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Tying with Tefillin

An Israeli young man, who was living for the last year in the central Island, came to visit me last week.  As soon as he entered our home he burst out crying.

"I didn't see a Jewish face for months now, and while I have come here with a very clear goal in mind it's becoming increasingly difficult,"  He explained his extreme emotional expression.  "I miss the connection with my family and my people."

After a great conversation about his life in Israel and on the Island,  I offered my new friend to lay Tefillin.

"I would love to do it,"  he said.

When he completed his prayer with great concentration he turned to me, "This is exactly what I need to do!  Something that transcends time and space, to connect with Hashem and with the Jewish people. I don't feel lonely any more"

The next day I got an email from the young man asking me to confirm the essential prayers for every morning.  At the end of the email he wrote:

"Thank you for reconnecting me with the Tefillin. I didn't miss a day (expect Shabbat) since we met, and I'm now going to do it every morning.  I don't know how I managed (actually I didn't) without it..."

This encounter taught me a new depth in the Meaning of Tefillin.  When you lay Tefillin you don't only tie them to your arm but you tie yourself with the Almighty and with your people.  A connection that is always there, though needs constant tightening.

This is the power of every Mitzvah.  May we have the wisdom to take full advantage of it in the coming year.

Rosh Hashana Wish

Last week I called George, I knew that his elderly father, who lives in California, was terminally ill with cancer, so I wanted to find out how he was doing. George's surprising response left me in awe.

"My father is getting weaker all the time, and he understands very well his current health situation” George tells me, “ but there is only one thing on his mind these days - how will he be able to get to Shul on Rosh Hashana... He started a walking exercise and is trying to walk a bit further every day, with the hope that by Rosh Hashana he will be able to make it to Shul".

I have never met George's father, but his story moved me so much. Imagine, the greatest wish of a man during this last stage of his life is to be able to attend Services on Rosh Hashana!

Yet on second thought, it actually seemed to me the most natural thing to do. What could be better than gathering with your brothers and sisters to welcome a new year? Could there be something more powerful than taking time to set up goals and pray for the coming year? Is there anything more meaningful than celebrating the core of our identity? 

Especially in these challenging times, we should be there with one another to pray for our families, our community, Jews wherever they may be, and for all of mankind. If not on Rosh Hashana, then when?

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