by Reb Gutman Locks at Mystical Paths
Yesterday at the Kotel, a man came in with his young son. The boy was around four years old. They were from Argentina. I asked the man to put on tefillin, but he refused. I said, “Then just give your little boy a blessing. Put your right hand on his head and repeat after me.” He put his hand on the boy’s head and repeated the blessing. It is the blessing that the Kohanim give to the congregation every day here in Israel, and on holidays outside the Land.
When we finished, I told him to say out loud what he wants G-d to give to his son. He said a few things and then, as usual, I asked if the boy is a good boy and, as usual, the father said, “The best.”
Why do I have them do this? Number one, it is a religious, spiritual act to bless your children. It brings G-d to mind, as well as your love for your loved ones. But not only that, it usually softens them up, so when I ask them again to put on tefillin, they will agree. And even if they don’t, still, they had a positive experience at the Kotel, loving their kids and talking to G-d.
When we finished, I again asked him to put on tefillin. He was up for it and smiled, asking his son, “Do you want me to do this?” The little boy looked over at the tefillin stand and saw another man with those black leather straps wrapped all over his arm and on his head and neck. It looked a little scary to him. The boy shook his head. “No.” The father immediately refused. He wanted his son to have a positive experience at the Kotel and was not about to do anything to upset him.
They started to walk away. I quickly yelled over to my friend by the stand, asking if he had any candy there. He ran over and handed me two pieces. I gave the little boy one, and I told him that if he brings his father over to put on tefillin, I will give him the other one too. I held it up so he could see the brightly colored wrapping.
They walked around taking a video. I waved a couple of times at the boy, showing him to bring his father over. As they were leaving I asked the father again, but he quickly refused. Then, for some reason, he again asked his son if he should do it. This time the little boy nodded, “Yes.” He came over and put on tefillin, read the prayers, took some great pictures, and waved to his smiling wife and three daughters who were standing near the men’s side. I took four more pieces of candy and gave them to the very happy boy.
Are you allowed to bribe someone to get him to do a mitzvah? Sure you are.[i]
[i] We may encourage people to do mitzvahs even for a reward with the hope that the performance of the mitzvahs will bring them to do them for the right reason. Pesachim 50b.
BS"D - בסיעתא דשמיא