by Reb Gutman Locks at Mystical Paths
David absolutely refused to put on tefillin! He insisted that he was an atheist, and that he was going to raise his children as atheists, and that it will not affect their Jewishness at all!
“You’re right,” I told him.
That surprised him.
I explained, “Belief, or lack of belief, in G-d has nothing to do with being a Jew. Belief has to do with religion. Being Jewish has to do with having a Jewish mother. We are a people, not a religion.”
“But, you are not really an atheist,” I added.
“Yes, I am,” he argued.
“An atheist knows that there is no G-d,” I explained. “You can’t prove that there isn’t a G-d. You mean to say that you are an agnostic. An agnostic says that he doesn’t believe in G-d.”
“That’s right,” he agreed.
“But, you’re not a very good agnostic, either,” I told him.
“What do you mean?”
I asked him where he lives. He said, “Los Angeles.”
I said, “Let’s say that you are driving in L.A. and you make a wrong turn. You end up in Downtown, in the Watts District.” (This is a dangerous neighborhood in L.A.) “Then, your car breaks down! You get out to go look for a gas station, and you see 10 or 15 tough guys walking toward you. A few of them have big clubs in their hands, too. What do you do?” I asked.
“Nothing,” he answered.
“That’s not true. You would start praying real quick. You would say, “G-d help me! You are not really a very good agnostic.”
I asked him if he believed in existence.
“You mean reality?” he asked.
“Yeah, the one reality that is all that exists,” I said.
He said, “Sure.”
“Well, that is G-d,” I explained. “G-d’s most holy Name means Existence (Was, Is, and Will Be). G-d is the one existent Being. He is all.”
I changed the subject, “How come, wherever you go, you always try to learn something new from the people you meet, and when you come to your own homeland, to your own people, you throw out your chest and say, ‘No!’?”
“You should be coming here saying, ‘Show me what you know.’ What did you come here for, anyway, to teach us, or to learn something from us? Don’t you believe in education?”
“You got me, mister,” he said. “You said the word, ‘education.’”
I put tefillin on him–obviously it was his first time. He prayed nicely to Existence, and we took a couple of good pictures. When I took the tefillin off of his arm, he leaned over, and with a smile, said to his friend, “Don’t tell my father.”
BS"D - בסיעתא דשמיא