The Truth is Here
י״ז במרחשון ה׳תש״פ (15 בNovember 2019)
In a Bnei Brak synagogue you may see an elderly respected Jew attended by a Philippine attendant. That is a common sight. But you might see the attendant take out his own tefillin and put them on and pray alongside the elderly rabbi.
This attendant’s name is Emanuel Ben Abraham who until his conversion to Judaism a week age was called Emil Manita. He was in Israel for the past 17 years and he merited being the attendant of Rabbi Shach and previously Rabbi Abraham Kahaneman the dean of the Ponivezh Yeshiva.
Being in the homes of Torah Giants and attending to their needs he saw Judaism from up close. Emanuel observed their conduct, the morals they lived with and the centrality of Torah in their life. He saw the reverence all visitors had for these Torah giants and was deeply impressed by the respect given to their Torah scholarship. He felt there was something different, more moral and powerful than he had ever seen. Ultimately he converted to Judaism and shares his experience with us in the following paragraphs.
“I grew up a Catholic Philippine man,” he said over in an interview to the Yated Ne’eman newspaper. “In my youth we learned the Christian religion and I was exposed to classical Torah texts. When I came to Israel I told myself that I would like to investigate where the truth lies and what is the closest to what Moses brought down from Mount Sinai?”
When I came to Israel and I observed the Torah giants from up close, the conduct of people who learn Torah and keep mitzvoth, watching them keep the mitzvoth with great dedication, Tefillin and Mezuzah just as they were commanded and not in a twisted way I felt here was something genuine. I felt the Judaism is primal the original that was given to Moses at Mount Sinai without change. This authentic Judaism that was preserved for all the generations exactly as given without change gave me the feeling that here is the real deal, the genuine article.”
“How did you feel when attending these Torah giants?” Emanuel answered: “I first attended Rabbi Abraham Kahaneman and then Rabbi Aschayak brought me to Rabbi Shach. He was already in his last years. I saw that even in their advanced age and weaknesses their special conduct and the seriousness they had when performing mitzvoth, their great respect for Torah, their moral and noble conduct with other elderly Torah leaders. This aroused in me a feeling that there is something deeper and original and I started to investigate this until I came to a strong internal desire to belong to the holy nation and it’s Torah. Today I am thirsty to know more and more about the wisdom of the Torah and its knowledge.”
“Do you feel that Judaism is hard or easy to keep?” Emanuel answered: “Hard. Truth requires determination. But I want something serious, not something light but something deep. When you serve food, every catholic eats right away, but I was looking for something with thought and self-control. From my first year in Israel I always fasted on Yom Kippur… even as a non-Jew. I feel like Ruth the Moabite who turned her back on the house of her father. I feel exactly the same way that Israel is my nation and the G-d of Israel is my G-d and where they go I go!”
Last week Emanuel completed his conversion process and had a circumcision. “The truth is I wanted to call myself Gabriel but Rabbi Kaplan suggested Emanuel so I am Emanuel ben Abraham.”
“I want to thank Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky and Rabbi Nissim Kareltz who lit up the path for me and embraced me in the beginning of my path. I also want to thank Rabbi Shlomo Kanievsky the dean of Kiryat Melech and Rabbi Sharia Deblitzky and all the other rabbis that helped me learning the laws of Judaism and opened a door for me to enter the world of Judaism,” Emanuel said.
Afterwards he took out a Book of Psalms and said over the Psalms longingly. He says he has a special deep feeling for the Book of Psalms written by King David who was from the descendants of Ruth the Moabite and the Psalms strum on his heartstrings.
The interviewer wanted to shoot a picture with Emanuel and asked him if he had a smartphone to shoot a picture together. Emanuel answered: “The Torah Giants said not to have a phone with internet so as not to stumble in sin so all I have is a simple phone according to their instructions” Emanuel says with simplicity. “I accepted the obligation of mitzvoth and that includes listening to the Torah giants in this too.”
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