Tuesday, May 03, 2011


It Almost Always Happens

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by Reb Gutman Locks @ Mystical Paths

     Yesterday, I was trying to convince a surveyor from England to put on tefillin. He refused. Over and over again… he refused. Not only did he refuse, but he was strong in his refusal. Don’t get me wrong, he was a civil enough guy, but every time I tried something, his refusal became stronger.

    “I do not believe that there is an overall entity that rules everything,” was one of his reasons for refusing.

     “It doesn’t matter what you believe. You can still put on tefillin,” I answered.

     “I don’t need it,” he argued.

     “Maybe you don’t need it, but the people you would pray for--if you put on the tefillin--need it,” I tried to explain.

     “I don’t believe in prayer,” he quickly shot back. “I never put them on, and I see no use in it.” Stronger and stronger, his voice became more and more adamant.

     “But there are studies that show that sick people who are prayed for recover significantly quicker than those who are not prayed for,” I told him.

     “It doesn’t matter,” he answered.

      “Are you married? Do you have children?” I asked.

     “Yes, of course,” he answered quickly.

     “Is your wife Jewish?” I asked.

     “No, she is not.”

      Instinctively, I took a step back. I just reacted to what he had done by intermarrying and fathering non-Jewish children. “You have pulled yourself away from the Jewish people,” I told him.

      He quickly took a step forward. He was tough.

      “All that matters is that they are good people,” he said.

      “Why not have them be good people and be Jews, too?” I asked.

      “It makes no difference if they are Jews or not,” he said.

      “Of course it does. Jews are good for the world. Only one out of 510 people in the world is Jewish, but one out of four Noble Prize winners are Jewish! Jews are a valuable commodity,” I explained.

     “That doesn’t mean anything,” he tried to push the statistics away, as if they were meaningless.

     I said, “You’re an engineer. You’re supposed to be logical. But when it comes to seeing the amazing value of Jewish people, you refuse to see it.”

     I went on, “We see this all the time. When a Jew strongly refuses to put on tefillin, he almost always goes on to think that there is no reason not to intermarry. Now I understand your strong refusal. You don’t want to pull away from your non-Jewish family, and you think that if you do anything Jewish you will have to leave them behind.”

     “As long as the children are good, it doesn’t matter if they are Jews or not,” he insisted.

     “You have done to your family just what all of our enemies for the past 4,000 years have wanted.... ‘No more Jews!’”

     He shrugged his shoulders, turned his back to me, and walked away.

     What is there to learn from this sad, and all too common, story? Parents, do not let your children see you refusing to do something Jewish, or they will go on to refuse even more. Refusals lead to stronger refusals, and acceptance leads to more open acceptance.[i]

[i] The first time a man does a particular sin, he is bothered that he sinned. By the second time that he does that sin, it seems to him as if it is permitted -- Gemara Yoma 86b. A good deed leads to another good deed, and a sin leads to another sin -- Ethics of the Fathers 4:2


  1. Wow, how painful. I have had similar experiences, and for the most part, these people who marry out feel very self-righteous about it. Don't let it get you down. Keep up the good work.

  2. You should have told him that without there being a nation in the world that is dedicated to goodness for its own sake, the world will never be good because people choosing goodness for its own sake will always be in the minority. Also without a nation in the world dedicated to uncovering hidden sanctity, the world cannot be perfected. I do not know if it would have helped in this guy's case, but I would have told him anyway. Thirdly, since this guy apparently was an atheist, what was his standard for defining the "goodness" of his children? That would have been the most important question for him.

  3. but wasn't his being is Israel at the kosel indicating that he did associate ?

  4. He may have pushed himself away from the Jewish people, but this is not necessarily permanent. If his wife and kids convert, he will have re-connected himself to the Jewish people. And he will have helped fulfill what the Gemara says is the purpose of the exile -- to attract converts.


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