So, Moshe Rabbeinu taught his nation about Tefillin and Mezuzah. Get ready to learn about another Rabbi, also named Moshe, who was also quite busy teaching his fellow Jews about Tefillin and Mezuzah.
Introducing the very special, wonderful Rabbi Moshe, from a small French town called Coucy (pronounced Koo-see). One night, this great Rabbi had a heavenly dream. In the dream, HaShem pleaded with Rabbi Moshe to travel to Spain.
Did Rabbi Moshe go back to sleep? After all, it was “just a dream.” Well, let’s see…
Rabbi Moshe woke up….
“Huh? What was that? A dream? It was no ordinary dream… It’s a message… a mission… a heavenly mission!”
Rabbi Moshe knew exactly what he had to do. He quickly packed his bags (whether he put a Spanish dictionary into his suitcase is anyone’s guess) and traveled all the way to Spain. It wasn’t an easy trip, but somehow, someway, he made it.
The courageous and ambitious Rabbi traveled from one community to the next, throughout Spain (and in an area of Southern France called Provence). He would get up on a stand and cry out passionately to his fellow Jews: “My people, the Mitzvos of Tefillin, Mezuzah, and Tzitzis are so important! If you aren’t yet doing these Mitzvos, now is the time to begin! Do not miss this opportunity!”
“Rabbi Moshe, tell us more. Why is it so important? We live amongst non-Jews in a non-Jewish country. They don’t keep these Mitzvos and they’re doing fine. Why should we?”
And so, he explained to them, in the most beautiful, inspiring way. He spoke and spoke. And then he spoke and spoke even more. And even more… a lot more. Patiently and eloquently Rabbi Moshe explained the Mitzvos in a way only he knew how, until the people, young and old, began to understand that it was not a burden, but rather a privilege to observe these Mitzvos.
The deeply pious and sincere words of the Rabbi from the small French town affected them greatly.
In the words of Rabbi Moshe:
"They returned by the thousands and tens of thousands to observe the commandments of the Torah. They began to wear Tzitzis and Tefillin, and attached Mezuzos to their doors, no longer ashamed to act as Jews among their non-Jewish neighbors.”
Sefer Mitzvos HaGadol, Mitzvos Eseih, Siman 3
“Rabbi, the way you explained these few Mitzvos was soooo wonderful,” the people exclaimed, “can you write it down in a book?! Please!”
“Yes, Rabbi, and while you’re at it, can you explain all 613 Mitzvos of the Torah?”
Rabbi Moshe was hesitant to do this. He felt that he was unworthy to write a book about such holy Mitzvos. But one day, he had another heavenly dream. The message was clear:
“Rabbi Moshe, write a book consisting of all 613 Mitzvos, and make it interesting, just as you did for the Jews of Spain.”
To make a long story short – that’s exactly what he did. He authored a book that became quite popular, called Sefer Mitzvos HaGadol, or SMaG for short – The Great Book of Mitzvos. It is read and learned until this very day.
How do we know this story? It’s all there in his book.
Oh. And one more thing. Rabbi Moshe of Coucy lived over 800 years ago… way back in the 13th century! So, come to think of it, it seems that Rabbi Moshe was the very first one to put up a Tefillin booth!