Coming Down to Earth
by Gutman Locks
Perhaps one of the funniest, wackiest and yet deeply moving books to come out recently, is "Coming Back to Earth" written by Gutman Locks. A born again Jew who spends a good part of his day at the Kotel assisting people to put on Tephilin, his religious appearance covers the highly unusual life that he lead not so many years ago.
After giving up a successful career in business, Gutman decided to search the world for truth. Ending up in India and studying from the great masters of meditation, Gutman also became a successful guru in Central Park, New York. There he and his followers would sit for hours and meditate together.
The book traces his journeys, some very humorous, some rather wacky, and others very deep through eastern meditation, to Christianity and finally to his present being, a Chassidic Jew.
A difficult book to read, because of the difficulty in putting it down, it is a non stop adventure, written with humor and in depth explanation of life through the eyes of a person who truly has "been there, done that."
* * *
I was putting tefillin on tourists at the Kotel. It was a very busy
and the Kotel area, both the men's and women's sides, was full of
The police were expecting trouble, and there were at least 100 police
vehicles parked in and around the plaza area. There were armed,
soldiers and police waiting all around. I was about 20 yards back from
wall itself, putting tefillin on someone, when the police suddenly
"Get out! Get out quick!"
Immediately, stones began flying down on us. First there were one
two, but then they began to rain down on us. We ran away from the Kotel
into the plaza area, out of range of the rocks. The man I was helping
with the tefillin still on, as the police hurried the crowd out of
Within seconds, hundreds, no, thousands, of fist-sized stones came
over the Kotel! They came crashing down, literally covering the stone
floor. There was not a six-inch space of the entire area that didn't have
deadly stone on it. These stones came down with such force that they
THROUGH THE HALF-INCH-THICK FORMICA-COVERED PLYWOOD CHAIRS, LEAVING
FIST-SIZED HOLES CLEAR THROUGH!
That day there was an open and revealed miracle. Although the
area was filled with men, women and children, and thousands of deadly
came crashing down on us, not a single person was hurt.
After it was over, the Arabs claimed it was a spontaneous outburst
frustration. A Christian Arab priest who teaches in the Arab school
wrote in the newspaper that the little children were instructed for
before to carry the stones in their schoolbags up onto the Temple Mount
prepare for the attack.
From the spiritual side, I always felt that just like the sacrifices
that were offered here in Jerusalem during the Temple days benefited all
the Jews, wherever they happened to be, so do the prayers of the Jews
praying at the Kotel benefit all of the Jews in the world, wherever we
be. One of the methods the Torah prescribes for carrying out the death
sentence is by stoning. I think we, the Jewish people, over the years
have transgressed so much that we deserved this death penalty. Now,
to the Arabs, we received our punishment and are free (or at least we
off a portion of the debt).
Thank God, no Jews were hurt. This stoning
happened more than one time. Another time we were all herded inside the
covered area and had to wait until the stones stopped crashing down,
onto the tables and chairs. A third time, I had already left that
before it happened. Now, this year, it has happened several times
* * *
One afternoon at the Kotel, I saw a non-Jewish man who looked
I went over to him and asked, "Where are you from?"
"I am the Governor of Georgia," was his reply.
"Well shut my mouth. I do declare. I am speaking to the Governor
Georgia," I said in my finest southern accent. I went on, "Governor, I
to thank you. I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart. Without
your help, we couldn't survive here. We are surrounded by 500 million
who are trying to destroy us, and without the help that you give us, we
wouldn't be able to survive." (Personally, I believe that all the help
America gives us helps America more than it helps us. God rewards good
good, but I don't think it would have helped to have told the Governor
much he is indebted to us for our letting him give us those billions of
dollars in weapons each year.)
Tears came to his eyes. I shook his hand and went back to the
booth. The next day, I read in the paper that the Governor of Georgia
changed his mind. Up until then he had always voted for the Arabs, but
that he has been to Jerusalem he intends to support Israel. Again the
familiar theme: You never know what good you do when you do a mitzvah.
One of the main, over-all categories of Commandments that a Jew is
endowed with is the privilege of being a "light unto the nations." If a
non-Jew is not behaving properly, it may very well be because he was
shown the correct way.
* * *
One afternoon I saw a group of non-Jews gathered around their guide,
sort of looked Jewish. After spending some time working at the tefillin
booth, you can pretty much tell if someone is Jewish or not, and I was
almost sure that this guy was. I walked up to him and asked him if
he was Jewish. He said he wasn't. I walked away not believing him, but
what could I do if the guy said that he wasn't a Jew. After a while I
back and asked again, "Is your mother Jewish?"
He said, "No, she was a Christian her whole life. But," he added,
grandmother was Jewish, and she was killed in the Holocaust."
I asked if it was his mother's mother or his father's mother.
He said it was his mother's mother.
I said, "Your mother's mother was a Jew so your mother was a Jew.
since your mother was a Jew, you are a Jew, and now you're going to put
"No!" he insisted, he couldn't put on tefillin.
I insisted that he was a Jew and that he had to put on tefillin.
He explained, "Look, in truth, my mother was raised as a Christian,
I have been raised all my life as a Christian, and in fact, I am now a
minister in the church, and these people you see gathered around me here
my flock. I've brought them here to see the foundations of
I said, "Your mother was converted to Christianity as a little girl
because anyone believed in that stuff, but to save her life from the
Holocaust. She was a Jew and so are you a Jew, and you are going to put
tefillin!" I grabbed his arm and started pulling him toward the
His "flock" quickly gathered around him, complaining, "What are you
doing to our minister?"
I said, "He is a Jew, and he's going to put on tefillin!"
He said, "For my dead grandmother's sake I'm going to put on
I wrapped tefillin on him and he read the prayers in English, as his
looked on in disbelief.
At the Kotel helping a soldier put on Tephilin
Gutman Locks' books can be purchased via his web site http://www.thereisone.com/
from the May 2004 Edition of the Jewish Magazine