at the Western Wall with Reb Gutman Locks on Mystical Paths
James is from London, He has a very thick British accent. I could not understand him when he told me that his name is James, so he said, “Jacob, in Hebrew.”
Someone brought him over to me saying, “He says that his grandmother was Jewish.”
He was holding a large, brand new chr-istian bible. I asked. “Was your grandmother really Jewish?”
He said that she was, so I asked, “Well, was it your father’s mother, or your mother’s mother?”
He said that it was his mother’s mother. I asked if he was sure. He said that she was Jewish, but no one else in the family was Jewish.
I said, “Since your mother’s mother was Jewish, your mother is Jewish, and since your mother is Jewish you are Jewish, and since you are Jewish I am going to take your Jewish blood pressure.” I rolled up his sleeve started to put tefillin on him.
He objected, “Are you going to do this to me even though I am only one-quarter of a Jew?”
I explained that there are no fractions of Jews. I assured him that he was an entire Jew, and I put tefillin on him. He tried to repeat the blessing, but he horribly mispronounced every word.
He read the Shema in English, and I showed how to pray for his family. Then, I explained in detail why the ch-ristain religion was not for him. He seemed to have understood.
I said, “Throw away that chr-istian bible and get a Jewish one. You are a Jew. When you go back to London go to a Chabad House and tell the rabbi that you just found out that you are Jewish, and ask him what you are supposed to do. You will meet a nice Jewish lady to marry, and you can make a Jewish family. Today is a big day in your life.”
He was very happy. But then, when I took off the tefillin, he started to cry. I asked him why he was crying. He said, “I feel so strange, so different now.”
These tears come when a significant spiritual realization, or revelation occurs. It is a startling experience for someone who studied the bible, and thought that he was not Jewish, to find out that indeed he is a Jew. The feeling rises up, floods the intellect, and the person breaks down crying. His mind did not know how to handle the overwhelming new reality.
James the chr-istian walked into the Kotel, and Jacob the Jew walked out!