by Reb Gutman Locks
This young, not yet religious, Israeli came up to me at the tefillin stand and asked, “I am going to put a note in the Kotel now. What am I supposed to say when I put it there?”
I said, “Putting on tefillin is a mitzvah. Hahsem gave us tefillin. Putting a note in the Kotel is just a nice custom. You should put on tefillin. That is more important.
He told me that he had just put on tefillin, and he read all of the prayers that you are supposed to say, and now he wanted to put a note in the Kotel, but he didn’t know what you are supposed to say when you do it.
I told him, “When you put the note in the Wall you should say, “Abba, ani ohev Otacha.” (Father, I love You.) He looked at me wondering if I was being sincere, or maybe just teasing him. When he realized that I was sincere, he smiled.
I walked over and watched him put the note in the Wall and say, “Father, I love You.”
How do you think saying those simple few words affected the boy? Up until then all of the prayers that he was told he had to say were either readings from the Torah, or Rabbinical blessings...all very strict, and very formal. When he spoke directly to G-d, and said, “Father, I love You,” his understanding of Hashem changed from being a distant, ruling King, to being a personal Father, a Father Who loves him. Thank G-d he walked away not only with his King, but with his Father, too.