Sunday, April 29, 2012

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“Can I Take Your Picture?”

at the Western Wall with Reb Gutman Locks on Mystical Paths

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     A non-Jewish travel writer from America asked me if he could take my picture at the Kotel (Western Wall). My standard answer is, “Okay, but if it breaks the camera you don’t get your money back!” They always laugh, and take the picture. This time, I took a picture of him taking my picture.

     It is times like this that you have to use your head. Here is a gentile whom, almost certainly, I will never see again in my entire life. How can I get the most out of our 5 minute meeting? What is my objective? What do I want? Well, obviously, I want to move him along on his spiritual journey. But here is an even greater opportunity. If I say the right thing, something that he finds really interesting, he will quote me, and then my brief talk with him could reach many thousands of his readers! That is great leverage. But how can I get a Travel Writer to write about the spiritual laws that the world is obligated to obey? This is not the type of thing that his readers buy his books for.

     Here is how I did it: “You know, wherever you travel, all over the world, each place will have some specialty… something that they are very good at. For instance, some places are really good at making wooden flutes. Others are renowned for their ethnic cooking. You should tell your readers to search out the things that they can best learn from each place that they are visiting.”

     I went on, “The specialty of this place, Jerusalem, is G-d. That’s what we know best.” I had his interest perked. He was a nice guy, and now that I said what I said, he was even more interested in listening to me.

     I asked, “Is G-d in the heart of the Devil?” He looked at me as if I was asking a foolish question. But then he answered, “I’m not a christian, so I don’t know about religion, but isn’t G-d everywhere?”

   “You are a smart man,” I said to him. He looked at me as if I was joking. “No, really. The vast majority of people in the world do not know this.” Just then, another non-Jewish man, this one from Greece, walked up to us wanting to hear our conversation.

     I asked the second man, “Is G-d in the heart of the Devil?”

     He too looked at me as if I was asking a trick question. He smiled a little, and then he shook his head, and said, “Of course not!”

     I looked back at the Travel Writer and said, “See? This is what almost all the world believes. And this is the specialty of Jerusalem…to teach that G-d is Infinite…everywhere at all times.”

     He beamed as if he had just discovered gold. I could see him thinking how he was going to write this conversion in his chapter on Jerusalem. He thanked me warmly, and told me that he was going to send me the pictures that he took. When he sent them he wrote, “Our discussion was undoubtedly one of the best experiences I had while in Israel.”

     I got a lot more than a few nice pictures from him. I got the attention of thousands of his readers all over the world.

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