On Motza’ei Shabbos, February 8, community members gathered at the home of this writer to hear Rabbi Chaim Reisman, Director of Etnachta (Inspiring Jews to embrace Judaism) and a close talmid of Rav Chaim Kanievsky shlita, share an inspiring shiur on emunah.
Rabbi Reisman spoke in Hebrew with an English translator present. He shared that davening is anchored in truthfulness. T’filah, bitachon, avodas Hashem, and hodaah are all mentioned in p’sukim that have the word “truth” in them. After 120 years, Hashem will ask, “Did you really daven?” A person can daven, but if it doesn’t have the essential kavanah, then, although he is davening in front of the King of Kings, it doesn’t have the bare minimum, so the prayer won’t go anywhere. He shared a story of a man who was learning in kollel in Israel. He had eight children and they lived in a one-bedroom apartment, and his wife was expecting another child. They didn’t know where they were going to fit the next child. The husband decided that he was going to talk to his tatty. He asked the rosh kollel if he could take a day and go daven at the Kosel. He went there and cried and prayed with all his heart. A French businessman saw him and went over and asked if he could help him, if everything was all right. The man replied, “This is between me and Hashem.” The businessman saw how much this man was crying and approached him again. “Please, may I help you with something? I came to Israel to buy real estate; maybe you can help me to find a good investment.”
So, the man agreed to help this businessman find a good apartment to buy. He picked out a four-bedroom apartment for this businessman. The businessman then bought the apartment under his name and gave the key to this man. “He said, ‘You should live here until 120.’”
When the others in the kollel heard this story, they all asked the rosh kollel if they could go daven at the Kosel. They went and prayed for an apartment, but none of them were answered. The rosh kollel explained to them that their friend went to daven to Hashem, and Hashem has many messengers. You were praying for a Frenchman to come and a Frenchman has no messengers. Rabbi Reisman explained, “This is to call Hashem with truth.”
He shared a famous teaching of Rav Chaim Volozhin. He said that in time of trouble, one should recite, “Ein od milvado” with strong kavanah. “It is not enough to say it or think it. You must, deep inside, believe it. ‘Only Hashem can help me.’” If a person really means it, then Hashem will help him 100 percent.” He taught that this is to trust Hashem with truth. He then shared a personal story. He was driving to give a class in Los Angeles and he was using Waze and a standard GPS. At a certain point, the Waze directed him one way and the GPS directed him a different way, so he changed course suddenly. All at once, a highway patrol car pulled over beside his car. Rabbi Reisman’s friend in the car was scared. Rabbi Reisman told him to recite Ein od milvado. The officer asked, “What is going on?”
Rabbi Reisman explained about the problem with Waze and the GPS. The officer laughed. He asked to see the rabbi’s passport. The rabbi kept reciting Ein od milvado. Miraculously, the officer let him go. This is because Rabbi Reisman had full emunah that Hashem would help him in this situation. Rabbi Reisman added, “Nowadays a person has to trust Hashem at least as much as he trusts Waze.” Hashem decides where we should go. We must trust that Hashem knows where He is taking us.
He then quoted a pasuk in T’hilim that states that grace surrounds a person who trusts in Hashem. The pasuk doesn’t promise that a righteous person will suffer no agony. “We have to see that sometimes pain and agony are good. If we really trust Hashem, then His grace surrounds us.” Rabbi Reisman offered a mashal of a cup of coffee. It is made up of opposites: Coffee is black and milk is white, the water is hot and the milk is cold, the sugar is sweet and the coffee is bitter. The ingredients do not taste good by themselves; but mixed together we say a brachah of SheHaKol. So, the difficulties mixed with the happy times all come together and surround a person who trusts in Hashem with grace.
He then shared a story that showed that whether something is good or bad depends on how you view a situation. You need to have the perspective of emunah in how you look at events. He emphasized that when a person thanks Hashem for the good and the bad, Hashem will give him grace in the future. This is a big y’sod.
He shared a story of a rabbi in Monsey who had a bad accident and lost hearing in his left ear. He went to a specialist in Arizona who said that he would not regain his hearing but he could do an operation to relieve pain.
Back home, the man then went into shul and opened the aron ha’kodesh. He thanked Hashem for his ear that worked well and for all his blessings. Then he thanked Hashem for the bad things. Then he thanked Hashem for the hearing that he will have in his left ear.
A month later, he returned to Arizona to the specialist and asked the doctor to check the hearing in his left ear. To the doctor’s total amazement, the man had regained 80 percent of his hearing back. The man spoke at his shul in Monsey and shared this story. One of the listeners absorbed this message. He had two unmarried daughters over age 30. He went home and told his wife Mazal Tov. We have a chasan for both of our daughters. They thanked Hashem for all their blessings, both the good and the not good, and then they thanked Him for the chasanim He was sending. Each of these girls got engaged in a short time and married.
Rabbi Reisman’s message was clear. “When we really thank Hashem, He will give us more things to say thank you for.”
He then spoke of the emunah of a tzadik, and specifically Rav Kanievsky shlita, who learns 19 hours out of 24 and sees people for blessings. He quoted that a tzadik makes a decree and Hashem makes it successful. When you go to a tzadik, you get tremendous help from Hashem. Rav Kanievsky finishes Shas every year; and after he finishes, he takes a bottle of wine and designates it. He blesses. The Rav spoke about how people who purchased this wine found that it was a tremendous s’gulah for what they needed. He also distributed papers so people could send requests for a brachah from Rav Kanievsky.
By Susie Garber