The tefillin that saved 100,000 people

mitzvah of tefillin

How one man’s mitzvah of tefillin saved 100,000 lives

Excerpt of a shiur by Rav Eliezer Berland, shlita, that was given before Shacharit Tuesday morning, Parshat Shelach Lecha, 5778

You can merit to have a long life via [the mitzvah of laying] tefillin – all in the merit of putting on tefillin. The moment you get up, you have to put on tefilling. I see that people come to the davening without their tefillin.

They put them on by Baruch she amar, or there are those that put them on by the Shemona Esrei, or there are those that put them before shkia (sunset). When a person gets up in the morning – he goes to the mikvah and he puts on tefillin! This is automatic, this is a natural reflex, you don’t have to think in order to put on your tefillin.

You get up in the morning and you put on your tefillin, and then in the merit of doing this, you’ll live to 120.

Once, there was a story about a bachur (young man) who screamed ‘tefillin!’ again and again. This story happened in the US, in NY. He started screaming about his tefillin over and over again, and everyone started shouting.

The story was that two planes were supposed to leave at the same time, not just one plane, to leave at the same minute and to collide with the Twin Towers.

And there was a bachur there, who, after he got on the plane, remembered that he’d forgotten his tefillin.  So he started screaming, “Tefillin! Where are my tefillin?! You won’t fly without my tefillin. Bring me my tefillin! I’m not flying without my tefillin!. The plane will not depart without my tefillin! I won’t let you fly!”

The young man misses his flight

So the pilot comes over to him and says: “What’s happening? – Get out of here! You won’t fly, and your tefillin also won’t fly!” The bachur said, “No, I will fly, and my tefillin will also fly!” This is what he said. So the pilot opened the door and threw him out of the plane, he rolled over, and the plane took off and never returned.

That plane collided with the second building of the Twin Towers. And in the merit of his tefillin, the bachur was saved from being onboard that disastrous flight. Because without your tefillin, you can’t fly.  

What’s more, because he delayed the plane from taking off, 100,000 people were saved, because in those 17 minutes that he delayed the plane, 100,000 people managed to escape from the second building, because they’d heard that a plane had collided with the other building.

On the loudspeakers they said that nothing had happened. They had information from the army that ‘nothing had happened’. Everything is decided according to information you get from the military. [So they said over the loudspeakers] “You shouldn’t panic, this was just a plane accident, we are requesting everyone to keep calm. We can inform you that it is still business as usual, the regular routine.”

Business as usual

They can launch 80 rockets – 100 rockets – 1000 rockets, but it’s still ‘business as usual’, carry on with the routine, even if everyone should die [as a result].

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This is the best thing, the main thing, to stick to the routine. So the routine carries on, and they announced on the loudspeakers that no one should leave the building and no one should escape, because this was just a plane accident.

But no one listened to the loudspeakers! People don’t have a lot of faith, they don’t believe, There is an entire lesson in Likutey Moharan about this, in Lesson 87, that people don’t have a lot of faith. So no-one believed the loudspeakers, and after 17 minutes the second plane arrived, and all this was in the merit of the tefillin!

So if a person will shout “Tefillin! Tefillin! Tefillin! Tefillin!” then he’ll see that the plane will always be delayed by 18 minutes. So if someone forgets their tefillin on the table, then he should ask them to bring him his tefillin.  This will only take them two minutes, half a minute to do.

But they said:“No, we won’t change the time we are meant to take-off!” Because the main thing [for them] is to be organized. This is the principal thing.

Really? A person could finish his tikkun (spiritual rectification) within a few seconds, but if he is with the Tzaddik, then he will live to 120.


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[1] what מֹשֶׁה רַבֵּנוּ told the spies to do.

[2] בַּמִּדְבָּר יג, טז

[3] What the spies actually did.

[4] בַּמִּדְבָּר יג, כא

[5] בְּרֵאשִׁית כט, יז

[6] Like there are by the Arabs, families who live together.

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  1. If he’d acted more politely, he’d have lost his tefillin, lost his life, and a further 100,000 people could well have been killed on 9/11. Under the circumstances, it’s clear why Hashem caused him to act the way he did.

    • I see nothing wrong with him getting off the plane to find his tefillin. That, to me, would have been in line with Torah behavior.

  2. There is a dispute as to the amount of people in the tower but this seems to be consist with other numbers :

    Approximately 17,000 workers were in the buildings when the planes crashed into them. The towers usually had around 50,000 workers in them in the middle of any given work day.

  3. The Rav sometimes exaggerates numbers – as did Chazal before him. The Sages have done this frequently throughout Jewish history to make a point.


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