Sunday, March 30, 2008


The bar mitzvah this past Shabbos was beautiful. Family and friends heard the bar mitzvah boy- a sweet, gentle soul- give a practically flawless reading of the parshah. More to the point, the speeches were truly heartfelt, and full of the right emphasis, i.e. on the obligations now facing the new man. And of course, it being a family who always do everything with a perfect blend of taste, style and modesty, the hall and seudah were extremely pleasant. I could not have been happier for them (I will even admit to having had an unexpected welling up of tears in happiness), and had the nicest time, B'H'.

A brief comment on Parshah Shemini, since I will probably move on to this week's parshah shortly: it mentions in Midrash that Hashem waited to have His fire (aish) descend and consume the korbanos that Moshe and Aaron offered in order to communicate that Hashem answers prayer because He chooses to as a result of the tzchus (merit) of the given perosn. In other words, Hashem is not automatically invoked by calling out to Him, as is the prevailing thought amongst the other nations.

To extrapolate, when we daven to Hashem, Hashem contemplates whether or not He should answer us, and whether the answer should be positive or negative. In the end, that is at the crux of what makes davening so important: by davening, we grow closer to Hashem, through calling out to Him constantly, we can better evoke His compassion. Regardless of whether or not the initial answer is positive or negative, all answers are ultimately positive because even negative answers work to keep us humble and to refine us. And, even when there is no answer, we can learn that we should attempt to get closer to Hashem in order to merit an answer in future.

By getting in the habit of davening, we remind Hashem of our existence as His children while simultaneously reminding us that He is our Father, to whom we need to turn for everything. So, B'H', we have such an avenue available to us. And, B'H', we had this past week's parshah to remind us of just that.

1 comment:

  1. The word for prayer is tefillah. Tefillah comes from the word pellel which means "to judge." Tefillah is a time of self-evaluation, self-judgment, and introspection. Tefillah is when a person takes the time to focus on himself and goes within himself to see what it is that he needs, what it is that he is all about, what are his faults, what are his qualities, what is it that he needs from Hashem and why should Hashem give it to him. This self-assessment process happens through tefillah.

    Tefillah also means "attachment." When we daven, we create a bond between ourselves and our Creator. Tefillah is a process of putting things together. Tefillah is the process by which we begin looking at ourselves, focusing on ourselves, and proceeding to focus on Hashem and bringing ourselves closer to Him.

    Tefillah is something that is necessary for a person to obtain what he needs. Surely Hashem knows our needs without our asking, but Hashem wants us to realize what we need, and that we cannot get them in any manner without Him. This is all for our benefit. Through this we can get closer to Hashem.

    Tefillah is a certain power that enables one to even obtain things that one doesn't deserve otherwise. Things that one would never even think of getting can be acquired through Tefillah. Tefillah is a vehicle for maintaining a relationship, a “relational intimacy with Hashem. Through tefillah we increase our awareness of Hashem in our life and the role that Hashem plays in our life.

    Hashem can give us what we need without tefillos, however our tefillos are designed only to bring us closer to Hashem by exercising our "belief" muscles by asking Him and thanking Him for everything we want.

    No tefilah is left unanswered. When it seems that Hashem does not answer our tefillos, what is happening is that Hashem is "storing" those tefillos for a different time. Perhaps in the future we will need something but we will not realize we should pray for it. Perhaps our children will need something and we won't be there to help them, or even to pray for them. Hashem knows this, and so Hashem saves our tefillah sometimes to where we would want it used even more.

    No sincere tefillah goes unanswered. When we say it goes unanswered, what we mean is, we won't get what we want. But Hashem will do something for someone because of our tefillos. Even when tefillos are not answered, they still elicit a response from Hashem. That response may come in the form of an unexpected benefit later on in life, or a benefit that you did not even know you would need. The tefilloh may not do what you wanted it to do, but it will do something.

    All tefillos are answered. Maybe not in the way you expect, but they are. So don't worry. Hashem will answer your tefillos - He always does. And if He is not answering them now, in the way you want, that is because He is saving those tefillos for something much more important to you.

    So keep sending those tefillos upstairs! They're all, each and every one of them, earning interest until they can pay maximum benefits.