Lubavitcher Helps Former Vizhnitzer Don Tefillin For 1st Time In 60 Years And Saw A Shocking Sight

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Menachem Segel, a Lubavitcher chassid from Lod, was in Ramat Gan on Tuesday at a retail store, one of his work clients. He was busy working on the store’s computer when an elderly man approached him and said hello in Yiddish, the Hebrew news site COL reported.

Segel was busy so after returning the man’s greeting he tried to return to his work but the man obviously needed to talk and he told Segel his life story.

The man was born to Holocaust survivors in a refugee camp in Germany in 1946 to the well-known Vitznitzer Tessler family. When he was 13, his parents sat down with him and explained what happened to them and their families during the Holocaust. (At that time, before formal Holocaust education and the numerous stories and biographies we have today as well as museums, most people were completely unaware of the extent of the horrors perpetrated by the Nazis, especially a sheltered Chassidish child.)

Tessler was utterly horrified and to his parents’ dismay, he decided to cut off his payos and stop being religious. He later joined the IDF and became a career soldier, fighting in all of Israel’s wars and eventually retiring with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.

Tessler concluded by telling Segel that recently he’s been returning to Yiddishkeit and he began to daven at home but without tefillin. “My tefillin are in my heart,” he said. “I’ll never put on tefillin.”

Segel responded that he must put on tefillin but Tessler refused. Segel wouldn’t give up and eventually, the man agreed to put on tefillin shel yad. Segel ran to his car and when he returned with the tefillin, he noticed that the store owner was looking on with shock. Segel told him that if it bothers him, he’ll help Tessler wrap tefillin outside the store. But Tessler said: “Mah pitom! We’ll do it here in middle of the store so everyone can see.”

When Segel rolled up Tessler’s sleeve, he was shocked to find a tattoo of a star with Jude written inside it, like the stars Jews were forced to sew on their clothing during their Holocaust as well as what appeared to be a concentration camp number.

(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)



23 COMMENTS

  1. Due to the trauma of hearing his parents story he went off the path and became a fighter and decided to have this tattoo. Not any tattoo but one that depicts in his own way the horrors and his fight back.

  2. Can someone please explain this story, I’m really not understanding the tattoo. It’s very clean and perfect and doesn’t appear to be of Nazi Germany.

  3. 1946 He was born in to holocaust survivors in Germany
    1959 he turned 13 in Israel and his parents told him about the atrocities of the Shoah. He was in shock and went office the derech because of it.
    Circa 1964 around 18 presumably he enrolled in the IDF and became a warrior.
    2020 at the approximate age of 74 he comes to the store and puts in tefillin.
    He made the tattoo sometime along the way.

  4. This person is too young to have been in a camp for over 70 years ago!! His tatoo looks fake too.
    The Germans had a “standard” tatoo on the lower part of the arm.
    This is a fake story.

  5. wow, reading comprehension people.
    This fellow is a child of survivors, who took the story of the holocaust very hard and the trauma led him off the derech to fight for the people he felt for. In that spirit he etched such a tattoo on his arm, it defined his life and choices, albeit wrongly so. And now he is awakening to the error of his ways ant wants to do teshuva.
    Very powerful. Hatzlacha

  6. So Chash the tattoo means nothing. It’s not even a worthy detail. So why did YWN make such a big deal of it with the whole shocking revelation as if he’s a holocaust survivor. Fake news

  7. I don’t understand how anyone could be confused by this story. It’s very clear: “The man was born to Holocaust survivors in a refugee camp in Germany in 1946”. How can any of these confused people have missed that, unless they never bothered reading the story before commenting?

  8. Its really scary how people can leave just uneducated remarks which don’t fall in line with the story at all. Yesodyosef613, the Star was patcher onto their ‘pajamas’. Anon21, it says he was the child of one. And also it does mean something because it’s showing how he didn’t want to forget where he came from which led him back

  9. The saddest part of the story is that he is still not yotzi the mitzva of tefillin because his head tefilla is to low. It is a shame that after 55 years of not performing this important mitzva that he just couldn’t get it right.

  10. Anon21, you really don’t get it! You are stumped as you wonder “the tattoo means nothing. It’s not even a worthy detail. So why did YWN make such a big deal of it”.

    Don’t you realize that the tattoo is on his teffillin arm, on the bicep. He davka made a tattoo there in defiance of putting on teffillin! And now he begins his path back by putting on the teffillin on the arm with the tattoo. This is so obvious and a very big deal!

    Do you now finally “get it”?

  11. Lebo – “he is still not yotzi the mitzva of tefillin because his head tefilla is to low”

    1. You are making a presumption based on the picture that AT NO TIME before or after the picture was the teffillin in a place that you consider necessary to be me kayama the mitzvah.

    Based on such a presumption, when we see a picture of a rosh yeshiva or godol, and there are plenty such pics, wearing their shel rosh in such a manner (because it slipped), would you also conclude that they didn’t do the mitzvah correctly?

    2. Did you ask a posek (or even a person familiar with this basic halacha) after showing THIS particular pic, if indeed this improper position is so improper that the mitzvah is possul?

    3. Do you relish knocking and criticizing others? It may come from a massive inferiority complex and lack of achievement that makes you so miserable that you must howl at the moon. Do not despair, help is available.

  12. “recently he’s been returning to Yiddishkeit and he began to daven at home but without tefillin” – he was davening, communicating with Hashem, but he couldn’t bring himself to pUT on teffillin , why? Because the teffillin need to go on his arm which he knew had been “defiled” with this tattoo. It took great courage for him to overcome the dececrated tzelem elokim and elevate it by donning teffillin!