Thursday, March 09, 2017


A Monk Visits the Kotel

​   by Reb Gutman Locks


     I was walking to the Kotel when someone commented on my life stories.[i] I told him the only thing good that possibly came out of all that mess is that I am sometimes able to help people when others can't.

     A half an hour later I was standing by my tefillin cart when a group of Tibetan Buddhist monks came in. After spending some time standing by the Kotel their guide took them to the tefillin stand and explained a little about tefillin. Shmuli came over to me and said, "You see the tall one of them? He's a Jew."

     "How do you know?"

     "He's an Israeli. I spoke with him. I tried, but he refused to put on tefillin."

      I walked over to the group and saw that the Israeli spoke fluent Tibetan. I asked, "Who is the senior monk?"

      Immediately one of the monks put his hand on his chest and said, "I am."

     "I'll make a deal with you. I will tell you one of the biggest secrets of Buddhism, but only on the condition that you tell him (pointing to the Israeli) to put these on."

      The monk objected, "But he is a Buddhist."

     "No. Buddhism is his religion. He is a Jewish person no matter what his beliefs are."

     The monk reached out and picked up a tefillin rosh and handed it to me.

     I said, "But first I have to tell you the secret. What is the sound of one hand clapping?"

     This is one of the oldest and most befuddling koans the Buddhists treasure. Koans are riddles, most often they are supposed to be something you cannot answer but make you think about them over and over again.

     "I reached out and took his hands, "How many are these." I pulled them.

He looked at me without answering. I pulled his hands again. "How many am I pulling?"

     This time he answered, "Two."

    "No. How many is this?" I motioned to his hands and his arms."

     He said, "Two."

    "How many are these?" This time with both my hands I pointed to his hands, his arms, and his body.

     He said, "One,"

     I clapped my hands and said, "The two are one. All existence is one," and he got it. His eyes twinkled.

     I put the tefillin on the Israeli monk having him repeat the blessing and the Shema. The monks all left and he wanted to go so I took the tefillin off and gently patted him on his cheek and softly said, "Come home. We're waiting for you."

     Will it immediately change his life? I would be surprised, but you never know what good will come from doing a mitzvah. For some reason Hashem had him come to the tefillin stand when I was there to help him. Please G-d he will come home soon.


[i] Coming Back to Earth


  1. It might have been more productive to mention that he should by a pair of Tefillin to wrap in Tibet and put them on other Jews there.

  2. Kol Tov Reb Gutman.

    Maybe your previous experiences in the East were precisely for this moment?

    Shabbat Shalom and Purim Sameach!

  3. מאוד מרגש! בטוח הנחת תפילין הזאת פעלה עליו...מקבץ נדחי ישראל
    ישר כח!


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