Klal Yisrael has been davening for over six weeks for the safe and speedy return of the Jewish hostages in Gaza. Our davening has also been for the protection of all of Klal Yisrael, especially our soldiers in battle. So many communities have held Tehillim and tefillah gatherings. People who never davened before, have now started to daven. There’s true urgency to our tefillos. When will the hostages return? Will they return alive and well? How far will antisemitism be taken worldwide? We do not know what Hashem’s answer will be … or when we will receive it. But it’s important to realize that every tefillah is precious, treasured and needed. Dovid HaMelech says in Tehillim, “Simah dimasi venodecha, Put my tears in Your flask.” Rav Shimshon Dovid Pincus, zt”l explains that Hashem catches every tear from our prayers and counts each drop. Hashem saves each of the tears and takes them out when they’re needed to help us.
In our recent Torah portions, we see how the imahos (matriarchs) davened for many years to be blessed with children. Sarah and Rivkah were married for decades before their prayers were answered. The Gemara tells us that Hashem desires the prayers of the righteous, and even puts them in predicaments where they need to pray. In Parshas Vayeitzei, Yaakov marries Leah, then Rachel. Both were initially barren, as indicated in the pasuk, “vayiftach es rachmah, Hashem opened her womb.” Both davened for Hashem to perform a miracle and grant them children. While Leah lost her barrenness relatively quickly and had seven children in a span of about seven years, Rachel had to wait those seven years before she lost her barrenness and gave birth to her first child, Yosef. Why did Hashem give Leah children so quickly, but not so with her sister Rachel?
My brother-in-law, Rabbi Dovid Stengel, suggested the following insight: Lavan had two daughters, Leah and Rochel. Rivkah, Lavan’s sister, had two sons, Eisav and Yaakov. The talk on the street was that the oldest daughter Leah would marry Eisav, the older of the twins, and Rochel would marry Yaakov. Leah davened and cried to Hashem from when she was a little girl that she should not be required to marry the powerful, but wicked, Eisav. Leah davened that she should marry Yaakov and merit to be one of the matriarchs of Klal Yisrael. So Hashem granted Leah’s request for children soon after she married, since she had been davening for children for so many years! Rachel started her davening much later, so she had to wait seven years to reach the quantity of tefillah that Hashem wanted from her.
When my wife was in seminary in Eretz Yisrael, her teacher told the young women, “This year you will be going to many special places for tefillah: the Kosel, Kever Rochel and kivrei tzaddikim. Now is the time to daven not just for the present, but also for your future and for your future children and grandchildren. Daven not just for yourself, but for everyone. You never know how much tefillah you will need in your account. Start davening now and fill up your account, so you will have the ‘funds’ when you need to make a withdrawal from your account!” My wife said that those words made a profound impact on her approach to tefillah.
It’s important to note that things don’t always play out how we assume they will. For example, Rachel selflessly gave Leah the secret signs, which she had made up with Yaakov to identify her at the wedding ceremony, to save her beloved sister from embarrassment, since their devious father Lavan was substituting Leah for Rachel. One would assume that after such a selfless act, Rachel would have children easily! Yet the opposite occurred. Leah had seven children right away, while Rachel waited those seven years for her first child and later died giving birth to her second son, Binyamin.
Bottom line: things are often not how we expect them to be. The Navi tells us that Rachel died and is buried on the side of the road so she would be able to daven for her children, Klal Yisrael, as they would later pass by on their way into exile. These prayers of Rachel are what will eventually bring the ultimate geula (redemption)!
Each perek of Tehillim we are now saying, is an arsenal of spiritual safety. We may not see it, but we’re creating a forcefield of protection for the IDF soldiers and for Klal Yisrael. All of our tefillos are needed! Each prayer, each tear helps fill up a massive reservoir in heaven. We just know that they will be used—at the right place, at the right time. Each one counts!
Rabbi Baruch Bodenheim is the associate rosh yeshiva of Passaic Torah Institute (PTI)/Yeshiva Ner Boruch. Rabbi Bodenheim can be reached at [email protected]. For more info about PTI and its Torah classes, visit www.pti.shulcloud.com