Compiled from the lectures of HaRav Chaim Pinchas
Mitzvos, Miracles and Prayers
Part III (Final Part)
In the first part, HaRav Scheinberg explained that when we
put on tefillin we are supposed to think about what
Hashem did for us in taking us out of Mitzrayim. The Ramban
teaches us at the end of Bo that, "As a result of the
tremendous open miracles, a person will acknowledge concealed
miracles -- for they are the fundamental basis for the whole
of Torah. A person has no share in the Torah of Moshe
Rabbeinu until he believes that all things and every
occurrence, all of them, are miracles; that they do not
operate by any natural or automatic process, either for the
masses or for the individual."
In the second part, HaRav Scheinberg explained that even
obvious things can be hidden in that we do not properly see
them. Without siyata deShmaya our eyes are incapable
of seeing even the most blatant examples of Hashem's presence
in the world. Mitzvas like tefillin, that are called
"os", are to draw our attention and help us see that
Hashem has ultimate power.
"I am the Lord -- your G-d, who upraised you from the Land of
Egypt; open wide your mouth and I will fill it." (Pesukei
Dezimroh; Tehillim 81:11)
Before the Redemption of Klal Yisroel, Egypt led the
world in power and wealth. HaKodosh Boruch Hu
miraculously ended our bondage and all its treasures were
given to us. Besides all this, we came out of Egypt with
something more valuable; the knowledge of Hashem's mastery
over the world and a mitzvah to always remember it;
(Devorim 16:3) ". . . you shall remember the day when
you came out of the land of Egypt all the days of your
This commandment integrates our past, present and future. The
gemora in Brochos (4b) asks, "Who is a ben
Olam Habo?" That is, who is privileged to be so much at
home in Olam Habo as if he were a son; a welcome
member of the family. The surprisingly modest answer is: the
one who, immediately after completing the brochoh of
Go'al Yisroel begins the Shemoneh Esrei of his
In order to understand how such a seemingly simple act
guarantees such a great reward, Rabbeinu Yonah zt"l
gives several explanations. One is, "because, when the
geulah from Egypt is mentioned, and prayer immediately
follows, one indicates through his prayers that he trusts in
Hashem since he asks Him for his needs. For one who does not
trust in Hashem will not ask anything of Him."
Something special happened to Klal Yisroel when we
were taken out of Egypt -- for then, as a nation, we became
believers in Hashem. Rabbeinu Yonah continues, "When Klal
Yisroel saw the miracles and wonders that the Creator did
for them, in contradiction to `natural' law, they believed in
Him . . . Now, when we mention that Redemption by which our
forefathers became believers in Hashem -- and He saved them --
and we pray immediately afterwards, this reveals that we too
trust in Him. Then He shall answer us as He answered Klal
Yisroel -- because they believed in Him. This is why we
mention that geulah and pray immediately.
Bitochon is fundamental to yirah and
emunoh, and because of it we merit life in Olam
We have an obligation to pray -- morning, afternoon and
night. However, these regularly scheduled prayers are just
the beginning. To change "nature" requires more than
davening on time, with a minyan and with proper
concentration. Simply keeping up the routine will not produce
the prayers that Hashem truly desires -- prayers that will
bring forth miracles, the true teva of the world.
Hence, recalling the miracles of Egypt is a necessary prelude
to our prayers. We need to constantly remind ourselves that
Hashem is our G-d. He is the One and Only Absolute Ruler,
Who did miracles then and will perform miracles for us too,
according to our faith and prayers. Recalling the miracles of
Egypt is the key. However, only our hearts, with honest
prayer and genuine bitochon in Hashem, can arouse
Hashem's middoh of compassion to perform miracles.
This is evident from the gemora (Yevomos 64a) which
states that two of our great forefathers, Avrohom and
Yitzchok, could not at first father children. The
gemora asks why, and answers, "Because HaKodosh
Boruch Hu desires the prayers of the tzadikim."
Hashem, so to speak, yearns for the prayers of the
tzadikim. He does not simply wait for prayers to
routinely ascend at their scheduled times, but He desires
The gemora continues to explain how the prayers of
tzadikim can "switch the middos of HaKodosh
Boruch Hu from the midda of anger to the
midda of compassion."
The Ovos with their prayers were worthy of miraculous
changes. Originally their bodies were not capable of bearing
children. Nonetheless Hashem, for their sake and in the merit
of their prayers, changed "nature." Hashem had decreed that
their prayers were to be the key to allow them to be able to
conceive. The miraculous was waiting to happen in accordance
with their heartfelt desire -- their prayers -- to see it
A tzaddik, through his earnest appeals to Hashem, can
thus turn din into mercy. And therefore Hashem desires
the prayers of the tzaddikim. With their unwavering
emunah and bitochon, they pray that the
camouflage of nature and its "laws" be removed. They can
properly ask for the miracles that Hashem is willing to
bestow upon them, and so Hashem places them in situations
that require miracles -- the stimulus for genuine prayers.
The whole of Creation is a continuous series of hidden and
open miracles. The privilege of actually seeing them depends
on emunah and on prayer.
