On Sunday evening, January 17, Rabbi Heshy Kleinman, author of Praying with Fire and well-known speaker, shared an illuminating virtual shiur on t’filah. Rabbi Kleinman shares a shiur on t’filah every Sunday night at 8 p.m. on Zoom. The shiur is sponsored by Chazaq, the V’ani Tefillah Foundation, Hakhel, Project Inspire, and TorahAnytime. Hakhel is an organization based in Brooklyn that runs Torah programs.
Rabbi Kleinman shared a teaching of Rav Avigdor Miller zt”l that our emunah today is only skin-deep. How do we get more solid emunah and feel that Hashem is with us, that He loves us, and that everything He does is the best for us? “Klal Yisrael are believers and sons of believers.” The Torah has survived through so many trials and difficulties. T’filah can elevate a person and bring him to great levels of emunah. The Gemara says that people treat t’filah lightly.
The M’silas Y’sharim acknowledges that we don’t see Hashem in front of us, and this makes davening hard. Studies show that 50% of communication is visual, 38% is vocal, and 7% involves actual words. We don’t see Hashem. He has no body language. It’s difficult to daven with feeling and kavanah. How can we increase our focus and kavanah?
Rabbi Kleinman shared that Noach, who was building the ark for 120 years, and was a tzadik, didn’t go into the ark until the waters forced him. The Steipler taught that we see in this example that his emunah was not that strong. Sensory emotional emunah accomplishes more than intellectual emunah. When you feel a hot cup, the experience is better at communicating that the cup is hot than just saying it’s hot. “Being told information is not as compelling as what a person experiences himself.”
The Rambam taught that the foundation of all foundations is to know that there is a Creator. Everything was brought into the world by G-d. It’s a positive mitzvah to know this. He taught that knowledge of certainty is the level of emunah a person has to have. A person needs to view the world and every challenge with this perspective that Hashem is controlling all the details of every situation.
When Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakai was ill, his students asked him to bless them. He said that their fear of Heaven should be like the fear they have of a person. Rav Chaim Shmuelevitz zt”l taught that if someone wants to speak about emunah, he should awaken others with a great depth of understanding. Everything has a purpose. We need to strive to reach the level of emunah where we can overcome the obstacle of not seeing Hashem.
This year, Hashem gave us something to help us reach this high level of emunah. In the blink of an eye, Hashem flipped the world on its head with the coronavirus. What is the message? Rabbi Kleinman shared that one message is to wake us up to daven. Another message is that Hashem is in charge. Still another idea is that Hashem put something invisible to the naked eye into the world, the coronavirus. Why did He create something invisible that created so much disruption in so many areas? Everybody was and is affected by something we can’t see. This includes families, individuals, schools, shuls, etc. Rabbi Kleinman taught that the lesson is that we want to be able to experience Hashem though we can’t see Him. Coronavirus teaches us the idea that we can connect to something we can’t see or feel with our senses and know that it exists in the world. Everyone needs to go through experiences. So the coronavirus lesson for us is, yes, Hashem runs the world in every minute detail; and more than that, He enables us to overcome obstacles though we don’t see or feel Hashem. Hashem is a reality in our world just as the coronavirus affected all of us.
Rabbi Kleinman taught that Hashem wants emunah revealed in this world of gashmiyus. He gave the audience a brachah that we should internalize that something we cannot see is reality and affects everyone. Similarly, Hashem cannot be seen. We should feel that we are speaking directly to Hashem and bring y’shuos and bring the g’ulah.
By Susie Garber