Working in Miami Beach, Florida, is a very different experience to those of our colleagues, who are currently in places like Abuja, Nigeria; Mumbai, India; Guayaquil, Ecuador; and Hanoi, Vietnam, to name just a few. While we don’t have to overcome the challenges (or excitement) of unfamiliar territory, lack of communication, and subpar accommodations, our days are quite similar–searching for Jews, helping them wrap tefillin or light Shabbat candles, teaching some Torah, and offering spirituality and a positive Jewish experience. And when a connection is achieved and we see souls on fire, it’s priceless in every language.

A few weeks ago, we were pleasantly surprised to be granted a meeting with Mr. Y, a prestigious attorney and real estate developer here in Miami. He graciously welcomed us into his office, and we spent an hour together. He shared some vignettes from his long and colorful career, and we shared some chassidic teachings. Before our time was up, we took our tefillin out of our bag.

“Sorry, boys, not today.” Mr. Y. cut straight to the chase. “I know exactly what those are. Last time I put them on was 25 or 30 years ago.”

Though we can’t claim to be seasoned lawyers, we did have a fair share of negotiating under our belts.

“Mr. Y., would you please reconsider? It will only take a few moments.”

“Maybe another time. Thanks so much for coming.” He shook our hands warmly as we bade each other farewell. Although he hadn’t donned tefillin, it was apparent that he had really enjoyed our company, and we were grateful for that.

Yesterday, we attended a farbrengen, a chassidic gathering, hosted at one of the local Chabad centers. We immediately spotted Mark, a lawyer who practices together with Mr. Y. We had met him and several of his Jewish colleagues that same day, and they had all agreed to put on tefillin.

“Hey boys, nu, did you get Mr. Y. to do tefillin?”

“No, unfortunately he refused.”

Mark gave us a loaded look. “Listen, you have to pay him one more visit before you leave. I think he wants to do it, he just needs that push. We’ve all been trying for years, and nothing, but I think if anyone can do it, it would be you guys.”

Well, after hearing that, we really didn’t have any other option then to stop by Mr. Y.’s office the next morning! "We're sorry we don't have a meeting scheduled, Mr. Y., but we're leaving town and wanted to say goodbye."

Luckily, he liked us, and invited us to sit. We started chatting, and the minutes passed quickly. After about an hour, we felt that the time was ripe.

“Mr Y., we’re heading back to New York tomorrow. Would you do us a huge favor…?”

Mr. Y. smiled. “You want me to put on tefillin, right? You know what, I’ll do it!”

“Great!” We quickly pulled out our tefillin before he could change his mind. Mr. Y. was duly wrapped, and from the wistful look on his face we could tell that it dredged up pleasant memories, perhaps of a simpler time in his life?

“Boys, thank you!” Mr. Y. cleared his throat. “That was really good.” Long pause.

“I think I am going to start wearing my tefillin again.”

“Mr. Y., can you commit to putting on tefillin every day?”

“You got me, boys. Yes, I will make that commitment!”

That magical moment was culminated by affixing a mezuzah to the door of his office. We parted like old friends, bear hugs included.

Mr. Y., L’chaim! May you always cherish that commitment. As we continue with our work, you will serve as our inspiration!