Sunday, November 10, 2019


I Don’t Know Why

   by Reb Gutman Locks   


      Yossi at the tefillin stand asked me to try to bring over an older American and his son to put on tefillin. They were refusing everyone who asked. I went over and they refused me too. He's 83 years old and didn't remember when (or if) he had ever put on tefillin.     

      The son said, "We have to hurry. We don't have time!"

     "Don't worry the pizza won't get cold."

     "We only have one minute here."

     "Come, use the one minute for this. You'll have a good time, I promise."

      The son walked away not wanting anything to do with it.    

      I used my usual lines with the father, the ones that I have seen work the best over the years and I was able to pull him in but his son ran away. I wrapped the tefillin on the father and then his son walked back over to us. I had the father bless his son and somehow, I was able to bring the son in, too. Maybe, since his father did it, he felt that he could do it to.

     After saying the Shema I explained how doing the mitzvah opens the spiritual door above. I had them stand by the Kotel and pray for their loved ones, and for the things they want to happen in the world.

     A few minutes later the father came back and I said, "You should see your face now. You look totally different than you did when you first came in. Really… I wouldn't lie to you."

     It is amazing how their faces change when they talk to Hashem in their hearts. For most of them; in their entire lives they have only talked to Hashem when they were really hurting!

     I told him, "Your son who didn't have any time and had to leave in one minute is still standing by the Kotel talking to Hashem."

     The son came back and we took pictures … they had a really great time.

     Then Shmuli pointed over to another father and son who were friends with the ones we helped and he motioned that they refused put on tefillin. I went over and said, "Put your right hand on you son's head and give him a blessing."

     He didn't want to.

    "Nu! Give the boy a blessing."

     He reluctantly put his hand on his head and repeated the blessing.

    "Now come put on tefillin." He refused.

    "Come it doesn't cost money!" He refused.

     Whatever I tried …. "No!"

    "Look what a good time your friends had."

    "No!" and they walked away, almost angry with me for being insistent.

     Why? Why would a Jewish man bring his family all the way to Jerusalem from across the ocean, and while standing by the Kotel absolutely refuse to do a simple, painless mitzvah? I really do not understand why they refuse.

     Maybe they feel if they put on tefillin they will have to become religious and give up their own way of doing things… or maybe they think that they will be saying that they have been wrong all of their lives…. 


  1. Think the answer is that they are really afraid; once they see the beauty of putting on tefilin and how it feels afterwards, they feel they will have no choice but to continue with and commit themselves to a whole new way of thinking and lifestyle. One mitzvah leads to another.

  2. I know one reason why they refuse - they might be apprehensive that they will be pushed to give a donation! My father z"l was very frustrated when visiting the Kotel. It is supposed to be a special place. Instead, every single time, the panhandling hawks(!) see us foreigners with khaki pants a mile away and pester for donations. The last time I was with my father, someone came to us to raise money for a yeshiva. I game him some coins, he looked at me and said literally "how will this help me?" and he held out his hand so I could take them back. I lied to my father about what he said so he would not have more disappointment for Haredi panhandlers at the Kotel.
    So even if you said it was free, I could see how some people still think there is a catch at the end when they are already tied in.


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