by Reb Gutman Locks at Mystical Paths
This question has to do with an old argument that should have been settled a long time ago. Simply stated, should we protect the sanctity of our Holy Torah and its treasured mitzvahs by reserving them for Jews we consider pure and ready, or should we go out and literally gather up every Jew we can find and try to bring them to the Torah?
Because of this controversy, Yours Truly was called a rasha (evil man) by the leader of the rabbis who champion the side that says, “Guard the holiness and purity of the mitzvahs.”
It was 1986. The Rav of that school of thought, referring to me, said, “Like that evil man who stands at the Kotel and puts tefillin on men who are wearing short pants and have dirty thoughts.”
Well, for the most part he was right. I was standing there putting tefillin on men who were wearing short pants. But in all honesty, I could not see their dirty thoughts. And it is amazing to me that even though he was far away in Benei Brak, he could see what they were thinking!
So how do we settle this longstanding argument? First, what is my defense? Basically, to sum it up, I believe that we are not allowed to keep the sick people out of the hospital. If we have to wait for them to go home and put on long pants, and then check to see that they wash their hands properly, or preferably, go to the mikvah, say the preparatory prayers, have a pure mind and proper intentions, it could take a very long time for any of them to come home. In fact, most likely all but a handful would die along the way. So I believe that we have to scrape them off the Wall, or anywhere else we can find them.
What do they say? They want to ensure that the mitzvah is being done in its most proper way as is fitting. They say, “Before doing such a mitzvah as tefillin there is the question of “cleanliness of body, and even cleanliness of soul.” They ask, “Have they learned the laws of tefillin well enough to merit and understand this mitzvah? Are they ready for this important step in their lives?”
However, the approach I follow, which is the Chassidic path, asks only one question; “Is your mother Jewish?” If they say, “yes” we bring them in and love them and set them on the path of uncovering their true identity. We try to show them how to strip away the peelings that bind them to the drudgery of an entirely physical world and lead them to the reality of their spiritual nature. Full throttle, fast forward, as much as they can handle at that time!
Who is right? Well, it seems to me that the many hundreds of thousands of Jews who now love Shabbos, putting on tefillin, and observing the delightful ways of purity at home are the proof that the Chassidic teachings are correct. Most of these Jews were brought home by other Jews who could not wait for them to wake up on their own.
Perhaps, way back then, when the world was so far from redemption, one might imagine that they could take their time coming home. But now, when the redemption is so very close, we cannot wait. We have to do whatever we can to find any living Jew and bring him or her to the joy and beauty of Torah.
Once the Moshiach comes and the revelation of Hashem’s Presence is evident to all, our spiritual capacities will have been set by our previous accomplishments.
When the Temple stood, and Hashem’s Presence was revealed not everyone experienced the same degree of revelation. Each person received according to his or her level of attainment.
The more we grow, the higher our station. This means that we will experience more of the revelation both in this world now and when the Redemption finally comes, too. But we better hurry, because we do not have a lot of time left!
BS"D - בסיעתא דשמיא