by Reb Gutman Locks at Mystical Paths
An Israeli came to the Kotel with a group of young boys. The boys were around 11 years old and he was maybe 25. He was their guard. He had a rifle slung over his shoulder. It’s the reality here that when you travel around the country with a group, especially with a group of children, you have an armed guard go with you. The guards are always ex-soldiers or amazingly, ex-soldierettes – Yes, young Jewish women also carry rifles here.
Israelis are famous for being stubborn. Once they set their mind to something it is really hard to move them. I went up to the guard and asked him to come put on tefillin. He refused in a way that meant “No, and don’t bother me either.” He was sitting on a step and was not about to get up to put on tefillin. I saw how strongly he refused and felt it was best to back off. Most often, when you push on a guy like that it ends up in an argument which doesn’t help anyone. But instead, I gave it one more shot. He was sitting with a handful of the young kids.
“How many Jews are there in the world?” I asked loudly. The kids all threw out wild guesses. He guessed too. I didn’t even hear their responses. I just shook my head, “No. Not even close.” That usually gets their interest up.
“In the entire world, there is only one Jew.” They all looked at me like I was nuts. “Really,” I went on “There is only one Jew in the entire world … and each of us has a portion of that one Jewish body.”
The boys tried to understand what I was saying. I looked at the guard and said, “And that’s why it’s so important for you to put on tefillin. Even though you are only putting it on your arm, since we are all one you will be protecting the soldiers on the frontline.”
I never know what to expect when I challenge someone like this. Will he get tougher, dig in and forget the deepest truth of our existence, or will he understand what I was saying?
He smiled a little and stood up. I took him by the arm and put tefillin on him. It was a warm, shared experience. We felt that closeness that only true brothers feel, and although they didn’t know it, the thousands of Jews on the front felt it too.
Sunday, January 11, 2009
// 1/11/2009 //