by Reb Gutman Locks at Mystical Paths
A group of some ten American boys were walking away from the Kotel yesterday afternoon. They were around 13 years old. When they came in, I asked them if they had put on tefillin, and they told me that they put them on in the morning.
By the way they were dressed and behaved, you could tell that they were being raised in a good neighborhood and by loving parents. They were on a school trip with their rabbi and teacher. They were really privileged kids, although they might not know it.
I stopped them. “I don’t have to worry about you guys,” I said.
That got their interest up, so they gathered around me.
I explained, “I don’t have to worry about you guys marrying non-Jewish girls. You put on tefillin every day, and you go to a Jewish school. I don’t have to worry about you.”
They all nodded that, obviously, I was right.
“But there are a lot of Jewish boys in your neighborhood that I do have to worry about."
A few of them nodded their heads in agreement.
“You have to help them,” I said. “It’s up to you to do it. They’ll listen to you because you are their friends. But you have to be able to tell them why it is so important not to intermarry. It’s not enough just to warn them not to do it. That probably wouldn’t help.”
I gave them my standard, two-minute explanation...
“All religions in the world except Judaism are based on belief. Whatever religion you believe in, that’s your religion. A Buddhist can become a Muslim in one minute, and then, if he wants, he can change and become a x-ian the next minute. It all depends on which book he believes in. But we are not Jews because of our beliefs. We are Jews because of our mothers. We are not a religion. We are a people. And you want your children to be as you and your family have always been, Jewish people.”
One of them wanted to know where we learn this from, because some of them have heard their friends say that even if the father is Jewish, the children are Jewish.
“Look at our history. Avraham’s wife was Sarah. They had a son named Yitzchak. Avraham and Sarah’s maidservant, Hagar, also had a son. His name was Ishmael. If Judaism went according to a person’s beliefs, since both of these boys were raised with Avraham’s beliefs, both of them would be Jews. And if Judaism went according to the father, since Avraham fathered both boys, both of them would be Jews. Both of them are not Jews; Yitzchak is a Jew, and Ishmael is an Arab.”
I could see that the boys understood what I said, and that they were willing to help. I singled out one of them. “You have to help. Is it a deal?”
He said, “Yes.”
I stuck out my hand and we shook hands clinching the deal.
Their rabbi thanked me, and they walked away not only with a lot of good information, but motivated to help. Even if only one of them, only once in his entire life, help a fellow Jew to not intermarry, he will have done a great thing.
When you help someone, be smart. Show them how to go on and help others, too. You will reach a lot more people with the same amount of effort.
Sunday, May 24, 2009
// 5/24/2009 //