I read this question - Contemporary rabbinic views on social pressure to get people to do Mitzvoth - and it seemed to apply to a recent situation.

I was with a group of friends recently on a Sunday evening in a Northeastern city, getting ready to enter a 100+ year old baseball stadium to see a band that some members have been playing together for 50+ years. Since some of us had travelled from different parts of the country and hadn't seen each other for decades, we celebrated for hours before the show, some of us drinking, some of us smoking a substance that had recently been made completely legal to enjoy in that state.

Along come a couple of Chabad folks, who immediately zeroed in on a couple of Jewish members of the group, trying to get them to lay tefillin. This was in the middle of a huge crowd of concertgoers. They ended up concentrating on one of us, who was doing his best to decline for what he thought were valid reasons - he was intoxicated in various directions and explained he would not be able to concentrate with proper kavanah, it was over 90 humid degrees out and he was sweaty and dirty, etc.

Didn't matter to these guys. They just kept hounding him, slipping candles into his pocket(which of course got confiscated during the entry search), and saying it was just fine to lay tefillin(which they couldn't tell us the last time a sofer checked them to see if they were pasul) in the midst of a raging, wasted crowd, while intoxicated and dirty/sweaty. They kept pushing that it didn't matter, it was the mitzvah alone that counted. It wasn't until we physically walked away and through the entry gates, after the music started (coincidentally, a song called "Samson & Delilah"), that he was left alone and the situation ended.

So - my question is - when presented with extremely pushy people, what is the most polite way of declining? The non-Jewish members of the crowd were ready to politely but firmly turn them around and make sure they kept walking away from us, but we did not let that happen. What words work best in a situation like this?

  • 3
    קונם תפילין אלו עלי היום should be quite effective.
    – Double AA
    Jun 27, 2017 at 17:03
  • 2
    Why the need to be polite? Tell them you only use Ksav Beis Yosef and you believe ksav Ari is passul.
    – user6591
    Jun 27, 2017 at 17:46
  • Would simply telling them that you laid tfillin earlier help? What is the point of doing it twice in one day?
    – Mike
    Jun 27, 2017 at 22:49
  • 1
    Perhaps you could edit out the big personal story in the middle and leave some form of the first and last paragraph? As it stands, I don't think that's enough to make it close-worthy, but that could definitely help improve it. As for those who voted as Jews not Judaism, the question isn't about Chabadniks, but about a polite way to get people pestering you to put on Tefillin to cut it out. To me the proper VTC reason would be too broad or primarily opinion based, not off-topic.
    – DonielF
    Jun 27, 2017 at 23:43
  • 1
    That one should probably have the story taken out as well.
    – DonielF
    Jun 27, 2017 at 23:54

2 Answers 2


The most effective way is to simply firmly and politely refuse without providing any explanation. Giving a justification for your refusal invites the pushy people to refute your justification. If you just say "no", they might try a few more times but if after repeating "no" a few times you say, "Sorry, I'm not interested," they will most likely move on. You can only argue with "no" for so long.


Each situation needs a different approach, so I don't know if there is a general rule.

Let's address your specific story, instead. I like Chaba"d, but, from reading your story, I agree that I don't understand their thinking, here. I see no purpose in their forcing tefillin on intoxicated people. Jews being intoxicated publicly is a Chilul Hashem as it is. Putting tefillin on such people - I don't know, might just add to that problem. It doesn't accomplish any appreciation of performing the mitzvah anyway, b/c you're too drunk to understand what's going on.

Perhaps, you could have explained that aspect to them, i.e., there's no mitzvah really being accomplished, here.

As far as "pushy" Chaba"d people (I sometimes get them in the subway), I would just tell them, I'm too busy now, and I'm just not comfortable. Do you have a brochure or other info where I can find out more? In many cases, the mere fact that you're willing to accept even a brochure from them will keep them happy, and they'll leave you alone.

If you're in a busy place (like that subway station) where there are sure to be other Jews walking by, you can always tell them to try that other stranger!

  • 1
    It doesn't accomplish any appreciation of performing the mitzvah anyway, b/c you're too drunk to understand what's going on. Only if you're drunk like Lot. Jun 27, 2017 at 18:33
  • That was what bothered us - it was in the middle of the street. If they set up a table in the vending area, like the Jews For Jerry used to do, they would have gotten a lot more positive response. Also - we were in no way too drunk/etc to know what was going on..we're OLD!! We knew we were old when hangovers began to last 2 days, and the whole excess thing became no fun. We were just in a very celebratory mood, catching up with people we hadn't seen in years, running into others we never expected to see, all of us ready to see where the music would take us that night--and it was a good one!
    – Gary
    Jun 28, 2017 at 2:28

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .