Photo Credit: YouTube screenshot

Tuesday was the first anniversary of the death of Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, zt”l, the highly esteemed international lecturer and public intellectual. I have many personal memories of Rabbi Sacks, have often quoted his words of wisdom, and have heard numerous stories about him. But Rabbi Zalman Vishedsky shared with me a story that in my opinion is more important than all the rest.

Rabbi Sacks once said that he lectured hundreds of times a year, met thousands of people every month, and spoke constantly with people of every type throughout the world. Which question, do you suppose, was he asked most often?


You can try to guess: Was he asked about the Torah’s perspective on science? About Judaism in the modern era? About halacha and the new media? In response to this query about the question he was most frequently asked, he just smiled and revealed it as follows: “Rabbi Sacks, do you remember me?”

In my eyes, this little story is phenomenal. It would seem that our top priority is to gain more knowledge; we attend countless lectures and read a plethora of books in this effort. Yet ultimately all we truly need is that another human being will see us, recognize us, and remember us, that we will matter and be of importance to someone else.


The Power Of Tefillin

With his bar mitzvah approaching, our son Natanel practiced how to put on tefillin with great excitement a few days ago.  My father-in-law, Rabbi Eliav Meir, told us he helped his 95-year-old Jerusalem neighbor put on tefillin that very same morning since the neighbor can no longer do it by himself. From there my father-in-law came to us, to help his grandson who will soon be thirteen put on tefillin because my son cannot yet do this on his own either. And actually, my father-in-law said, the tefillin of an old man and the tefillin of a boy carry the same message:

When a Jew of any age or condition begins his day with tefillin, he takes the two most important forces in life and points them in the right direction. The arm symbolizes our activity in the world while the head symbolizes our thoughts and imagination. When we put tefillin on our head and on our arm each morning, we are reminding ourselves that we have the capacity to properly control our thoughts and our actions throughout the day.  

Written on the tefillin’s parchment scrolls are our basic values as a Jewish nation, values to which we desire to be connected. We are likely to encounter many temptations and distractions during the day, and we ask not to get confused, not to exchange the essential for the inessential. And we ask for this clarity and lucidity from the age of 13 until far beyond the age of 95, with Hashem’s help… Mazal tov.

(Translation by Yehoshua Siskin)


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Sivan Rahav-Meir is a popular Channel 12 News anchor, the host of a weekly radio show on Galei Tzahal, a columnist for Yediot Aharonot, and the author of “#Parasha.” Every day she shares short Torah thoughts to over 100,000 Israelis – both observant and not – via Facebook, Twitter, and WhatsApp. Translation by Yehoshua Siskin.