The Yeshiva Gedola Lubavitch of London hosted one of England’s senior Chabad Shluchim to speak about the Tefillin Campaign launched by the Rebbe some 50 years ago.
Shliach and educator Rabbi Shmuel Lew shared his memories and personal stories from 50 years ago in the lead up to the Six Day War in 1967, and how the world reacted to it.
“I Just want you to be able to picture what it meant in those days to go over to someone and to tell him to put on Tefillin,” Rabbi Lew was heard saying during the Farbrengen. “It was like telling a person in the street to ‘go to mars’!”
He added, “and now thousands of Bochurim do so weekly, in streets, offices, stores and businesses, as a direct result of the Rebbe’s campaign.”
Every Friday afternoon during the time that the yeshiva gives them to prepare for Shabbos, the Bochurim in the London Yeshiva head out on “Mivtzoim” in sets of two throughout the city, getting over 100 Jews to lay Tefillin on a weekly basis.
Rabbi Lew then answered questions that the crowd had previously prepared, all about Mivtzoim that the bochurim go on a weekly basis. He then gave advice and tips on the best way to get the most Yidden to put on Tefillin, without causing annoyance.
”You might lose the sale, but don’t lose the customer!” Rabbi Lew exclaimed. You just have to work on your relationship by being polite and by speaking with respect, and it’ll eventually have an affect,” he explained.
”Sometimes, even though a man refuses to put on Tefillin, it may still have a profound impact on him, making it a lot more probable for him to perform a Mitzva the next time he’s asked. Some people need to be asked a number of times until it hits them, so you did accomplish something although it may of seemed not.’
“Around 30 years ago, a man who owned a computer company in Manhattan went out on a Friday afternoon to have lunch. On the way back to his office, the boys who were doing Mivtzoim stopped him and asked him to put on Tefillin. He politely declined, explaining that he hasn’t got the time. The boys pleaded with him, but to no avail. He returned to his office, and continued to work. 20 minutes pass, and he started to feel guilty about saying no. ‘I’m Jewish after all, and they wanted to do something Jewish with me!’ he thought. He tried pushing the thought out of his mind but he wasn’t able to, as it did not allow him to concentrate on his work.
“Finally he got up and went back to where the Mitzvah tank was, but it had already left. He started asking people in the streets where the ”Tefillin truck” was from, following leads until he ended up at 770 Eastern Parkway.
“This man became a full Baal Teshuvah, wearing a Kapota,” concluded Rabbi Lew. “I know him personally. Although,” he noted, “the boy that asked him to put on Tefillin, probably still doesn’t know the whole story. So if you ever think you’re failing, you never really know’,’ he said.
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