Monday, May 18, 2009


When All Else Fails …

by Reb Gutman Locks at Mystical Paths

When all else fails, you can always try G-d.

Yesterday, I was trying to convince a young, American student to put on tefillin. He studies at Hebrew University. He has put on tefillin before, but yesterday he just did not want to do it.

I tried some ten different ways to get him to cooperate, but he was strong in his refusal. I asked him why he did not want to put them on, thinking to answer his objections. After all, putting on tefillin is really a pleasant thing to do, especially at the Kotel. It doesn’t hurt. It doesn’t cost money. If I asked the guy to give me a pint of blood, he would probably give it to me, so why not put on tefillin? Jews have been putting on tefillin for some 4,000 years, so it was not like I was trying to sell him something new. Hey, when you stop and think about it, why would anyone ever refuse to put on tefillin?

He said that he just didn’t fell like it. “Look, I just want to go to the Wall and talk to G-d.” He was getting a little fed up with me, so I figured that I had better back off.

“Fine,” I said, “but if you talk to G-d with tefillin on, your prayers will be louder.”

“Let me go talk to G-d!”

“Okay,” I said. “Go ask G-d if He wants you to put on tefillin. Ask Him what He thinks and then listen for His answer. If you hear a voice say, “Why didn’t you listen to that nice old man I sent to you, when he asked you to put on tefillin?” then you’ll know that you’re supposed to do it.”

“What old man?” he asked.

“Me!” I answered.

He kind of smiled, and walked away, obviously glad to be rid of me. About two minutes latter, I saw him walking toward me with a smile on his face.

“You were right,” he said, as he put out his arm.

It’s nice to know that you can get some help around here when you need it.


  1. yasher koach on your deveykus to help people with tefilin at the koisel. respectfully: you don't ever want to bother anyone. going to the koisel is such a powerful experience for yidden. many are very focused and 'need' to do what they have to do. a friendly, warm suggestion of tefilin is fine...or a statement like "wanna bind heaven and earth?" or "would you like to connect yourself to H' at this holy place?"...
    you know what i mean.

    as long as there's no chance that the person feels bothered, i think this is very valuable to consider.


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