by Reb Gutman Locks at Mystical Paths
Here is a tough one. Yesterday, a rabbi with a long, gray beard brought a man over to me at the tefillin stand. I could see right away that they were brothers. I said, “Hey, it’s the same face.” The rabbi told me that, indeed, he was his brother and then excused himself to go daven mincha (afternoon prayers). I thought it was a little strange for him to just drop his brother off and leave like that.
The rabbi is so very religious that I assumed his brother would be religious too. But when I asked him if he had put on tefillin, he said that he had not. He added, “I have never put on tefillin.”
“Now I see why he left him here and quickly left,” I thought. But it was odd that he had never put on tefillin. After all, his brother is such an outgoing guy; I assumed that he would have helped him by now. But sometimes family members are so emotionally attached that they cannot help one another with certain things.
I convinced him to put on tefillin and showed him how to open his heart by praying for his family. He was surprised that he had such a good time with tefillin. He was genuinely happy. We took a couple of great pictures of him and then spoke about his life. He is 64 years old, married three times, but only to non-Jewish women. He has children from at least one of them.
“Oh, no!” I thought. “What has he done with his life! What can we do for him? He’s not about to divorce his non-Jewish wife at 64 and go looking for a Jewish woman to make a Jewish family. Isn’t it too late for him?”
No, it is not. It is never too late for anyone. I gave him an English copy of the Shema Yisrael and told him to say it twice a day, every day, from now on. He liked the idea and might very well do it.
But that’s not the point of the story. The point of the story is; as long as we are alive, we have the opportunity to improve ourselves spiritually. No matter what we have or have not done in the past, even if we use just our very last breath to remember G-d, our portion in the World to Come will be improved.
Thursday, January 29, 2009
// 1/29/2009 //