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.