Sunday, August 01, 2010

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You Are Making it Worse

by Reb Gutman Locks at Mystical Paths

A religious family from Monsey came to Jerusalem for their younger son’s bar mitzvah. They were here for two weeks. This is a wonderful way to celebrate a bar mitzvah. It took almost the same amount of money that the “required” bar mitzvah party in Monsey would have cost. Instead of renting the expensive hall, and hiring the expensive caterer, they rented a small apartment here for two weeks, and they celebrated at the Kotel.

    The importance of a bar mitzvah is not just that the family and friends have a good time. Nor is it how many presents stack up in the other room. The importance of a Bar Mitzvah is that the boy gains some spiritual understanding of what stage in life he has reached. This realization is a lot easier to accomplish in Jerusalem than in Monsey.

    The family had a wonderful, and meaningful time. But, on their last day here, when they came to the Kotel to daven (pray) with our netz minyan(sunrise quorum), the two boys and the father looked very sad. They arrived more than an hour early, and I watched them mope around. They stood by the Kotel for a long time, and when they turned around, instead of their faces shining as they should have, they looked depressed.

    “Why are you all looking so sad?” I asked.

   “This is our last day here. It’s so beautiful here. We’re sad because we have to leave,” the father answered.

   “But you are missing the entire point of coming here!” I scolded them. “First off, when you are sad because you have to leave, you are acting it as if you have already left. If you love it here, then fully enjoy being here while you are still here. Don’t ruin your last day.”

   “You’re right,” the father answered, but still he was not smiling.

    “When you come here you are supposed to recharge your spiritual batteries so when you return to America you will take some of the holiness with you. You are not supposed to be sad.”

    “If you want to get the most out of your experience here, then make up your mind to make your life in Monsey more holy than it has been. Do something more than you have been doing. For instance, you can bring your tefillin to work with you every day to see if you can help another Jew learn to love the mitzvah. Or, you can host a Torah class in your home once a week. There are lots of things that you can do.”

    “You have to bring Jerusalem into your home there in New York. You do this by taking your greater appreciation of holiness with you when you go back. Try to remember what you are experiencing here, so you can reach for it there, too. Sure it’s easier here, but G-d is everywhere, and He is certainly available there, too.”

   I hope that they will listen. They said that I was right, but even the best medicine in the world is worthless if you just let it sit on the shelf. Holiness does not only depend on location. Even more than location, it depends upon our deeds.

Photo: The Temple Mount from Har Zaietim (Mt. of Olives) by Reb Locks

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