Tuesday, June 28, 2011

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A Free Jew

by Reb Gutman Locks @ Mystical Paths

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       Smack! A young Jewish guy rushed up to me at the Kotel and gave me a friendly, but firm, smack on my arm. He was smiling a huge smile and pointing to his ear. Then I remembered who he was. A couple of days ago, I put tefillin on him and made fun of the three earrings he had in one of his ears.

     When I took his picture I asked, “When you get married, who’s going to wear the pants in the family?”

     He laughed and said, “I am!”

     “Then who’s going to wear the earrings?” I asked.

      “She will.”

      “But what about yours?” I asked loudly.

      When I do this, the boys almost always get a little embarrassed, (that’s when I take their picture) and they say something like he did, “Well… uh… then, we both will.”

      I laughed and said, “Uh–uh, it doesn’t work that way. Either you wear the pants and she wears the earrings, or she wears the pants and you wear the earrings. Which is it? Get on the right side of the bed, buddy!”

     By then they are usually laughing pretty hard, but still totally uncomfortable with the idea of giving up their “beautiful” earrings. After all, they think that they look really cool, and that girls like them more if they have earrings.

     I try to explain the real problem to them:

    “The Torah talks about a Jew who steals something. When he gets caught, the court makes him pay for what he stole. If he cannot pay, he is sold as a slave to another Jew. He has to work for that Jew for six years and then, in the seventh year, he goes free.”[i]

     “He goes free that is, unless he says that he wants to be a slave. If he says this, his master puts a hole in his ear and he becomes a slave forever.”[ii]

     “You’re a free Jewish guy.” I told him. “You’re not anyone’s slave. You put those holes in your ear because you thought it was cool or something. It may be an “in thing” in some parts of the teenage world, but according to the Torah, it’s a sign of a slave.”

     “You put them in your ear to make some kind of statement about yourself. If you want to stand out, let your kindness or your good deeds make you stand out, not a bunch of earrings in your ear. You’re not a slave. Throw them away.”

      As you see… sometimes it works.

[i] Exodus 21:5

[ii] This “forever” actually means until the Jubilee Year. Leviticus 25:13

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