One good deed leads to another. There was an IDF (Israel Defense Force) ceremony at the Kotel Plaza. Before the ceremony started an officer came into the prayer area carrying his small daughter close to his chest with one arm and holding the hand of his young son with his other hand. An older man walked with them.
"Did you put on tefillin today?"
The officer nodded that he had already put them on. The older man ignored me. I asked him, "Did you put on tefillin today?"
He gave me a negative look as if telling me to leave him alone.
"Is this your son?" I pointed to the officer.
He nodded that he was.
"Give him a bracha (blessing). Put your right hand on his head."
I handed him a card that I keep in my pocket with the wording. He gave his son the blessing with complete sincerity. I wish I had my camera out to show you what I saw. The father held his eyes fast onto the words on the card while he read them out loud. The officer looked at his father's face with sincere respect. The two small children stared with wonder, "What was Grandpa doing to Daddy?"
The father read the blessing saying each word as if the words themselves were the blessing. When he finished he looked up from the card at his son. He was obviously very proud of him. You could see the love and prayers he was feeling for him. His son looked into his father's eyes with the small kids watching in wonder. That was the picture I wish I had for you to see.
"Now add to that what you want Hashem to give him."
"Hashem protect you and give you and your family peace, health, and a livelihood all the days of your lives…."
"Okay, now you can come put on tefillin."
He was still reluctant but his reluctance seemed to have more to do with not wanting to give in than it did with the mitzvah of tefillin so I just pulled on his sweater and brought him over to the cart. He read the Shema quickly and started to take the tefillin off.
"No, not yet. The mitzvah opened the door to Heaven. Talk to Hashem. Ask Him to protect our soldiers and the Jews in danger…pray for your family…and say thank you."
He looked me in the eye as if he didn't know what to do. Should he listen to me or should he be his normal tough self? He closed his eyes and put his hand over them. He stayed like that intently talking inside his heart to Hashem.
I continued putting tefillin on other guys and more or less forgot about him.
After some five minutes, while I was putting tefillin on someone, I felt a hand go into my coat pocket. It was him putting some tzedaka (charity) in my pocket which I later gave to the tefillin stand. It was his way of saying thank you.
I insisted over his normal tough guy refusal and his inner heart opened for a long time and he appreciated it.
It is good when they say thank you, but just helping a Jew to open his heart is really thanks enough.