by Gutman Locks
Dovid, the Russian Chabadnik at the Kotel tefillin stand tried to get this tourist to put on tefillin, but he refused. The tourist is Russian, but has been living in New York for the past 22 years. Dovid asked me to try.
I gently grabbed the tourist’s arm, and pulled him saying, “Come we’ll take your Jewish blood pressure…it doesn’t cost money.”
He laughed, and I was able to get him to cooperate.
After he read the prayers, I explained that a mitzvah opens the upper gate, and that he should talk to G-d. He did it for quite a while and was very happy. When he turned back toward me he was smiling, even radiant.
He said “I don’t believe in this… but I have to admit it feels very good.”
I asked him, “What does Infinite mean?”
He answered, “Never-ending”
I asked, “Where is the Infinite?”
He said, “Everywhere”
I said, “You believe in G-d…, but you just call Him “Infinite” instead of G-d.”
He said, “You just changed the definition.”
I answered, “No I haven’t. G-d has always been Infinite.”
Later he asked me if that counted as his Bar Mitzvah.
I explained that Bar Mitzvah means, “Son of the commandments,” and it really means that a Jewish boy has come to the age where he is mature enough to fulfill the commandments, and from that age on he is able, and obligated to follow the Torah.
I told him, “You were bar mitzvah’ed when you turned 13 years old, but you just never had the celebration.”
He said that he had never put on tefillin before.
I took the picture, and said, “Now, you’ve had your tefillin bar mitzvah, too, and you can do it again, every day if you want, even in New York.”
I cautioned him, “But don’t expect it to feel as strong in New York as it does here. Even though G-d is everywhere, He shows Himself more here than in New York.”
One more ex-atheist.