Dvar Malchus

They Declare Open War Against G-D And His Torah

Moshiach & Geula

Everything’s Under Control

Shleimus HaAretz
The Rabin Legacy Everyone Tries To Forget
Our Secret Weapon
Mivtzaim Story
Quite The Gentleman
Sheva Mitzvos
"Here’s My Messiah"

Quite The Gentleman
By R. Gershowitz

5750. Yossi Ehrentrau looked different, somehow. As much as people tried to figure out what had changed, they remained unsuccessful. After all, it was the same Yossi – short of stature with smiling eyes, a red beard and shabby hat – yet there was no doubt about it, Yossi shone with a special light…

"I was born in Eretz Yisroel. Like every other Lubavitcher bachur who yearns to live in close proximity to the Rebbe, I traveled to 770 in order to learn there. That was in 5749. In addition to learning in yeshiva, every Friday we went on mivtzaim, to help Jews do the mitzva of t’fillin and to speak to them about Yiddishkeit. In addition, I would join Rabbi Levi Baumgarten (see Beis Moshiach #293) on his mivtzaim tank and travel with him to Manhattan on Wednesdays.

"We parked the tank in a different place each time, and then we stopped passersby and asked them the usual question: "Are you Jewish?" If they said Yes, we invited them into the tank to put on t’fillin. We did this for hours, putting on t’fillin with close to a hundred Jews – among them were those who were doing this mitzva for the very first time.

"Then we made the rounds of local stores and businesses, where we also asked who was Jewish. We put t’fillin on with them, spoke about kashrus, mezuza, and other topics the Rebbe has told us to discuss. For the most part, a good relationship would develop between the Lubavitcher bachurim and the Jews they encountered – but not always…

Yossi paused a moment. "There was an elegant office in a skyscraper in the heart of Manhattan. When I would ring the bell at the outside door, holding my t’fillin bag and my siddur, the Jewish owner would stick his head out of his office and tell the secretary, ‘No, don’t let him in! I know just why he’s here!’ and then the door would be slammed in my face."

"Weeks went by like this, and months, and I still hadn’t managed to put t’fillin on with him even one time."

* * *

It was late at night. Our friend Yossi went to sleep and suddenly, in his dream, the Rebbe was facing him. The Rebbe looked majestic, and looking at Yossi he said in Yiddish, "Wear a tie, and it will help you in spreading the wellsprings."

Yossi woke up. The fact that the Rebbe had appeared to him in a dream was exhilarating. Yet the message he had received about wearing a tie was certainly quite strange.

The next day Yossi got up earlier than usual, went to his Chassidus class, and told no one about his dream. During Shacharis it seemed to him that the Rebbe was looking at him in a meaningful way, but maybe he was just imagining it.

* * *

Holding his t’fillin bag, Yossi made his way through the many peddlers who displayed their wares on Fifth Avenue.

"Hey, want to buy something?"

He was an older man with a wrinkled face and sparse, gray hair, who was wearing an odd-looking cap. With sunken, pleading eyes he gazed at Yossi.

Yossi glanced at the merchandise and was unimpressed. He had very little money on him, as the bachurim don’t mix mivtzaim and shopping.

"No," Yossi said decisively, "I don’t need anything."

The peddler didn’t give up. "I have ties," he said.

"No! I don’t need anything, and anyway I don’t have money," insisted Yossi as he hurried towards the first building on his route. Behind him he heard somebody huffing and puffing. He turned around to find the old peddler behind him.

He was holding an open suitcase and yelling, "Stop! Bist a sheina Yid (you’re a nice Jewish person). Maybe you’ll buy a tie?"

Yossi stood thunderstruck as he remembered his dream in which the Rebbe told him to wear a tie to help him in hafatzas ha’maayanos. Could this peddler be the Rebbe’s emissary?

Yossi didn’t know much about ties. He looked them over and felt a bit dizzy. The colors, the patterns – dots, stripes, zigzags – what did a Chassidishe bachur have to do with ties? He began to feel uncertain about it all. He remembered that he had next to no money with him, and he opened his wallet to prove to the peddler that he was wasting his time because he lacked the funds to buy any of his merchandise. That’s when he noticed the two dollars in his wallet. Where had that come from? He had no idea.

In the meantime, the peddler had begun explaining the merits of each of his ties. Yossi noticed a simple, black tie with no design that reminded him of the Rebbe’s tie.

"How much is that one" he asked as he pointed, hoping it wasn’t more than two dollars.

"A terrific choice, a classic. You have good taste," rejoiced the peddler, as he turned the tie over to see the tag. "It costs – for you – only $150."

Yossi recoiled. "What?! Can a tie cost that much?" He was sorry he wouldn’t be able to do as the Rebbe had asked him.

"But look at the workmanship! See what a handsome tie it is! You’ll get a lot of use out of it – hey, where are you going?"

Yossi had walked on. What could he do? He wasn’t going to pay one hundred and fifty dollars for a piece of material which he didn’t even know how to properly tie around his neck.

Behind him again he heard some heavy breathing as the peddler caught up with him.

"Listen: how much money do you have? I can reduce the price to $120, but that’s just for you..."

"All I have is two dollars!" Yossi nearly screamed. "Will you sell it to me for two dollars?"

The peddler smiled and in a flash all his wrinkles seemed to have disappeared. He looked twenty years younger.

"Yes, why not? If that’s all you have, I’ll sell you the tie for two dollars."

