Thursday, July 14, 2011

A Father Dons Tefillin

The Tanya teaches us the Jew possesses two souls, an "Animal soul" and a "Godly soul". Both are constantly at war with each other to prevail over the actions of the body. Those that know about this war usually have an easier time of it to provide the advantage to the Godly soul. Those who do not know about it more often side with the demands of the Animal soul. The trick is to get the Animal soul to go along with the Godly soul so it recognizes that it's for its own benefit.

Here's a story where the Godly soul wins out, from external pressure, but the next time the Godly soul will encounter less resistance to do its will.

(Told by Gutman Locks, at the Western Wall, who reaches us to Jews to inspire them to walk in God's ways.)

The Boy Did It

The man refused to put on tefillin. Israelis can be very tough, and once they say “No”, they do not want to appear weak by giving in and changing their minds. So, first I try to soften them up.

“Okay then, instead of putting on tefillin, give your son a blessing.”

This is my first move in such cases. They are almost always very attached to their children, and they usually agree to give them a blessing. I had him put his right hand on the boy’s head and read the blessing of the kohanim (priests). This is the traditional blessing fathers give their children on Friday night after coming home from the synagogue.

After the blessing, I told him to pray for what he wanted G-d to give the boy. The fathers always reach into their hearts for the best that they could possibly wish for their sons.

He did all this, but still, when I tried again to have him put on tefillin, he refused. Okay, so his refusal was a tiny bit softer than when I first asked, but his “No” still meant “No!” So I pulled out my biggest tool.

I turned to the little boy and said, “Tell your father to put on tefillin.”

The little boy picked up on it right away. He looked up at his father and said, “Aba, put on tefillin.”

The father looked down at his son and said, “Do you want me to put on tefillin?”

The boy said, “Yes.”

The father smiled, and we walked over to the tefillin stand and put on tefillin.

I told the boy, “This is your mitzvah. It is only because of you your father is putting on tefillin.” He beamed.

From the picture above, you see they had a good time with the tefillin. They always do. It’s just the animal inclination that we all have that refuses to do a mitzvah. Our holy inclination loves to do mitzvahs, but you have to get the animal one to agree.

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