Sunday, October 12, 2008


“What a Shame”

by Reb Gutman Locks at Mystical Paths

The Kotel was very crowded the morning before Yom Kippu. It was the last day that we say the long pre-Yom Kippur prayers. Jews come from all over the country to ask for forgiveness and acceptance, and to prepare for the most awe-filled day of the year. Some come for the first time in their lives. Most people who come so early in the morning are Torah-observant but many are not.

The minyans (quorums) were mixed as there was not enough space to separate each group as there usually is. An Israeli young man, maybe in his mid-twenties, was putting on a pair of tefillin. Surely it was the first time he had ever tried. He was wearing a hooded sweat shirt. He put the tefillin for the head on first which is not the proper order. Not only that but he put it on while it was still in its protective case. And to top it off, he put it on over his hood so the tefillin and its straps were not even touching his head as they must.

One of the fine Jerusalemite men in my minyan looked at him and then turned to me and said, “Oy. What a shame that a Jew who lives in Israel and at his age does not know how to put on tefillin. My soul aches for him.”

Odd. I looked at the man with the tefillin in its case on his hood and my soul smiled. Okay, so he wasn’t doing it the way it is supposed to be done. But he was trying. He was in the right place at the right time trying to do what our ancestors have done for thousands of years. That he did not know how to do it and was doing it anyway is even more to his merit. I thought, “How wonderful it is that Jews are coming home.”

Is there a lesson here for us to learn? If there is I would say that it is addressed to you who are reading this and do know how to put on tefillin. We have a wonderful opportunity today. Now we can help a Jew who does not yet know how to put on tefillin. The redemption is happening. We see signs all around us. Soon all Jewish men will know how to put on tefillin without your help. You had better hurry if you want to be part of bringing someone home.


  1. Excuse me for asking but...
    Did anyone try and offer to help him? Or just stare/ignore/feel bad?

    What about the incredible opportunity ANYONE there had??!

  2. Maybe it would help more if you remind the FFB Jews and those who represent the establishment in religious communities not to look down their noses at Bal Tshuvas.

  3. Yes Yankel his friend helped him as soon as he saw the problem.

  4. kol hakavod to the young man for trying. that is actually a very moving story, thanks for posting it. i think it sums up the soul's desire of every jew in israel, if not in the world: to come close to our Creator.

    i'm glad that he rec'd help and i hope and pray that he also got the proper encouragement and warmth to make him want to continue for the rest of his life!!!


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