web analytics
September 18, 2014 / 23 Elul, 5774
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post
Apartment 758x530 Africa-Israel at the Israel Real Estate Exhibition in New York

Africa Israel Residences, part of the Africa Israel Investments Group led by international businessman Lev Leviev, will present 7 leading projects on the The Israel Real Estate Exhibition in New York on Sep 14-15, 2014.



The Art of the Scribe

There are thousands of unqualified soferim in both America and Israel who sell items that, far from being first-rate, are not even kosher.
f130630ns18

Photo Credit: Nati Shohat/Flash90

I am the proud father of nine children, six girls and three boys. Although our family has been graced with many bat mitzvahs, we have had only one bar mitzvah so far, and that was seven years ago. So you can imagine how excited we are to celebrate Yosef’s bar mitzvah, God willing, in January. We’re even more excited that it will take place in the Holy Land in Israel at the Western Wall. In honor of his bar mitzvah and following in the steps of his ancestors, he will shortly begin donning his tefillin every morning.

In 2008 I traveled to Washington, D.C. on the invitation of our late Senator, Frank Lautenberg, to attend Barack Obama’s presidential inauguration. When I arrived at Kennedy Airport from another city, I found a young medical student who was also attending the inauguration and asked to share a cab with me to La Guardia where we were to fly out from. We got to the gate with time to spare. It was morning and I still needed to put on tefillin but when I began to wrap them, the young man told me that he was also Jewish but had never seen the ritual I was performing. He wanted to know what it was.

I only had a moment to explain, so I said this. As a relationship counselor, often mediating between husbands and wives or parents and children, I’ve discovered that relationships sour when there is a disconnect between mind and heart. The mind, the human guidance system, uses values to discern right from wrong, informs one’s morality, and transmits the message to our emotions. The heart, the seat of those emotions, animates the body and motivates our actions. The two, mind and heart, are meant to be in constant communication. If they do no act in concert with each other, what follows is human dysfunction. Either, a functioning moral person without the motivation to get much done in life, or, an energetic person with no moral compass. The reason a Jew wears tefillin, I told him, is to achieve the integration of the two through a daily meditation via the tefillin shel rosh, which are put on the mind, and the tefillin shel yad, which are affixed near the heart.

Just as the tefillin marks its territory on our mind and heart, the mezuzah demarcates and and identifies a Jewish home. Professor Jonathan Webber, one of the world’s leading experts on the Auschwitz Concentration Camp site and a dear friend of mine from Oxford University, shows movingly in his book “Traces of Memory” the areas in Poland that once hosted bustling Jewish communities before World War II but are today yudenrein. But while the Jews were taken away to be murdered, their buildings remain behind with the mezuzah carvings reminding us of a once-flourishing culture that can never be fully eradicated, even by the Nazi monsters. I traveled with Jonathan to Galicia in Poland and personally saw the chasm left by the mezuzahs, signifying, in its emptiness, a land that was made bereft of Jews. More than any other identifying marker, the mezuzah is the very anchor of Jewish property.

The biggest setback in today’s market for tefillin and mezuzahs, however, is that many people care only to observe the spirit of the law while ignoring its letter. This is often because of a resistance to spending the requisite money for mitzvah or, more charitably, unintended ignorance as to what constitutes the mitzvah. People want their son to have tefillin at his bar mitzvah, for instance, but aren’t interested in buying the best quality pair for him, so they often purchase sub-standard tefillin that are barely kosher. So, too, thousands of people visit Israel every year and purchase ornately decorated mezuzah cases, but only meager amounts on the holy scroll that is inserted inside. This is a classic case of judging a book by its cover, and in the worst possible way. The ornate cover means absolutely nothing while the scroll inside is the very soul of the mitzvah. And we know a body without a soul looks like.

Since my days as a rabbinical student, I’ve checked hundreds of mezuzahs for friends and strangers. Sometimes the scroll inside is a mere photocopy. At other times it is missing completely. A gentlemen I once met in Australia even told me that he threw away the “Hebrew instructions” after he bought the mezuzah (OK, that’s a joke, but with a kernel of truth).

About the Author: Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, “America’s Rabbi” whom the Washington Post calls “the most famous Rabbi in America,” is the international best-selling author of 29 books, including The Fed-up Man of Faith: Challenging God in the Face of Tragedy and Suffering. Follow him on Twitter @RabbiShmuley.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

One Response to “The Art of the Scribe”

  1. Basha Kline says:

    We have been blessed with so many articles to prove our past and reasoning for our existence, most of which we take for granted but it will take a non-Jew to remind us who we are!

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
The beheading of British aid worker David Haines, Sept. 14, 2014. The terrorist standing beside him threatened that his fellow British aid volunteer, Alan Henning, would be next if UK Prime Minister David Cameron doesn't relinquish his support for the fight against ISIS.
British Muslims Plead for ISIS to Free Captive Alan Henning
Latest Indepth Stories
ISIS-strat-3

Arab leaders who want the US to stop Islamic State are afraid of being dubbed traitors and US agents

The Iron Dome was called on for the first time in 2013 to intercept a missile fired by terrorists in Sinai at Eilat.

National Lawyers Guild:Sworn enemy of Israel & the legal arm of Palestinian terrorism since the ’70s

A little less than 10 percent of eligible Democratic voters came out on primary day, which translates into Mr. Cuomo having received the support of 6.2 percent of registered Democrats.

The reality, though, is that the Israeli “war crimes” scenario will likely be played out among highly partisan UN agencies, NGOs, and perhaps even the International Criminal Court.

Peace or the lack of it between Israel and the Palestinians matters not one whit when it comes to the long-term agenda of ISIS and other Islamists, nor does it affect any of the long-running inter-Arab conflicts and wars.

Rather than serving as a deterrent against terrorist attacks, Israel’s military strength and capabilities are instead looked at as an unfair advantage in the asymmetrical war in which it finds itself.

Sisi:”The religious nature of the Middle East creates challenges for the governing authorities.”

For too long the media and international community have been preaching that “Palestinians” bear no responsibility for the consequences of their decisions and they are passive victims of the conflict.

Iron Dome intercepted over 1,000 rockets aimed at Israel with a success rate of over 90% in 2014

We talked about the responsibility that comes with the pen, its potential to influence and inspire.

Amnesty International:The crippling of the power station was “collective punishment of Palestinians”

Originally scheduled to be held elsewhere, the hotel canceled, pressured by local missionary groups

It’s likely that some of the rebel factions, including US clients, have indeed made pacts with ISIS

More Articles from Rabbi Shmuley Boteach
Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) and Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu meet in the Kremlin, Nov. 20, 2013.

On the one hand, Putin has been a friend to Chabad and to Israel. On the other hand, Putin is a brutal dictator.

The gradual trickle of self-hatred into the Jewish soul is evidencing itself in the American Jewish public.

Rabbi Schochet wrote the Johannesburg Beis Din: It is totally prohibited and unacceptable to hear someone like Boteach.

If you’re feeling down, stop reading right now. You’re only going to be more depressed.

The world and the United State continue to give Rouhani a pass.

American Jews – especially those working on campus – don’t accept that we have a battle on our hands.

But the most painful part of an otherwise illuminating and extraordinary Forum was Iranian President Rouhani’s speech.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/columns/america-rabbi-shmuley-boteach/the-art-of-the-scribe/2013/10/22/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: