Bergenfield resident Michael Goldsmith couldn’t stop thinking about the many cholim in our community who are in great need of a refuah. Wondering what he could do for them, he was struck by inspiration and a yom iyun was born.
Scheduled for this Thursday, November 4, everyone was invited to participate in a yom tefillah dedicated to the many cholim in our area. It was a day in which participants were encouraged to learn about the power of tefillah, especially tefillah b’tzibur.
“Sometimes when you start to notice that things are not doing well in your community, and there are a lot of people who need our tefillot, that’s when you come together.”
The date picked for this event, Erev Rosh Chodesh Kislev, was no coincidence, Michael explained. “It’s also known as Yom Kippur Katan. And so a day of tefillah on Yom Kippur Katan can change the g’zar din just as it can on Yom Kippur.”
Wishing to make it as easy as possible, with involvement at every level, “without leaving anybody out and without focusing on anybody in particular,” he felt a yom iyun could accomplish just that, allowing everyone from children to adults to join in on this mitzvah.
Michael reached out to the heads of the local schools and they all agreed it was a good idea to dedicate a portion of the school day to learn about the impact of prayer and that it can help children better understand the power of their tefillot.
In the evening, all the congregants from area shuls were encouraged to join in a community-wide Zoom scheduled for 8 p.m. Tehillim would be recited, allowing for a tefillah b’tzibur and not just each shul on its own, and all the congregants would know that their cholim were being represented b’toch she’ar cholei Yisrael and b’toch tzibur.
From a recent Daf Yomi, the Gemara teaches us that when an illness strikes, a community should come together to daven and ask Hashem to end it soon. “There are cholim all around us. Some people I know, some that people don’t know. I felt like we, as a community, could be doing more and we need to unite as a community to do more.”
Michael wanted the community to know that the importance of davening in a tzibur should not be underestimated and that it is important to come together to provide comfort through prayer. “The גמרא tells us תפילה בציבור definitely has the power to have our תפילות heard by Hashem. While that is all we can do, we can hope for our prayers to be answered. This is best accomplished when those requiring תפילה on their behalf become צרכי ציבור—as stated famously “כל ישראל ערבים זה לזה.”
Michael is no stranger to the power of prayer from a tzibur. As the recipient of many tefillot when he fought his own battle against COVID, his wife Elana Goldsmith shared, “We’ve seen firsthand what communal tefillah can do to save a person’s life. So whether people in the community know of specific cases or not, when a community comes together to daven on behalf of those we know who are sick and those we might not know who are sick, it has an impact.”
By Ronit Mershon