Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The Straps that Bind

The midrash in Shir HaShirim teaches that even the simplest Jew is full of mitzvos like a pomegranate bursts with seeds.

Rav Shmuel Hominer zt”l once organized a group of respected Rabbonim and traveled with them to Eilat to encourage Torah observance. During their stay in the town, Rav Hominer attempted to get as many of the locals as he could to put on tefillin, knowing the power of a single mitzvah. Most men he approached were willing to humor him, but one turned out to be a tough customer.

“I already told you, Rabbi… It’s very kind of you to offer, but I happen to be an atheist!”

Chas v’shalom! You’re a Yid—you’re no atheist! Why not put them on for just a minute?” The man resisted, but Rav Hominer insisted, and after a long struggle he gave in.

With a broad smile, Rav Hominer said, “Now, repeat after me. Boruch…”

“Wait! I just told you I’m an atheist—I’m not going to say that!”

Chas v’shalom! You’re no atheist! Now, repeat after me…” The two men struggled for another few minutes, but the man was again won over by Rav Hominer’s good-natured persistence, and did as he was asked.

The next morning, this man went to the local grocery. He approached the register with a few items, and the storekeeper reached behind the counter and handed him his usual breakfast—a sandwich of treife meat. The man held up his hand and waved the parcel away with an obvious look of disgust.

“What’s the matter?” asked the grocer. “You eat this every day!”

“You expect me to eat that? I put on tefillin with a brochah yesterday—I can’t eat that today!”

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