Monday, November 02, 2009



by Reb Gutman Locks at Mystical Paths

Yosef is the kind of person who likes to help. The other day at the Kotel, he saw a man in his fifties putting tefillin on an older man. He looked like he needed help, so Yosef went over and asked if he could lend a hand.

“No! We have a rabbi with us. He is taking care of everything,” the fifty-year-old answered. He probably thought that Yosef was trying to get money from them, so he pushed him away.

They were speaking with a Spanish accent, but it was mixed with Yiddish.

“Where are you from?” Yosef asked.

“Columbia,” he answered.

“But you are speaking Yiddish!”

“My father is from Europe. He immigrated to Columbia a long time ago.” He pointed to the old man whom he was helping with the tefillin.

“Wow. This is your father? He can give you a blessing,” Yosef told him.

“No, no! I am okay, please,” Again, he tried to push off Yosef.

Yosef turned to the father and said, “Would you give me a blessing?”

The father said, “I don’t know how.”

“It’s simple. Just put your hands on my head and repeat after me.”

Yosef took the old man’s hands and put them on his head. “Repeat after me,” he told him and slowly said the Hebrew prayer of the kohanim (priests).

This is the blessing that the Kohanim are commanded to give to the Jewish people. This is also the blessing that fathers give to their children on Shabbos and holidays.

The old man slowly repeated Yosef, word for word:

“G-d make you like Ephraim and Menashe.

Hashem – bless you - and guard you. - Hashem – make His countenance – shine - upon you - and be gracious to you. - Hashem – turn – His countenance – toward you – and grant – you - peace.”

In the middle of the prayer, for some strange reason, Yosef started to cry. He had no idea why.

After the blessing, the old man looked at Yosef lovingly, and slowly rolled up his sleeve. Yosef saw the numbers tattooed on his forearm, and he cried even more.

The old man said, “I am a Kohen. This is the first time in my life that I have ever given that blessing to anyone.”

Each one of us is born exactly as we are for a specific reason. A Jewish man is born to the priestly tribe just to give this blessing to the Jewish people. This old man went through hell, and now is close to the end of his life. If Yosef had not felt in his heart to walk over and try to help his fellow Jew, this old man might very well have left the world without ever having fulfilled the reason he was born a Kohen.

G-d bless Yosef, and all of the “Yosefs” out there who care enough to walk over and ask, “Can I help you?”


  1. Unfortunately, that is the situation at the kotel. A minority of shnorers harass pilgrims, so when someone genuinely wants to help, people are very suspicious.

    My father, z"l, had so much anxiety whenever he would go. His wardrobe was 'American' (chinos and running shoes) and they would see him from a mile away. Even with me escorting and pushing them away (sometimes literally, albeit gently), he could not enjoy coming to the Wall.

  2. I surely share your feelings, but thank G-d, things are getting better. At least for the moment. They have a guard standing there to "protect" the tourists i.e. expel the aggressive beggars. Indeed, they are an embarrassment to the Jewish people. Note, we are not speaking of the sincere, humble, needy people who are there. We should all help to support those in true need.

  3. this is a very moving piece, thank you.


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