It's been so long since I last forgot to wrap tefillin, I don't even remember when it was. That is all.
Lazer, I've been searching for you (thankfully, with the ease of a Google search, it only took a second). That is, if you're the same Lazer who left this comment on the Chabad website. To wit: "My dad gave me a copy of this in booklet form. It's dated 1960 (5721), and is dedicated to the memory of the author, Alexander Cowen (1886-1959; 5646-5720). Glad to see it's been preserved online, complete with updated diction and photographs. Thanks!" Is this you? And to think I'm trying to find out through a blog entry of yours also dealing with Tefillin! In any case, I owe this Lazer Kaufman who left me this comment a big thanks. I'll tell you why, but first I need to ask you if that was your comment or not?Daniel, Kyoto
Daniel,Yes, that's me. I'm flattered by your response. What's up?
Lazer, It was you!! This is wonderful. Here's the story--short version. About a month or so ago I started searching the web for sites that would help educate me in Judaism. I was brought up in a very secular home. I've been to Synagogue only once in my life, this for a friends Bar Mitzvah. But I always understood I was Jewish, and in my own way was proud as well as humbled by this fact. Anyway, as my search began I soon found the Chabad website and learned of the importance of Tefillin and began to very much want to wrap Tefillin myself. I also began to ask questions of my mother about our family. I had always known her grandfather (my great-grandfather, of course) had come to America at a young age. Then brought the rest of his family over. He had done well in his business and for a number of reasons he had retired early, and that after retiring he had spent a lot of time in his study. Though he remained throughout his years worldly in many ways, he had had many orthodox friends. This I knew. Asking my mother for more information, she sent me the family tree and she told me a few more facts and stories. Amongst other things she told me he kept a Kosher home. She said he was very devoted to wrapping Tefillin. She told me the Rebbe had become an important influence in his life. Having learned my great-granfather's first name for the first time in my life, I already knew he had changed his family name from Cohen to Cowen, for some reason I decided to do a websearch. Thinking, "This is silly!" But up came a small pamphlet explaining Tefillin, and one Alexander Cowen was its author. Could this be my great-grandfather's work? I immediately believed, "Yes." I talked to my mother. She had never heard that such a work of his had been published, but then again she thought it was quite possible nevertheless. She was hoping, very much, that it was his work. In any case, our talks had brought back to her many fond memories of her time as a little girl playing in her grandfather's study while he was studying and also many good memories of New York City in that era. Alexander Cowen had been a doting Grandfather. Via the internet I located an edition of the pamphlet in a library in Cornwall and asked the librarian their if any information about the author was contained therein. She was very helpful, and she sent me a photocopy of the pamphlet, but alas there was no such information therein. In a number of ways I have come up without answers to this question, often making a fool of myself I'm sure. And just after I had all but given up hope of finding out one way or another, while searching Chabad.org for something else, I came across a work on Tefillin by Alexander Cowan. It was the same pamphlet as Alexander Cowen had written. This confused me. At the last moment, fortunately, I scrolled down and found your comment, as if it had been written for me: my great-grandfather lived from 5646 until 5720. He was the author!! I phoned my mother. She was overjoyed. While I'm still hoping to find out more information about my great-grandfather Alexander, I am now quite sure the author of this pamphlet and my great-grandfather are one. (At least until it is proven otherwise.) Lazer, you came through in a big way!! Wow, my short explanation has grown long. I'd go back and re-read it, correct the grammar and try to make it more understandable, but no need: you surely get the gist of the story. Though you must not have intended for this at the time of its writing, I can't help but believe your comment was intended to be there. And also, to think, this post itself is about Tefillin! After I get the opportunity to perform this Mitzva for the first time, my thoughts are sure to go to my great-grandfather Alexander and the musician in Brooklyn called Lazer. Again, thank you so much. So, when are you coming to Kyoto? You'll always have a place to stay here.Daniel
Boruch Hashem! This is really Hashgacha Pratis (Divine providence); everything is Hashgacha Pratis, it's just a matter of whether we see it. Anyway, I have some more information for you. The dedication in the booklet reads,Dedicated to the Memory ofALEXANDER COWENBorn: Sivan 21, 5646 - June 24, 1886Died: Mar-Cheshvan 24, 5720 - November 25, 1959Hope this helps. Is that Kyoto, Japan? You can send me an e-mail sometime, I'd love to hear your story in full. I also have a strong connection to wrapping tefillin that involves my paternal grandfather. Please let me know if I can help you find a place to wrap tefillin. I would really be honored to help you fulfill this mitzvah.I hope you don't mind if I share your story with some of my friends. Zai gezunt. Gut Shabbos.
The days match too! Proof that it is my great-grandfather. Thank you so much. I'm honored that you are going to help me fulfill this mitzvah. I'll drop you an email (I was snooping on another website of yours and it had your gmail address, so if you don't mind that is what I'll use). Please do share this story. I'm sure you'll help me out by telling it better than I have. Yes--Kyoto, Japan. If you have the time and inclination, do come and visit. Gut Shabbos. Daniel
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