Thursday, February 17, 2011


You Don’t Have To Be Able To Walk To Do It

by Reb Gutman Locks @ mystical paths

image003 (15)Boys from the American “Camp Simcha” came to the Kotel yesterday for their “Wish at the Wall” trip. All of the campers were wheelchair-bound, religious Jewish boys. They stopped in the plaza in front of the Kotel and sang some uplifting songs before they wheeled into the Kotel area itself. The counselors were all yeshiva students. To see the love and devotion that this camp gives to their campers, look at the video of their outing to Times Square a few months ago:

Camp Simcha Times Square

     Obviously, like all Jews, they were looking for something special to happen when they came to the Kotel. One of them was wheeled over to the tefillin booth just as someone was trying to talk a Jew from Argentina into putting on tefillin. The tourist was a little reluctant, so I jumped in and said, “Yeah, you can put them on, and he [pointing at the boy in the wheelchair] is going to help you.” The boy quickly wheeled away saying, “No way!”

     “Come on,” I yelled, “it will be a great experience.” He turned around and wheeled over to the tourist. It was the first time in his life that he helped another Jew to put on tefillin.

     After the tourist had tefillin on, a bunch of the boys and counselors gathered around. I asked one of the counselors, “How many times have you put on tefillin?” He was young, and had put them on for three years.

     “Wow!” I said, “That’s over one thousand times!” He felt really good. But then I asked, “And how many times have you put them on someone else?”

     “Never,” he said.

     I yelled, “Why are you so selfish?” and I smacked him on his shoulder.

     I then looked over at the boy in the wheelchair and loudly asked him, “How many times have you put tefillin on someone else?”

     “Once,” he said, with a smile on his face.

     “Hooray for you!” I yelled, as I patted him on his chest.

     Then I looked at the young counselor and said, “If he can help someone else to put on tefillin, so can you.”

     The boy in the wheelchair beamed. He was really proud of himself, and for a good reason, too. He didn’t have to help that other Jew. After all, he had an obvious excuse. But he didn’t rely on his excuse. He wheeled over and reached up to help someone.

     I yelled at him, “Okay, that’s it. From now on, every Friday, you’re out on the street looking for Jews to help.” He laughed.

     A few minutes later, the rabbi in charge of the trip came up to me. I told him about the boy helping someone and how it was a good experience for him. It will probably be the highlight of his trip. I told the rabbi that he should include a trip each week to help Jews put on tefillin as part of their regular schedule, maybe in a hospital. He liked the idea.

     Okay, back to our same old question. Why am I telling you this story? So you will feel good? Sure, I want you to feel good, but that’s because I want something from you. I want you to go out and make yourself feel good by helping another Jew to do a mitzvah. And while you are at it, use you head to see if you can figure out how to spread your reach to even more people.


  1. Thank you for this inspiring post. It brought tears to my eyes. I have had my ups and downs with yiddishkeit and observance, but my tefillin has been the one mitzvah that I could never think of being slack on--it keeps me tied to the Torah and Hashem (pun intended). I understand why you place such an emphasis on this.

  2. As a Christian, I was not familiar with the observance of tefillin. After researching, I was deeply moved by this beautiful ritual. It not only speaks of our own adherence to the Lord, but by its very nature invites us to be present to eachother as a source of support. The ritual of assisting another with tefillin speaks of our invitation to be humble before the Lord and humble before eachother. Thank you for sharing this beautiful experience.

    Lauri Lumby
    Authentic Freedom Ministries

  3. Lauri, see Gutman Locks YouTube video, "Answers to a Pastor" to understand why your comparison of helping with tefillin does not fit with your beliefs.
    Be well,


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