Sunday, February 08, 2009


We Don’t Win Them All

by Reb Gutman Locks at Mystical Paths

I’m sorry to say that we don’t win them all. The other day, I begged a warm, American guy to put on tefillin.

He said, “Tomorrow. Tomorrow we are coming for a Bar Mitzvah, so I will put them on tomorrow.”

No matter how I pleaded he would not cooperate. He was with a friend, the father of the Bar Mitzvah boy. The father and the boy would not put on tefillin either. I had the father bless his son. It did not soften him up at all.

When I told him to tell his son to marry only a Jewish girl, he said, “Marry whoever you like!”

I yelled at him not to do that. The father just smiled and walked away.

What was going on? The first guy I failed with told me that he is married to a non-Orthodox convert. I told him to make sure that his children were Jewish. He became noticeably upset with me. “How could you say such a thing?” he asked. He was truly hurt. I was touching a very tender subject for him. He wanted nothing to do with “Orthodox” things, as they challenge the very Jewishness of his wife and children.

The father of the Bar Mitzvah boy was divorced from his Jewish wife (the mother of his son), remarried and divorced again, and was now living with his non-Jewish girlfriend. He is the one who told his 13-year-old son to marry whoever he pleased. They walked away untouched.

That day I was able to put tefillin on a lot of Jews. I talked to a lot of people. There were a number of beautiful successes. But who do you think about when you walk away? That Bar Mitzvah boy, his father and his friend. They stay with you way after the ones you were able to help are gone.


  1. these are tough ones. surely you have to be yourself and be in the moment. but, with these types of cases if you get mad, upset or 'demanding' even in a subtle way it will turn off people who already are unreceptive, suspicious or who have issues about religious people.

    a kind suggestion: when you encounter these kinds of people try to go more deeply into your resources of chesed, of kindness. warmth, humor and kindness may make them think twice later "about that nice relgious man at the kotel".
    if you come from your heart softly and with goes much farther than getting upset with these people.
    i know this from experience.

  2. What you said about the non-orthodox convert sounds spiteful. Some Orthodox establishments make it impossible for people to discover the way of Torah and so if a convert discovers Torah via a non-orthodox route then how can you imply that their faith has no value? Did you even ask if the pair were observant? Would it not have been better to ask a gentle question instead of choosing to disparage their faith? Afterall the man is not married to an idol worshipper!

  3. Clearly if a man or a woman loves his/her spouse with all of their heart, they will be protective of them. Multiply that times one hundred for the kids. This is so obvious. Obviously people will be offended by such comments.

    Obviously I will be offended if my husband tells me not to eat a sweet. I need to lose weight, but does that mean I will welcome his gentle reminder? Of course not. Most people wouldn't.

    I don't think lack of information is the issue sometimes. Therefore, if someone I love needs to be guided in a certain direction I need to think about what will work to actually guide them.


Welcome to Mystical Paths comments. Have your say here, but please keep the tone reasonably civil and avoid lashon hara.

Your comments are governed by our Terms of Use, Privacy, and Comments policies. We reserve the right to delete or edit your comments for any reason, or use them in a future article. That said, YOU are responsible for YOUR comments - not us.

Related Posts with Thumbnails