Mitzvah Mobile/Tank (1974, 1975)

Bapopik at AOL.COM Bapopik at AOL.COM
Sat Apr 8 00:29:02 UTC 2006

MITZVAH TANK--9,960 Google hits
MITZVAH MOBILE--299 Google hits
"Mitzvah Tank" was just on Gothamist. "Mitzvah Tank/Mobile" is not in the  
revised OED. OED editors should get taken for a ride more.
In 1974, a new apparition began to make its appearance in the streets of  
Manhattan. Even in that hubbub of crowd and clamor, this strange vehicle  
attracted attention. 
It was a standard van of the “U-Haul” or “Ryder” variety. It’s back door 
was  rolled up, showing a cargo of one large wooden table, two wooden benches, 
and a  dozen young men with beards and black hats. From a loudspeaker taped to 
its roof  issued forth a medley of Chassidic songs played on high volume—that 
is, high  enough to make itself heard above the din of a Manhattan street 
corner. Large  posters taped to the sides of the moving van proclaimed: “MITZVAH 
TANK”,  “Teffilin on board” and “Mitzvot On The Spot For People On The Go.” 
“Mitzvah” means “commandment”. A mitzvah is one of the 613 divine  
instructions to the Jew contained in the Torah. The word also means  “connection”: a 
deed that connects the human being who performs it with G-d, who  commanded 
Before the Rebbe’s “mitzvah campaign”, the mitzvah was a private deed,  
performed by the “religious” Jew at home or in the synagogue. So it was only  
natural that the Rebbe’s approach raised many an eyebrow: “Tefillin on a  hippie?
” “What’s the point of doing one mitzvah on the way to lunch in a  
non-kosher restaurant?” Mitzvot were seen as the details that made up a  religious Jew’
s lifestyle—pointless when not part of the whole  package.

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