Sunday, January 22, 2017

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​It’s Not Enough

   by Reb Gutman Locks   
     ​It's Not Enough

 

     An American Yeshiva student was helping out at the tefillin stand. He is a really loving guy and likes to help. When I walked up to him he was helping a Russian Oleh Chadash (new immigrant) to say the Shema. He would say a word in Hebrew and the Russian standing there with tefillin on very seriously repeated word for word. I yelled over to him, "Nu! In a language he understands!"

     The student motioned for me to wait but then as soon as he finished word for word all three paragraphs of the Shema, he smiled and started to take the tefillin off the Russian.

     "Wait a minute!"

     I jumped in and pulled the Russian away from the boy. At first he didn't want to come but then when I told him what he had to do he immediately agreed.

     "Don't take off the tefillin until you pray for your family and for the Jews in danger. Take a couple of minutes and talk to G-d."

     He liked the idea and walked off to the Kotel. He walked around, had a friend take a lot of pictures of him with the tefillin on in front of the Kotel, and most important of all he stopped from time to time, closed his eyes and talked to G-d in his heart.

     I told the yeshiva boy to look and see what was going on with the man. He was happy with the mitzvah. It brought him into a personal conversation with Hashem. He liked what he was doing. He did not care one way or the other for the tefillin and mechanically repeating all those words that he did not understand. It was meaningless to him. But now, talking to G-d with tefillin on is something very special for him.

     "You might as well have given him Chinese to repeat!"

     This is such an important point. So many times outreach helpers think that all you have to do is the physical mitzvah and then you will have fulfilled the requirements. I assume they think this way because that is all they do.

     But no, we want more than that. We want the Jew to have a spiritual moment, an intimacy with Hashem, a meaningful time. These are the things that will bring him back to do the mitzvah again, not repeating words that he does not understand. It's not enough to just get the mitzvah, we want to get the Jew, too.

 

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