Tefillin In Manhattan

Rabbi Kantor shares his experience.

…..This is what brought me to the streets of Manhattan. There, on the mundane streets of the New York an inspiring story unfolded for me. I share it here with you, as it shows the detailed Divine Providence of Hashem down here on earth. It gives us a chance to see the presence of G-d in the smallest details of our lives.

It was a nice brisk day. Perfect for walking in the streets of Manhattan. When my dear friend and supporter, whose office was on 39th Street and 6th Ave, told me that I was welcome to visit him if I came in the next thirty minutes, I started to walk energetically. I needed to get to his office from my previous meeting on 60th Street and Madison.

I checked my Google maps. It informed me that it would be a 26-minute walk. This meant I needed to walk as quickly as possible, at a brisk pace.

Reaching one street corner, I walked quickly across the street and made it to the other side just before the light turned green. A young man who was walking next to me, exclaimed, “Great, we made the light!”

I continued walking, he continued walking. I was in a rush. He seemed to be in a rush also. After a few more blocks of both of us keeping approximately the same pace, he commented, “You have a good pace”. I responded, “Thanks”.

A few blocks later he turned towards me again and said, “With all of its problems, New York is still a great city”! I agreed with him and told him I had been born in New York. He told me that his grandparents came from Russia.

At this point, I asked him, “Are you Jewish?” He said his mother was. I told him that means that he, too, is Jewish.

We got to 39th St. and 5th Ave. I turned down 39th Street. My walking mate said, “I also need to turn here”. Walking down 39th Street, I asked him, “Did you have a Bar Mitzvah?”

“No,” he said.

I knew that my friends and supporters, whom I was going to visit on 39th Street would be very happy if I brought my new friend up to put on Tefillin in their office.

I invited Denis to come up with me to the office. Alan and Steve were overjoyed to hear why I had someone else accompanying me. They exuberantly congratulated Denis as he put on Tefillin for the very first time in his life and said the Shema prayer!

We said a ‘L’chayim’ and thus celebrated the Jewish initiation of a soul that had been thirsting (albeit without consciously knowing it) to reunite with his Jewish roots through the performance of Mitzvot!

It doesn’t happen often that people initiate conversations with me in the streets of New York.

Denis told me that he was motivated to speak to me for two reasons. First of all, he was impressed with my walking pace. Secondly, he is supervising a construction project at Sloan Kettering Hospital. He said that the people being treated there who look like me are always very nice to him. They greet him warmly and he has a good feeling around them…. May Hashem send healing to all who need it speedily.

Thank you, Rabbi Kantor for permission to share this story. Continued hatzlacha raba in your Shlichut together with your dear wife Nechama in good health and with much Mazal!

Kinus Hashluchim Cheshvan 5782.

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