by Reb Gutman Locks @ Mystical Paths
Yesterday I asked a soldier to put on tefillin. He was a nice guy, but he refused. I tried all of my standard tricks, but none of them worked. I have a fairly new one that I use with soldiers. I call out, “Smole! Yamin! Smole! Yamin!” (Left! Right! Left! Right!) It is the command that they are given when they march, and I “command” them to march over and put on tefillin. They usually smile, but it rarely brings them over to put on tefillin. I tried a couple of other things, but he wouldn’t budge. He said, “I put on tefillin at my bar mitzvah, and that was enough.” He smiled, and walked off.
I went back to my cart and started to help someone else. To my great surprise, the soldier walked over, rolled up his sleeve and waited for me to help him. I quickly put tefillin on him and gave him a copy of the Shema to read. When he finished, and also prayed for his family, I took the tefillin off and had to ask, “What made you change your mind?”
He said, “My grandfather would never forgive me if I came to the Kotel and didn’t put on tefillin.”
What do we learn from this nice story? Well, we see that love for the family can bring someone to some amount of Torah observance, but we already knew that. Here is something different to think about: Nothing I said or did actually brought him over. It was clearly his grandfather who gets the credit for that. But, if I had not walked over to him and tried, he would never have thought of his grandfather’s love of the Kotel and the mitzvah of tefillin.
What’s the point? We (you and I) have to reach out to help. It is only then that G-d decides if we are going to succeed.
“Open for me (an opening the size of) the sharpness of a needle, and I will open for you the upper gates.”[i]
[i] Zohar, Leviticus 95, Exodus 39:33 Rashi, Shir Hashrim Rabbah 24