'To insult wearing tefillin in Israel? Sad'

Lubavitch Spokesman refers to incident at Ben-Gurion Airport against Chabad Chasid who helped another Jew put on Tefillin.

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Benny Toker,

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A sad and embarrassing incident occurred this morning at Ben-Gurion Airport when a Lubavitcher Chasid asked a Jew to put on tefillin but was verbally assaulted by a woman who asked him to do so elsewhere.

Chabad Spokesman Rabbi Moni Ender is pained that such a thing could happen in Israel: "Unfortunately, a Chabad Chassid suggested that a Jew put on tefillin and an elderly woman with whom this apparently did not fit in with what she was used to started cursing and insulting. It's sad to discover that here in Israel there are people who feel this way about tefillin."

He says this is an unrepresentative minority, and most Israeli citizens support putting on tefillin. "99% think differently and we see it on the ground. Ben-Gurion Airport has a booth behind security inspection at the entrance to the duty-free compound. This is a popular stall where hundreds of thousands of people arrive to receive Jewish information to benefit them all over the world such as kosher places, Shabbat commencement and departure times, and more.

"There are also quite a few times Chabad Chasidim take advantage of free time that people spend waiting to ask if they want to put on tefillin."

Rabbi Ender stresses that Chabad Chassidim do their job at the command of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, and therefore humiliation from time to time does not deter them: "As a Chabad disciple, I went out to put on tefillin in weirder places, like for example on the hoods of cars - and we never felt a sense of unpleasantness; even under field conditions we continue the amazing tradition.

"Chabad Chasidim are exposed to criticism from time to time whether it's in Russia or in Israel, but we believe in what we're doing because the Rebbe asked us to do it out of concern for every Jew and we'll continue to put on tefillin in the hope that every Jew will feel personally connected to tefillin," he said.

"The Jewish heart refuses to believe that consensual placing tefillin with joy and excitement, performed by a Chabad Chassid for another Jew, would bring in response curses, humiliation, and especially mocking laughter," said Rabbi Aharonov, head of Chabad in Israel. "It's reminiscent of other periods in which Jewish motifs were ridiculed.

"I'm sure this act will only spur Chabad emissaries to add thousands of their welcome actions and awaken the hearts of Israel to their Father in Heaven," Rabbi Aharonov stressed.



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