This segment will conclude our special series. We plan, b’ezras Hashem, to resume segments on Yotzeir HaM’oros next week.
We begin with two fundamental questions on Tefilah, which will lead us to the primary purpose of Tefilah and perhaps the most important aspect of Tefilah.
We know that the Imahos, our Matriarchs, were barren (Sarah, Rivkah, and Rachel). The Gemara (Y’vamos 64a) asks why. The Gemara answers that it was because “Hashem desires the tefilos of tzadikim.” What does that mean, and why was it necessary for our forefathers to daven for tens of years until they had a child who would continue the chain of producing klal Yisrael?
We also know that while the vegetation was created earlier, nothing sprouted until Adam was created on the sixth day and davened for rain. Why is it that our sustenance and the formulation of the Jewish people through the Avos had to come about specifically through tefilah?
The primary purpose of Tefilah is to strengthen our awareness of Hashem, especially the awareness that we are totally and absolutely dependent upon Him. Through that awareness and dependency, we become more connected and closer to Hashem. Those are the primary purposes of Tefilah (based on Chovos HaL’vavos and the Maharal, and as discussed in Sifsei Chayim and Toras Avigdor, amongst many other sources). From our smallest need to our largest, from individuals to communities to klal Yisrael, every aspect of our lives is dependent on Hashem. The more we strengthen, deepen, and internalize this recognition, the closer we come to achieving our greatest purposes of life: emunah and bitachon (faith and trust in Hashem), yir’as Hashem (awe of Hashem), ahavas Hashem (love of Hashem), d’veikus (attachment to Hashem).
Who amongst us today could have greater recognition of Hashem and be closer to Him than the Avos and Imahos; and yet, Hashem caused them to continue their tefilos for children for tens of years. HaRav Avigdor Miller explains that every last drop of greater and greater awareness is worth the wait, because that is amongst the greatest achievements of life – perhaps the greatest. Therefore, even those so close to Hashem continued to be pushed to daven constantly. Certainly we, who cannot even fathom the level they were on, must work hard to strengthen our tefilos.
We tend to view painful situations and tzaros as something we need to get rid of through tefilah. In reality, many times Hashem is bringing the pain for the very purpose of getting us to intensify our tefilos and deepen our awareness and recognition. This is what happened with the Avos and what “Hashem desires their tefilos” means. Hashem desires us to come closer to Him, and many times He helps us by pressing us to get stronger and stronger in our awareness and recognition that it’s all up to Him. It’s not up to the media, the voters, the politicians, the doctors, the pharmacists, or any other human being. All human beings and all circumstances that seem to create a result are only messengers of Hashem. It’s the how something came about, but not who brought it about or why it was brought about. Opinions and analysis are irrelevant. Tefilah is what Hashem seeks of us – more and more awareness, recognition, closeness, love, devotion, and commitment. That is what should occupy our time and conversations.
The Chazon Ish is quoted as saying that he devoted more toil to his tefilos than to the most difficult sugyos in Shas! He also teaches that when we daven for someone, we are actually credited with bringing about the beneficial result as if we performed whatever actions would be necessary to bring about that result. The power of our tefilos for klal Yisrael, for other individuals, and for ourselves is immense. Unfortunately, the yeitzer ha’ra understands this too well, and causes so many of us to struggle with tefilah even though we clearly see from the Torah how vital our tefilos are for the world, for those we daven for, and for ourselves.
How can we work to strengthen our tefilos and our awareness, bitachon, and connection with Hashem through those tefilos? Here are some of the many suggestions that can help:
1 – Focus intently on the words of Shemoneh Esrei, which were formulated through prophecy and ruach ha’kodesh, and that can rise to the highest heights in Heaven and accomplish what Hashem intended for them to do.
2 – Think about the words and what they can mean when applied to your personal situation, even though that is not the simple meaning. The words already contain within them all the needs of klal Yisrael and each individual. We just need to bring them out as Adam HaRishon brought out the vegetation that was already underground.
3 – We must truly and firmly believe that Hashem can bring about any and all salvations and be hopeful that, through His lovingkindness, He will.
4 – Personalize your tefilos both in how you understand the words themselves and by adding your own words in your own language at the appropriate parts of Shemoneh Esrei and any other time of day and night.
5 – Turn to Hashem throughout the day for big and small. “Don’t feel that you are bothering HaKadosh Baruch Hu too much. The more you become aware of HaKadosh Baruch Hu, the more successful you are; that is what Hashem desires!” (HaRav Avigdor Miller, Toras Avigdor, Parshas Lech-L’cha 5780)
As we say in Ashrei daily: “Karov Hashem l’chol kor’av–Hashem is close to all those who call out to Him.”
May we merit greater awareness, recognition, closeness, and salvation, b’ezras Hashem.
To access Audio, Video, and Archives of previous Tefilah segments, please visit www.WeeklyTefilahFocus.com.
You can direct any questions or comments to Eliezer Szrolovits at 917-551-0150.