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September 2, 2014 / 7 Elul, 5774
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Going Uptown


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I was walking down Coney Island Ave. when I saw an old acquaintance eating in a non-kosher restaurant. I wanted to approach him and ask him if he would be interested in putting on tefillin. But I felt hesitant, and wrestled internally to overcome my embarrassment. Finally I gathered enough confidence to enter the restaurant and approach my friend. Greeting him warmly, I gently asked if he would like to put on tefillin. He politely refused and, after a brief conversation, I was on my way.

A few minutes later, I received a phone call from someone asking for help with a computer problem. I intuitively felt that this phone call was somehow connected to what had just transpired. In truth I was not interested in taking this job, for the customer lived in uptown Manhattan, very far from Brooklyn. Yet I knew that this was from Hashem, and was directly connected to the incident in the restaurant.

I reluctantly agreed to travel uptown to fix this person’s computer, and spent the entire trip upset about the inconvenience. When I arrived, I noticed many mezuzahs on the doors in the apartment building, and when I arrived at my client’s door, I saw that he too had a mezuzah. It turned out that this individual was an Israeli.

After fixing his computer problem quickly and effortlessly, we chatted. I asked him if he would like to put on tefillin, and he unhesitatingly agreed.

I thought of the two incidents – so close to one another.

I felt like I had just lived through a living lesson. It is a merit to be given the opportunity to do a mitzvah. Sometimes, one has to make efforts to merit completing a holy task. So if you are encountering barriers to completing a mitzvah, don’t give up.

On the contrary, the difficulty should be an inspiration to make greater efforts. And those greater efforts will yield bountiful fruit.

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I was walking down Coney Island Ave. when I saw an old acquaintance eating in a non-kosher restaurant. I wanted to approach him and ask him if he would be interested in putting on tefillin. But I felt hesitant, and wrestled internally to overcome my embarrassment. Finally I gathered enough confidence to enter the restaurant and approach my friend. Greeting him warmly, I gently asked if he would like to put on tefillin. He politely refused and, after a brief conversation, I was on my way.

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