. We distributed approximately 30,000 free meals every day for the poor and needy, and we have built hospitals to cure those who, otherwise, could never afford such expensive treatments," said a director at the Tirumala temple.

     If this is in fact the reality, then that donated hair is not forbidden as a sacrifice to an idol.

     There are different levels or types of holiness and tumah (spiritual uncleanliness). When something fitting to be offered up in our Holy Temple was given to the Temple as a sacrifice that animal or wine or flour attained the status of kedushat ha-guf (holiness of its body). This means that that item itself became holy and even if it were somehow sold or transferred to someone it would still maintain that level of holiness.   

     As opposed to this, if something unfit for an offering, such as a deer or a broom was given to the Temple, this was given as bedek habayit i.e. given for the use of the Temple.

     When the Temple sold that item the holiness would leave the item and go onto the money that the Temple received in its place. This means that that item could be used however its new owner wished to use it. This second type of offering more parallels the Hindu donation of hair. The hair is given only for its monetary value or to be thrown away and not to be used in their temples.

     Assuming all of these facts are indeed true, particularly that the cut hair is used solely for its monetary value or thrown away, then the donated hair that might end up in a Jewish woman's wig would cause no problem at all. Its tumah left it when the temple sold it for money.

     When it comes to halacha (Jewish religious law) there are often many different opinions. In this case of the problem with wigs there are many learned rabbis giving their opinions, and almost all of them say that the wigs are forbidden. These posekim (Jewish law deciders) know more about Jewish law than I will ever know, so I place this article before them saying, if the facts are as I see, then it seems that the conclusion I have stated, that the wigs are not contaminated with the idolatry, is the proper conclusion.

     I am sure if they object I will hear about it.

   

 


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Tuesday, June 20, 2017

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G-d is One!



   by Reb Gutman Locks

G-d is One!

 

     An x-ian from Germany came up to me at the tefillin stand. He had seen one of my videos on Hinduism and wanted to tell me that he too had been in India and tried their belief but then returned to his religion.

     I used my standard explanations that are the best to quickly show them why they should not follow that religion, but as usual; being an x-ian he did not want to listen. It is so surprising that they openly contradict themselves, but still feel there is no problem with their belief.

     "Is G-d in the heart of the devil?"

     "G-d created the devil."

     "That's not the question. Is G-d in the devil's heart?"

     "No. He is in my heart"

     "They cheated you. They gave you a little god. Your god is not everywhere. The G-d of the Bible is Infinite. The Infinite has to be everywhere."

     "That's right. G-d is everywhere. G-d is Omnipresent."

     "Only worship the G-d Who is everywhere. Now the real problem comes with yushka, that guy they crucified 2000 years ago.

     "You shouldn't call him that. It's derogatory. His name is jeshua."

     "The Torah says that we should not let the names of their gods come across our lips. It's forbidden to even say his name…. They went to his grave on the fifth day. Was he in the grave on the fifth day?"

     "No, he was arisen."
     "Well, if he is not in the grave he is not everywhere. Don't worship him."

     "He is at the right hand of G-d."

     "Don't worship the right hand of G-d. Worship G-d."

     "He was the son of G-d."

     "When you pray to G-d do you call G-d your father?"

     "Yes."
     "Then you are the son of G-d. Why are you telling me that that guy was the son of G-d? G-d is the Father of all."

      A man came up, handed him something and walked away. He said that he was his father. Then he said that his father and mother were x-ians, but both of them were Jews.

     "How do you know?"

     "Because all of my grandparents were Jews."

      Living in Germany his parents must have thought it safer to convert and not be known as Jews. I asked him a couple more times about his grandparents and he was positive that they were Jews.

     "If your mother's mother was a Jew then your mother is a Jew, and if your mother is a Jew, you are a Jew."

     "I know. I've always known that I'm Jewish."

      I pulled his arm and said, "You are a Jew you can put on tefillin. I put tefillin on him and had him read the Shema in English.

    "You just read that G-d is One. G-d is not three like they taught you."

      He wouldn't listen. I gave him my email address and he wrote a couple of times and I answered him but it seems he has stopped responding.

      They teach x-ians if they even begin to have a doubt about yushka they will burn in hell forever. The last thing I told him was a quote from their book.

     "If you do not know what kind of tree it is look at its fruit."

      He nodded approval.

     "And the fruit of that man has been that more Jews have been killed in his name than in any other name in history."

      He walked away apparently unchanged, totally comfortable with all of his contradictions, but the information is in his head. Let's see if anything happens.

    



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