Sunday, December 27, 2009


I Broke The Law, Follow Up

by Reb Gutman Locks at Mystical Paths

Comments: (from five commentators)

- “There is no divine protection for those soldiers who said those blessings late. What they did was like trying to use a stolen lulav [palm branch] for a mitzvah. It is invalid for the fulfillment of the mitzvah. You cannot fulfill a mitzvah through committing a transgression.

- “I can’t approve of this. Not only are those blessing all in vain, you accomplished nothing. There was no blessing and no mitzvah. You can’t play games with the code of Jewish Law.”

- “This sort of thing [late blessings] is a hallmark of deviant movements, not Torah.”

- “There is a time and place for everything.’

- To say that a mitzvah provides protection is utter nonsense, bordering on heresy.”


I took your very serious charges to heart. After all, you quoted the Talmud and the Code of Jewish Law. Can anyone argue against the “facts?” Certainly, the Jewish law is precise, clear, and to the point. You have read it, and you have made your legal decisions known.

But you know what? You made two big mistakes. Number one, you looked at the Jewish world from a very narrow, strict eye. Number two, you forgot that the cold halacha (Jewish law) has a heart.

As usual, in such matters, not wanting to rely on my own opinion, I took your objections to the Kotel.

First, I asked a rabbi in his 80s who retired many years ago from being the leader of a community in Chicago. I asked him what my punishment would be for breaking the law in this case.

“Punishment? Putting tefillin of 30 soldiers? Hum….You are going to get it only from the One Above,” he smiled lovingly, and with admiration, as he spoke.

“Okay.” I thought, “Maybe, since he is so loving, he did not want to be frank with me. I’ll ask someone else.”

I asked another man who puts tefillin on people at the Tel Aviv Airport.

He said, “I put tefillin on people all night long.”

I asked him how he could do that. He told me that there, pasted on the wall where he stands, is a response from the Rosh HaYeshiva Moshe Feinstein, OBM. He wrote, “If a man will not put on tefillin that day except for at this time, then he is allowed to put them on, with a blessing, at any time of the night.”

Well, that certainly sounded right to me, but still, the guy I asked is a Chabadnik, and we all know that Chabadniks will do anything they can do to get someone to do a mitzvah. So, I went to the top of the line. I asked a Rav who, besides teaching gemora for more than 30 years, has authored more than 60 books on the Kabalah, 55 of them on the Zohar. He is a renown source of Torah knowledge. However, he is so strict that I always brace myself when I ask him a question.

He said, “As long as you are not telling them to make the blessing, then it is all right.”

As to the comment about how claiming that a mitzvah will guard your life is “almost heresy.” look, for instance, at the Book of Proverbs: “He that keeps the commandments keeps his own soul.”[i]

My dear commentors, look carefully into how quick and stern your judgment was. Have a heart. These guys were not sleeping all day, playing around and willfully pushing off the mitzvah. They were carrying rifles with ammunition. They were guarding our lives with their lives. Couldn’t you have looked somewhere within your learning for a good reason to let them say a blessing?

The Sages always looked for leniencies to allow a Jew to be rewarded, and not, G-d forbid, condemned.[ii]

[i] Proverbs 19:16
[ii] A Jewish court that would condemn a Jew to death once in 70 years was called a “bloody court.”


  1. Im the anon who commented "theres a time and a place for everything."

    But I meant it inclusively, as in, there is a time and a place for exceptions...


  2. I read the original post and I saw the questioning comments, and it's very impressivethat you sought out answers from so many sources.

  3. If I remember correctly, when Israel went to war in ancient times they wore their Tephillin as part of their uniform and had it on as long as they were in battle. Therefore I was very suprised by some of the comments you received. I am very glad that you cleared that up.

  4. I'm skeptical of anonymous rabbonim or mekubalim or whatever but since you cite an extremely well regarded posek, and not just any posek but one to whom the Rebbe sent many people with shailos, I would appreciate if you could tell me specifically where this teshuva of his can be found.

  5. Menashe, Contact the Chabadniks who help with tefillin at the airport here. You, obviously, will accept only a Chabadnik's answer, so this should satisfy you. The Chabadnik I spoke with is Shlomo Reinetz from Kfar Chabad. Be well. Gutman

  6. Technically, we should be wearing tefillin all day long. So those people who jumped on your case are fools.

  7. Anonymous,

    Those that wore (and wear) tefillin all day removed them at shkia because of the gezaira of chazal, lest we fall asleep in them which is ossur midoraisa. I don't want to say "who's the fool now" but it's very immature to speak this way.

    R' Gutman,

    I am contacting Chabad of BG now.


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