This past Monday afternoon, while walking out of a restaurant with my lunch in hand, I spotted a table of Chabad guys with t’fillin (phylacteries) in hand.
My first thought: Don’t make eye contact. Please, don’t make eye contact.
What is wrong with me? I couldn’t really place why I had done this until I read this article in the Forward. The article is about a woman in Brooklyn who was approached by a religious man asking her if she wanted to shake a lulav and etrog for Sukkot. Instead of saying yes or no, she simply denied that she was Jewish.
There’s my answer. I didn’t want to be faced with this awkward situation of me denying my Judaism. I might disagree with a lot of Chabad principles, but surely asking people to fulfill one mitzvah isn’t a bad thing.
There is a great discussion going on right now on the MJL website about the merits of Chabad. Maybe the discussion can shift a bit to talk about why so many Jews walk past Chabadniks without putting on t’fillin. After all, the mitzvah is probably more important than your personal opinions towards Chabad.