Yossi paid the man and the peddler put the tie on him. The peddler pushed the knot of the new tie up to his collar and told Yossi to tuck his shirt in. The bachur looked quite the gentleman!

"Goodbye, and thanks a lot," said Yossi. Then he remembered. "Are you Jewish?"

"Of course! Why do you ask?" queried the peddler.

Within five minutes the peddler knew why. Yossi brought him to the tank, which was parked not too far off, and politely offered to show him how to put on t’fillin, but the peddler surprised him by saying, "I already put t’fillin on today. I do every day, except for Shabbos, of course."

The tank was decorated with pictures of the Chabad Rebbeim. The peddler looked at the pictures and stared at the one of the Rebbe Rashab. "Who is that?" he asked Yossi.

Yossi told him and then asked him, "Now that we have become friends, tell me the truth. Why did you chase after me to get me to buy a tie? Do you do that with all potential customers?"

The peddler looked serious as he answered, "Not necessarily. I thought I would keep the real reason a secret, but if you’re asking already, I’ll tell you."

He pointed at the picture of the Rebbe Rashab and said, "Last night I dreamt that a great Rabbi came to me. He looked a lot like the man in this picture. In the dream he said to me: ‘Always try to help Jews. When you see a good Jew who doesn’t have a tie, try to convince him to buy a tie from you.’ It’s amazing how the man in the dream looks just like this person in the picture."

Yossi was shocked. He said goodbye to his new friend and went on his way. He entered the many-storied office building, and pressed the button for the elevator. As he exited the elevator, the doors of the elevator across the way opened and there stood the man who always refused to put on t’fillin.

"Good morning," said Yossi as he continued on his way to the offices.

The man looked at him in surprise. "Is that you?"

Yossi felt uncomfortable. "What do you mean?" he asked.

"Isn’t that new, that tie you’re wearing?"

The bachur smiled sheepishly and said, "Yes, I bought it just ten minutes ago."

Instead of responding, the man asked him into his office. "Please, if it isn’t a problem, I would like you to come in and put t’fillin on with me."

After the man put on t’fillin and said Sh’ma with great concentration, Yossi handed him a card which featured the Krias Sh’ma and the brachos for t’fillin. On the top corner of the card was a picture of the Rebbe.

"This is for you," Yossi explained, "so that you’ll always know the brachos for t’fillin."

"That’s him! I don’t believe it!" the man exclaimed. He grabbed Yossi’s sleeve and burst into tears. It was hard to believe that this broken man was the same individual who had dealt so tersely with Yossi in the past.

"That’s the man who appeared to me in a dream..."

After he calmed down he said, "I was born to a religious family, but I left Torah and mitzvos behind. My father and grandfather were men who greatly respected religion and kept the mitzvos, but I was always rebellious and did what I pleased. I gave them a lot of aggravation, but at the time I was young and didn’t care.

"Lately I’ve been bothered by the fact that I left my heritage. Whenever you came to me I got very angry – it was like you were coming to remind me of my roots, and I was trying to forget about it. It was important to me to remain ‘enlightened,’ and not be like my father and grandfather from the old generation. Inside, though, I knew I had come to a crossroads and that I would have to change direction.

"My father and grandfather both died a few years ago. Lately they have been coming to me each night in my dreams. They demand that I change for the better. They both cry and ask me to have mercy on their souls. Last night they came accompanied by a third man, a tzaddik, who looked like an angel. Light radiated from his face and I bent my head before him. The tzaddik blessed me.

"Begin fulfilling the mitzva of t’fillin," he told me.

"I told him that the bachur who came to me regularly did not impress me at all. He dressed simply, even somewhat shabbily. How could I let somebody like that into my fancy office?

"Hearing this, the tzaddik smiled broadly and asked, ‘And if he comes wearing a tie, would you agree to put on t’fillin?’ Knowing this would never happen I said, ‘Yes, certainly! Happily!’ Then I woke up.

Yossi looked at his new tie. The man opposite him looked at it, too. They were both silent. Finally the man broke the silence and said, "Who is the tzaddik who appeared to me in the dream, whose picture appears on this card? Can I meet him?"

Yossi told him that every Sunday the Rebbe received thousands of people and gave them dollars as shlichus mitzva money. "Do you want to come with me to meet the Rebbe?" he asked.

The man thought for a while and then said, "Let me think about it. In the meantime, come next Wednesday to put t’fillin on with me again."

* * *

The long line weaved among the benches in 770. Yossi stood next to his new friend as both waited expectantly, hoping they wouldn’t become so rattled that they would be unable to say what they had planned.

Yossi’s friend told him a secret. He planned to buy himself a pair of t’fillin and to put them on every day. He wanted to tell this news to the Rebbe, the tzaddik who had appeared in his dream and who had asked him to put on t’fillin.

And then, there he was. The Rebbe stood there and the two friends, Yossi and his mekurav, stood in silent awe, unable to utter a word. The Rebbe gave the man two dollars and said, "This is to participate in your buying t’fillin."

As for Yossi, the Rebbe gave him a dollar and smiled broadly, as though sharing a secret.


"I can reduce the price to $120..."
"All I have is two dollars!" Yossi nearly screamed. "Will you sell me the tie for two dollars?"






It was hard to believe that this broken man was the same individual who had dealt so tersely with Yossi in the past.






"Who is the tzaddik who appeared to me in the dream, whose picture appears on this card? Can I meet him?"





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