Please hear my prayer

Please hear my prayer

(Tehillim 39:13)

By Rabbanith Ruth Menashe

Rabbanith Ruth Menashe - jewish women's prayersEvery single person in the world lacks something. In fact, the world was created in such a way that there is no such thing as a human being who has everything. Some long for health, others wish they had a slightly greater (or a much larger) income, there are those who wait to find their right match, while others yearn for children. “If I only had….” The combinations are endless.

Just like a loving father – indeed, even more than a loving father — our Merciful Father in Heaven wants to bestow only good upon us. He created the world for our own pleasure and enjoyment and places us here to give us an abundance of good. In view of this, how can we explain and understand the apparent contradiction of a Father who purposely deprives his beloved child? How can such action possibly stem from deep love?  Why is there pain and suffering? Why is it that we all lack something?

The following parable will perhaps give us an answer to some of the questions above. A king called his son who lived away from home and told him that he would like to discuss his yearly allowance. The king, with his unlimited funds, told his son that he would give him 365 gold coins per year, an extraordinary amount of money. However, there was one condition attached – the son would need to come to the palace every day to collect his golden coin. The king could have easily given a bag full of 365 gold coins to his son but he wanted, more than anything else, to see his beloved son daily. He longed to spend time together with him and deepen their relationship.

G-d, the King of all kings, wanted to give us everything we need, but He wants us, His children, to have a close connection with Him. He wants us to build a close bond with Him. We too, have to visit Him daily and make our requests.

When we examine the punishment of the Nahash (serpent), we see the exact opposite. Hashem cursed the serpent: “Cursed you are… upon your belly you shall go, and you shall eat dust all the days of your life.” One may pose the following question: If dust, which is the food that the snake should eat is found everywhere, isn’t this curse really a blessing? Its food is found in abundance wherever it goes! Nevertheless, it is not a blessing but is, indeed, a curse. The snake, having all its needs fulfilled, is deprived of building any connection or relationship with Hashem. This is virtual excommunication by G-d.

When G-d created the world, He created Adam and Eve only after the entire Creation was complete. The light, the sea and the earth, the trees and flowers, the sun, moon and stars and the animals were all created and in place. Finally, on the sixth day, He created Adam and brought him into a world that was complete and prepared for his use. However, when we read further (Bereshith 2:5) we find a seemingly contradictory verse. It says: “All the trees of the field were not yet on the earth and the grass of the field had not yet sprouted.” Didn’t we read earlier (Bereshith 1:12) that all the trees, herbs and vegetation had already come forth?

Our Rabbis of blessed memory explain that the Creator did, indeed, create all the trees, herbs and vegetation, but they all remained beneath the surface of the earth; they did not break through the ground. Why is that? “Because G-d did not bring rain, and there was no man to work the soil” (Bereshith 2:5). In other words, G-d had prepared for all of Adam’s needs, as a loving father would. He created everything that Adam would need or wish to use and had them waiting for his arrival. However, since the vegetation was still under the surface, Adam understood the need for rain and realized that the only way to bring it was through prayer.

We must learn from this a very important concept: just as G-d prepared for all of Adam’s needs in this world, so too, G-d has prepared the needs of all of us in this world. However, in order to receive them we must use the tool that G-d has given us in order to make the connection with Him that He desires. That tool is our power of speech which must be used in the form of ardent Tefillah (prayer).

One of the main purposes of Tefillah is to create a close relationship with Hashem. Just like in any interpersonal relationship, the element of communication is something that creates closeness and the absence of it leads to a distant relationship, perhaps even to its breakdown, so too, regular and constant communication with G-d, in the form of prayer, is what cements the closeness and quality of the relationship.

Very often, women feel overwhelmed and overburdened by the seemingly unending daily chores, combined with the demands of raising one’s children, for whom one must be on call twenty four hours a day, especially if they also carry the burden of bringing income into the home. Finding time to pray may therefore seem like a luxury. But we must not make that mistake. It is precisely because we set aside time from our arduous schedule, that gives us the energy we feel we lack. This is what gives us the strength and ability to be better wives, mothers and people. And more importantly, as I have mentioned, it cements the bond with Hashem, as a result of which, He gives us the blessings that He has kept in store for us.

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