Monday, January 23, 2017

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Bar Mitzvahs

​   by Reb Gutman Locks  
     Bar Mitzvahs


     They were visiting from America. When they walked into the Kotel area Yussi tried to get them but the father refused. He motioned to me to try.

     "Hi, where are you from?"

     "New York."

     "What are you doing in Israel?"

      Pointing to the boy, "Yesterday was his Bar Mitzvah."

     "Oh, Mazal Tov. Did you put on tefillin today?"


     "Did you put on tefillin today?"

     "What's tefillin?"

      I was holding the tefillin in my hand. "Come I'll show you."

     "What are they?"

     "It's a Biblical commandment to the Jewish man. We are told to take G-d's words and bind them for a sign on our arms and for a reminder between our eyes. It means that we will do what G-d told us to do and we will think about what G-d told us to think about. We have been doing it for thousands of years."

    "We don't have time."

    "It'll only take a minute. Come, I'll show you. Are you right-handed?"

     I helped him to roll up his sleeve.

     I asked the boy how old he was. He said thirteen.

    "Is his mother Jewish?"

    "Of course she is."

    "Did you put on tefillin for your Bar Mitzvah?"

     He said that he didn't.

    "Come, you can do it too."

     After they read the Shema in English I told them, "Now for the most important part of the mitzvah. Whenever you do a mitzvah, whenever you fulfil a commandment, a special opportunity comes. It's as if G-d is listening with both ears. Close your eyes and picture everyone you love one at a time with light on their faces and smiling and ask G-d to bless them. Ask Him to guide you in your life… to protect the Jews in danger… don't forget to thank Him for all the good that He has given you. Take a couple of minutes and talk to G-d."

     When they finished praying I had the father put his right hand on the boy's head and repeat the blessing that the Kohen gives to the congregation and then to add his personal prayers for the boy. I told them that it was their double Bar Mitzvah as it was the first time they had ever put on tefillin.

     As you can see from their faces they had a great time. It turned what was going to be a tourist sightseeing trip to an ancient Wall, into a Jewish father and son spending a few minutes opening their hearts, speaking quietly to Hashem. It certainly was the most meaningful part of their trip to Israel.

     Thank G-d someone was there to help them.


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