By Rabbi Chaim Teleshevsky, Director of Chabad on Montana Avenue in S. Monica, CA
Last year, I offered to give Ben Allen a free pair of Tefillin. He politely declined my gift — at first.
It was at a Purim party hosted by Mr. and Mrs. Chaim Aaron and Sarah Levin who converted this annual event into a more personal celebration, the bris of their grandchild.
This, of course, attracted more people to the party, which by Divine Providence would result in more people hearing the Megillah, and celebrating purim in a whole new way.
One of the attendees wa Mr. Allen, an attorney with the law firm of Richardson & Patel LLP and Board Member of the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District (SMMUSD).
After he consented to my request to don Teffilin, he informed me of his decision to run for California State Senate to represent the 26th district.
Excited by the momentous occasion, and looking for ways to carry this feeling forward, I began to discuss the importance of taking a moment every day to connect and align ourselves with our inner-self.
The conversation continued as we discussed practical lessons from the scene where Mordechai and Esther, the Purim ‘Heroes’ walked the halls and estates of the leaders of the land, whilst personifying their Jewish identity.
Driven by the excitement, I handed Ben a brand new pair of Tefillin and asked him to make a commitment to don them every day. Moved by the sentimental gift, Ben said that in fact, he owned a pair of Tefillin that previously belonged to his grandfather.
Later that day, Ben brought the old pair of Tefillin for me to see. Upon first inspection, it was clear that they were not fit for every day use so he accepted my offer of new Tefillin.
As for the old pair, we agreed (to his mother’s delight) to create a special glass case with the intention of displaying the Teffilin in his future office in the California Senate…
Last Sunday we made it happen.
I traveled to the capital of Sacramento for Ben Allen’s swearing In ceremony as the new senator, and the next morning he met with the Jewish caucus of the California Senate (that makes up a minyan of senators) and Rabbi Mendel Cohen, Shliach in Sacramento, CA.
Following that ceremony, we headed to Ben’s office where a Mezuzah was affixed on his office doorpost (the only one in the Capitol at this point).
Witnessing the pride with which our Senator put up that Mezuzah was a moment one is not likely to forget, a tremendous sanctification of Hashem’s name.
“Your coming today was a ‘gevaldike’ thing” exclaimed Rabbi Cohen, after two hours of going to visit offices and dignitaries, on the way to a shiur.
May Hashem bless us all with the courage and strength to learn from Ben Allen, and be a light unto our surroundings, illuminating the darkness of exile with acts of goodness and kindness that will help transform the entire world with the coming of Moshiach now.