06 Jul MATOS/MASEI
The laws of vows are discussed in the beginning of this week’s parashah, and it says, “One shouldn’t make his words insignificant. Whatever he promises, he should keep” (30:3). Rebbe Eizik of Kamarna zt’l writes that yachel also means to hope, as in the passuk “Strengthen your hearts, all those who hope [and trust in] Hashem” (Tehillim 31:25). According to this translation, Rebbe Eizik of Kamarna says, the passuk is teaching us a lesson in tefillah. Some people are afraid that their tefillos won’t be answered, and that their efforts to pray are chas veshalom in vain. The passuk says, one shouldn’t only hope that his tefillah will be answered; one should be certain that his prayers will be effective. One should approach tefillah with the conviction that whatever you ask for will be. The Kamarner adds, “Even if he just said the words without deveikus, it will be effective.” If we approach tefillah with this certainty, our appreciation for tefillah is enhanced. We will look forward to each opportunity to daven and we will put all of our concentration into every word. It is because people aren’t certain that their tefillos will help, that tefillah is undervalued and sometimes even disrespected. As the Gemara says, “Tefillah goes up to the highest worlds, and people disregard it” (Brachos 6). The truth is that tefillos aren’t always answered immediately. The Kamarna’s commentary was primarily referring to the tefillos of tzaddikim.
As he writes, “All tefillos are accepted before the G-d of the world, however sometimes, it takes a long time, and one endures heartache [before he sees that his tefillos are answered. But for tzaddikim it states] whatever they ask for, Hashem gives them immediately. And it is written, ‘Hashem does the will of those who fear Him.’ Their tefillah is effective immediately. A tzaddik decrees and Hashem immediately fulfills it and gives him what he requested…” Most of us aren’t on this level; we can’t guarantee that everyone will see immediate results after the tefillah. Nevertheless, there are many times when we see vividly that our tefillos are answered immediately. And if do we have to wait, and/or pray many times, it is still worthwhile, since every tefillah brings us closer to our goal. We should therefore approach every opportunity for tefillah with the conviction that all of our needs will be achieved through it. The Rokeach writes, “After the destruction of the Beis HaMikdash, Hakadosh Baruch Hu doesn’t give goodness to the Jewish nation without tefillah.” The Hafla’ah (Kesuvos 67) writes, “It is known to all those who believe in Hashem’s hashgachah that our parnassah and food supply, in galus, is because of tefillah.” He explains that when the Beis HaMikdash stood, parnassah came from the mizbeach. Indeed, the altar is called mizbeach because it was mezin (supplied food) for the world. Today, when there isn’t a Beis HaMikdash, tefillah fills the function of the mizbeach, and through tefillah, sustenance comes to the world. Rebbe Avraham Yehoshua Heshel of Apt, the Ohev Yisrael, zy’a, had a kollel in his beis medresh. Every month, on Rosh Chodesh, he would give the scholars a stipend, which would support them and their families for the upcoming month.
On one Rosh Chodesh morning, one of the students was davening Shemonah Esrei. He reached the brachah Shomei’a Tefillah (in this brachah, one can add personal requests) and he thought, “I don’t have to daven for parnassah since anyway, the rebbe is supporting me.” He completed the brachah Shma Koleinu without asking for parnassah. Later that day, all the yungerleit were waiting in line to receive their monthly stipend. When it was his turn, the rebbe ran out of money. “I will get some more,” the rebbe said. When the rebbe returned with more money, for some reason, this yungerman wasn’t in front of the line, he went to the back of the line and waited his turn. When his turn came, the rebbe said, “I’m sorry, there isn’t any money left.” The man was devastated: “What am I going to do? How am I supposed to live this month?” The rebbe replied, “Every month, Hashem gives me exactly the amount of money that I need to support the yungerleit of the kollel. If you didn’t receive your stipend, it is certainly from Heaven. Check your deeds; see if you can discover the source that caused this.” The man reviewed his deeds, and he remembered that he hadn’t davened for parnassah that day. He learned that even when one is supported by others, he will not receive if he does not daven for it. It is written “[Hashem] formed the mountains and created wind, and He tells people what they said” (Amus 4:13). Rebbe Yisrael of Ruzhin zy’a explained: A person shouldn’t say, “How can my words accomplish anything? They are only words; only wind.” The answer is, Hashem created mighty mountains, but the winds are even stronger. Winds can destroy the mountains. “this reveals to people the power of speech and tefillah.” In parashas Vayishlach, the Torah lists Yaakov Avinu’s twelve children, and concludes, “These are the children of Yaakov that were born to him in Padan Aram” (Bereishis 35:26). The Chizkuni asks: Most of the shevatim were born in Padan Aram, but not Binyamin. He was born in Beis Lechem.1 The Chizkuni answers, when Yosef was born, Rachel davened, “Hashem should grant me another child.” She prayed in Padan Aram for another child, so it is considered as though he was also born there. A poor person was watching the goings on in the post office. He saw someone give the teller a few coins, and the teller gave him a large box filled with gold. Another person came to the post office and also gave the teller a few coins.
He received a box filled with diamonds. “I didn’t know that it was so easy to become wealthy,” the poor man said to himself. “For a few coins, one can buy a box filled with jewelry!” He left the post office and collected some money until he had a few coins of his own. He placed the coins before the teller and said, “A box filled with diamonds please.” “Are you for real?” the teller asked him. “How do you expect to buy diamonds with these few coins?” “But I saw that you gave it to others for this price. Why won’t you sell it to me?” The teller explained, “Those people paid in full for their purchase, and now, they are only paying a few coins for the delivery.” The nimshal teaches us that although it appears that hishtadlus brings us parnassah, it isn’t the primary cause. Primarily, we receive parnassah from our tefillah, only we are obligated to do some worldly deed, to pick up the parnassah. As the Mesilas Yesharim (21) writes, “A person is obligated to do some hishtadlus for his parnassah, because this is what the Upper King decreed. It is like a tax that all mankind must pay and cannot escape… But it isn’t that the hishtadlus helps, only it is an obligation…” Hishtadlus can be compared to the few coins one pays to pick up the delivery.