by Reb Gutman Locks
This nice elderly, American tourist was very insistent. “No! I do not want to put on tefillin! Leave me alone!” were a few of his adamant responses. But his parting words were, “It’s been a pleasure.” So what happened to change his mind?
Like any other trade you learn how to do it by doing it. You see what works and those are the things that you try. You never know what is going to reach them. Some general rules are; be positive, and make it easy for them to say, ‘Yes’. So, for instance, instead of asking, “Do you want to put on tefillin?” which gives them the very easy option to honestly just say, “No,” you say, “Come, put on tefillin.” Another general rule is, ‘you are not allowed to push (don’t get them upset, or it will be even harder the next time), but you are allowed to pull. The idea is, pushing upsets people, but gently pulling is friendly, even loving.
“It only takes a minute. You can do it all in English. It doesn’t cost money. Your grandfather used to put them on. Take your Jewish blood pressure. Come, you’ll have a good time, I promise.” You try whatever works.
Then, when he gives in a little, you gently take his arm and slowly begin to put them on him.
Once you have succeeded in getting through the arguments, and he has put them on, and reads the Shema, your job is not over, yet. You have to keep your promise and see to it that he has a good time.
His wife was taking pictures from behind the low wall that separates the tourists from the inner area of the Kotel, but she wasn’t tall enough to reach all the way over the fence. I ran over to get the camera so he would have some nice pictures.
I said to her, “Let me have the camera.” She yelled back, “NO!”
I said, “I want to take his picture for you.”
“Oh, okay” and she handed me the camera.
After the pictures, I faced him toward the Kotel and explained that doing a mitzvah opens a spiritual door, and for him to go through that door he should share that moment with his loved ones. “Picture them with light on their faces and smiling and ask G-d to bless them.”
This one always works the best. They see their loved ones and their hearts always open up. They usually like it so much that they stay with their eyes closed for some time.
When he walked away, he said “You ought sell cars.”
I smiled. “I am a salesman,” I admitted.
That’s when he said, “It’s been a pleasure.” And it was...for both of us. So what do you do when you hear those words? Do you stop and pat yourself on the back? No. You look around to see who’s next.