Tel Aviv Lemonade Stand

Friday, 7 July, 2023 - 3:25 pm

When life gives you lemons, the optimal way to deal with it is to turn them into lemonade. Earlier this week, a video went viral in Israel of a woman (how do you say “Karen” in Hebrew?) harassing a young man in Tel Aviv who was laying Tefillin with a pair of teenagers. That young man is a close friend and colleague of my son Sholom. The woman was rude and disrespectful, not to mention disingenuous. The young man remained calm, smiling, and upbeat throughout the ordeal.

In the ensuing days, an avalanche of positivity spawned from this event. There have been lots of positive media coverage and social media posts about this. Even more importantly, many people have come forward to express their support by volunteering to lay tefillin.

Sholom told me that one of the people with whom he meets regularly to lay tefillin, decided that he was going to commit to putting them on every day and bought his own set. Furthermore, this week he asked Sholom for a small portable tefillin stand that he could set up in the doorway of his coffee shop as a way of combatting the negativity. This morning he sent Sholom a video of him laying Tefillin with another man, who had never worn tefillin in his life. It looks like the coffee shop is serving a special flavor of lemonade in Tel Aviv.

This groundswell of support and positive vibes for the effort to politely enable fellow Jews to engage in a Mitzvah on the go, is very encouraging.

There are echoes here of Bilaam’s intended harmful pronunciations against the Jews being transformed into a blessing. With one major caveat! The woman at the center of this controversy is as Jewish as all of us. She has a Jewish Neshama that is just waiting to burst forth. Perhaps this encounter will be a catalyst for her own spark to be ignited within.

May we speedily reach the time when every Jew comes home to experience the unique relationship they have with Hashem!

Shabbat Shalom
Rabbi Mendel Rivkin

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