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Today was a very difficult day. My fourteen year old boy lost his Tefillin on the subway. I was sitting in my office around lunch time, when I saw my phone “blowing up” with calls and texts. For a boy who is short on the spoken word, something was clearly up. I picked up the phone, only to hear a frantic, and crying boy, trying to express himself. In between gasps for air and excitement, I finally understood that there was an incident on the train, and all passengers were evacuated off the train, and in the commotion, he had left his Tefillin in the train.

He was beside himself at the loss of his Tefillin. He knew how much money we had spent to purchase it, and the year that it took to get the Sopher in Israel, to write these very special and Holy Tefillin. He simply could not calm himself. I assured him that I was not upset, and that this happens in life, and that I love and trust him no less now, than I did this morning. I told him also, that he did nothing wrong and we would do our best to locate the Tefillin, and if we couldn’t we would work to buy a new pair.

“Yirat Shamayim”- It’s a word that has no adequate English translation. Literally, it means the fear of heaven, but it really means so much more. If a person has it, you know it. If they don’t, it cannot be taught. Today I realized that my little fella has Yirat Shamayim in spades.

Children of divorce experience challenges differently than those who grow up in stable homes with two parents. Their loss is magnified. Their pain, more acute. And their senses so much more on alert. I didn’t even think of this, that when we met up this evening, he explained to me that the Tefillin are the only thing that he had in his life that were HIS, and he was determined to never part ways with it. He told me that he couldn’t control whether I or his mother would be together, or even the schedule that we determined for parenting time. But the one thing he had a say in, and he had complete control over, was his Tefillin. He simply could not placate himself to the knowledge that they were gone.

We will get over this. Hopefully, we will find the Tefillin, and if not, we will purchase a new one. But I learned such a powerful and important lesson today; a lesson about priorities, a lesson about perspective, but above all, a lesson about how my boy held the mitzvah of Tefillin so dear, to the point that the loss of it would make him cry. We may have lost a very expensive artifact today, but I gained something so much more valuable than any physical articles: more love and a new dimension of respect for my fourteen year old young man.

About Cantor Benny

Cantor Benny Rogosnitzky serves as Cantor of the prestigious Park East Synagogue on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. Cantor Benny has lectured widely on Cantorial music and its application to prayer. He has taught and guided many of today's well-known cantors. He is involved at the leadership level in many charitable organizations with a unique flair for organization and implementation of community projects. Cantor Benny is one of the founders of FrumDivorce, a community-support organization, dedicated to supporting members of the religious community, who are going through the divorce process, with a specific focus on parenting and guidance on how to deal with the emotional fallout of separation and divorce.

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