Monday, September 26, 2011

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The Student Outdid the Teacher

by Reb Gutman Locks @ Mystical Paths

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     Yitzy is an American yeshiva student who is learning here in Jerusalem for the year. One day, a few months ago, he was watching us put tefillin on visitors at the Kotel. With a “little” bit of encouragement, he got into the habit of helping out whenever he comes to daven mincha (afternoon prayers).

     Yitzy wasn’t a natural at this at first. He was very shy, and he invented any excuse he could to just stand behind me and tell me who I should go ask to put on tefillin. He has a natural love for his fellow Jew, but he was embarrassed to actually go ask anyone to come put on tefillin. With a little training--and a lot of shoving--he finally overcame his shyness, and now he is excited to help.

     Yesterday, a man walked by and Yitzy asked me if he was Jewish. After a while you can usually tell if a guy is Jewish or not by the way he looks or acts. This is surely not a certain thing, and it is getting harder and harder now that so many tourists from all over the world are coming to Jerusalem. For instance, most Italians look Jewish, and then there are many new immigrants from Russia who look like Russians, but their mothers are Jews. (So they are Jews). For some reason I wasn’t sure if the guy walking by was Jewish, and I didn’t ask.

     Well, Yitzy would have none of that! He jumped in and asked the guy where he was from. He said, “Israel,” with a Hebrew accent. Not everyone from Israel today is Jewish. Yitzy asked him to come put on tefillin. He refused and kept walking away.

     With a loving tug, Yitzy pulled his arm a little and said, “It’s a good thing to do right now… before Rosh Hashanah.” The guy resisted, and Yitzy tugged a little more, and the guy gave up and let Yitzy help him.

     Now how do you think I felt? After all, this young guy I brought in to help, out did me! I’ll tell you how I felt. I felt wonderful. It made my day. I felt a hundred times better than I would have felt if I had helped that guy myself.

    When you help someone to do a mitzvah, it’s a wonderful thing. When you help someone to help others to do mitzvahs, it’s a zillion times better.

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