The Lubavitcher Rebbe Menachem Mendel Schneerson lived from 1902 to 1994 and was the seventh leader in the Chabad-Lubavitch dynasty. He was an incredible Jewish personality who had thousands of followers and admirers world-wide. He used to receive people from all walks of life into his study to listen, advise and direct. The following is an interesting story of a conversation he had with Professor Avraham Polichenco which provides a unique take on Tefillin and their relevance in our lives today.
In the early sixties the “mainframe computers” were making their first appearances in businesses. Professor Avraham Polichenco was a professor of computer science who introduced computers to Argentina. This pioneer was fortunate enough to visit the luminary Lubavitcher Rebbe and engage in conversation with him. In one of their conversations the professor asked the Rebbe the following:
“I know that everything that exists in the world, even something that we discover later in history, has its source somewhere in the Torah. So, where are there computers in the Torah?”
What was the Rebbe’s response? “Tefillin.” His answer baffled the professor so the Rebbe continued to explain. The Rebbe told the professor that there is nothing new about the computer. If one walks into a room with a computer one can simply see a variety of familiar machines such as a typewriter, tape recorder, calculator etc that are simply all connected by the cables running under the floorboards. Those cables enable the machines to run in unison.
Suddenly the professor understood and nodded excitedly. He had never thought of it in such terms but actually the Rebbe was right. A computer is simply an amalgamation of media and processing instruments!
The Rebbe continued to elucidate. He explained how the human being is made up of three separate entities- the mind, heart and hands. The role of the Tefillin is to connect these three “machines” first thing in the morning via it’s leather “cables”. Through the act of putting on Tefillin, one enables all three to work towards one goal. After putting on Tefillin in the morning, one is ready to face the world as a harmonized being working in perfect coordination.
Adapted from an essay by Rabbi Tzvi Freeman from www.chabad.org