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A New Pair

Rabbi Yonasan Biggs, an emissary of the Lubavitcher Rebbe on Long Island, had a strange feeling. Something was just not quite right.

“Why don’t you send your tefillin and mezuzot to be checked?” suggested his wife.

“That’s a great idea. Waiting for the mezuzot should not be a problem, but which tefillin will I use while mine are being checked?”

“Why don’t you ask the sofer [scribe] to lend you a pair while yours are being checked?” she advised.

Rabbi Biggs gave his tefillin to the sofer the next morning and said, “Please have these checked as soon as possible.”

“Don’t worry,” said the sofer. “They’ll be ready for you before morning prayers tomorrow.”

Rabbi Biggs was happy to hear this and went on his way. The next day before morning prayers he went to the sofer to pick up his tefillin. He was disappointed when the sofer told him, “I’m so sorry, but I suddenly and unexpectedly had a lot of work to do and didn’t have a chance to check your tefillin. Here, take my tefillin. Use them today, and tomorrow you will have your tefilin back.”

Rabbi Biggs took the tefillin for morning prayers that day, and, as they had arranged, he showed up the next morning. To his great disappointment, the sofer said that the tefillin were still not ready.

“But today is Friday,” said Rabbi Biggs. “I need the tefillin for mivtzoim.” Mivtzoim is the practice of chassidim to go out to public streets and give passersby the opportunity to do a mitzvah, such as donning tefillin.

“You know what?” said the sofer. “I’ll give you a new pair of tefillin that I recently wrote, and you can use them for mivtzoim.”

With no other choice, Rabbi Biggs took the new pair of tefillin. That Sunday, the sofer called to say that his tefillin were ready, and he picked them up amid many apologies from the sofer. Both of them promptly forgot about the new tefillin that had been taken for mivtzoim; they remained in Rabbi Biggs’ possession.

From the sofer’s office, Rabbi Biggs went in to a Judaica store and bought a new kippah, as someone had pointed out to him that his old one was ripped.

After making his purchases, Rabbi Biggs set out for New Jersey, where he had made an appointment with an acquaintance. He arrived at his destination to find out that his acquaintance was not available, so he decided to do some shopping in the area.

The salesman in the first store he entered was Jewish. Rabbi Biggs asked him politely if he had put on tefillin that day.

“Oh, I put them on every day,” the salesman responded.

“And today?” asked Rabbi Biggs.

“Well, actually, I didn’t put them on yet, but I have tefillin at home and I will put them on later. It’s not comfortable for me to put them on here, you know. Hey, and would you happen to have a pair of tefillin for sale?”

Rabbi Biggs thought for a moment. How would he “happen” to be carrying around a set of tefillin for sale? Then it hit him. The tefillin that he had with him were the set that the sofer lent to him until his would be ready.

“As it happens, I do have a set of tefillin on me, but they are not mine. Let me ask the sofer if he’s willing to sell them.”

“Fine, let’s call him. What’s the number?”

Rabbi Biggs spoke to the sofer and asked him what price he wanted for the tefillin. The salesman immediately took out his checkbook and wrote out a check for the full amount. Then he said, “I didn’t lie to you. I have tefillin and I try to put them on every day, but I have a Jewish friend who doesn’t put on tefillin. I know that if he had tefillin, he would use them. I bought these tefillin for him.

“I have another question for you. Do you have a kippah to sell me?”

Rabbi Biggs realized why he had decided to buy a new kippah that day. He took the kippah off his head, replaced it with his old one, and gave the new one to the salesman.

Amazed by the open Divine providence he had just witnessed, Rabbi Biggs said goodbye. But that wasn’t the end of the story...

Several months later, Rabbi Biggs was in New Jersey with his wife, doing some shopping. They went into a carpet store, and as was his habit, Rabbi Biggs asked the Jewish store owner if he had put on tefillin.

“The truth is that there was a time that I did not put on tefillin regularly,” the man responded honestly. “Then a few months ago, a friend gave me a set of tefillin and a kippah as a gift. He bought them especially from me from a rabbi, an emissary of the Lubavitcher Rebbe. Since then, I put them on every day.”


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