by Reb Gutman Locks @ Mystical Paths
Someone at the Tefillin stand asked me to try to talk an American tourist into putting on tefillin. He told me that his name was Aaron, and that he is 84 years old and hasn’t put on tefillin since a year after his bar mitzvah. Aaron walked very slowly with some difficulty. When someone asks for help like this it always means that they tried and that the visitor wouldn’t listen. Once someone refuses, it usually makes it even more difficult for the next guy to get him, because they usually dig in, and do not want to change.
I waited until he was on his way out of the Kotel area before I approached him.
“Aaron, come put on tefillin. You’ll have a good time. You can do it all in English. Come I’ll help you.” I told him.
“No. No. I have to go. My wife is waiting for me.”
“Your wife wants you to put on tefillin.” I told him. “Come, it will take only one minute.”
“No! My wife is waiting.” He said, as he slowly walked by.
“I’ll go ask her.” I told him. I saw his wife standing about 25 yards away waiting for him. It was cold out and she did not have a coat. As I walked toward her I yelled out, “Aaron is going to put on tefillin, and then he will be right with you.”
“No! No! She yelled. We have to leave. I’m cold.”
There was nothing I could do. If she was cold, he had to go. But as he got close to where she was standing his legs gave way and he had to sit down. He couldn’t walk. We asked one of the managers if they could bring a taxi in so he could make it back to the Hotel. There was no way that he could walk all the way to the taxi stand.
He agreed and walked toward the entrance to bring one in. There are almost always cabs standing there, and if not, they come by every minute. But for some reason the manager couldn’t find a cab.
“Where the heck’s the cab, already?” everyone wanted to know.
“Hey, I know why the cab’s not coming.” I ran back to the tefillin stand and grabbed a pair of tefillin. “While you are sitting here, you might as well put on tefillin.” I rolled his sleeve up and put the tefillin on him. His wife smiled broadly. She really liked it. After he read the shema I told him to pray for his family.
He said, “There is no family. “No parents. No children. Just us.” And he pointed to his wife.
I said, “Okay, then we will be your children. Pray for all of the Jewish people.”
He sat there with a big smile on his face praying for his new found family. Both he and his wife enjoyed the idea very much. Finally, the cab slowly drove up, and I took off the tefillin.
You know, sometimes it’s really good when the taxi is late.