Everyone has a time of need and if we pay proper attention,
we can notice that the words of our prayers guide us in how
we should respond. The first brochoh of Shemoneh
Esrei mentions three expressions that refer to Hashem:
`Ozeir' -- our Helper, `Moshi'a' -- our Savior,
and `Mogen' -- our Shield. Then we conclude `Mogen
Avrohom' -- the Shield of Avrohom.
The Vilna Gaon zt"l (Siddur HaGra, Avnei Eliyohu)
explains that these three expressions correspond to three
approaches to bitochon which result in three
manifestations of siyata deShmaya; Divine salvation
and intervention in our lives.
"First [Ozer] that a person does something and
Hashem helps him." A practical attempt to reach a goal is
made. If the outcome is successful according to the original
desire, it is because Hashem responded with assistance. And
so Hashem is referred to as Helper.
"Second, [Moshi'a] that nothing at all is done, for
he has faith in Hashem alone, that Hashem will save him
without any human actions or strategies." Here, no
attempt is made by the person to accomplish anything. If
Hashem responds, it is because He has chosen to rescue the
person. And so Hashem is called Savior.
The third highest level, was the practice of Avrohom Ovinu,
as the Gaon continues, "Avrohom Ovinu trusted in Hashem to
perfection. He placed himself in many dangers for the sake of
Hashem Yisborach's honor. Therefore, he reached the
level of `I will shield you, to save you from all the dangers
-- that nothing at all will have power over you.'
Therefore the [brochoh] concludes, `Mogen
Avrohom.' It does not say Ozer or Moshi'a,
but rather Mogen because of his [Avrohom's] great
bitochon in Hashem."
This highest level requires complete devotion and self-
sacrifice, with no belief in natural law. Perfect faith that
Hashem is the one true, sure, unchangeable fact of existence;
that nothing else has any stable, constant reality, because
everything is subject to the Will of the Creator.
As lofty as this may seem, we must strive to reach this
perfection, for the Vilna Gaon in Mishlei (22:19)
gives us a remarkable insight regarding bitochon: "The
primary bestowal of the Torah to Klal Yisroel is that
they should place their trust in Hashem."
In other words, the goal and purpose of Torah is to forge in
our hearts a pure, persistent faith and trust in Hashem.
Learning Torah and the performance of its mitzvas have the
power to bring us closer to Hashem. The more mitzvas we do,
the more Torah we learn, the more we will come to know Hashem
and trust Him. According to the quality of our Torah, its
depth and honesty, so will be the degree of our faith in
Similarly, the Maharal of Prague zt"l (Nesivos
Olom; Nesiv Emunah) writes, " The one who believes, gives
himself completely over to Hashem Yisborach. He trusts
in Him and does not turn aside from Hashem Yisborach
at all -- in any way. For this is the way of emunah --
total attachment to Hashem Yisborach. Therefore, he
has a deveikus to Hashem Yisborach through
emunah." This is achieved through Torah, for there is
no greater bonding agent to HaKodosh Boruch Hu than
Emunah and bitochon must, by definition, exist
under all circumstances. Even in the most hopeless of all
situations, even under the threat of death, we must never
despair. We turn to Hashem. We gather together in the beis
knesses or beis medrash, open the Aron HaKodosh
and pour out our hearts to our Creator that He should
save us -- Ovinu Malkeinu -- because we know He can.
We have faith that Hashem alone can and will help us and we,
on our own, are helpless.
If we have faith in ourselves, in our own might, strength and
intelligence; this is neither emunah nor
bitochon. The Maharal zt"l just taught us that
faith means that we shall not turn away from Hashem at any
time, for any reason. The bond must be complete and flawless.
As the Maharal concludes, "For when a person believes in
Hashem Yisborach with all his heart and cleaves to Him
and does not turn from Him -- this is ultimate perfection,
for all the mitzvas are in order that a person should cleave
Our faith in Hashem is not measured by how loudly we cry out
to Him in the midst of distress and turmoil. Hashem can
definitely help when we cry out to Him for help. But this is
not the test.
Our obligation is to never turn from Him -- whatever the
situation, whether it is going our way or not. Whatever the
case, we must always cleave to our Creator. If we do so, we
will be able to receive all the Divine blessings that Hashem
is prepared to bestow upon us. Through emunah and
bitochon our lives will be filled with the experience
and appreciation of Hashem's blessings.
Hashem expects us to believe and experience that He alone is
the One true reality. Likewise, He has given us the Torah and
its mitzvas as a means to achieve it. Just because the world
seems to behave according to a certain routine in no way
determines that it must continue forever in the same manner.
Everything is subject to the Will of HaKodosh Boruch Hu.
"Natural laws" are not permanent, invariable and
constant, especially when ruchniyus is concerned. The
mitzvah of tefillin is just one example of the many
mitzvas that Hashem has given us to help us remember this.
The existence of Klal Yisroel, Hashem's
representatives of ruchniyus in this world, depends
upon our faith in Hashem and our obedience to His Torah.
Consequently, our existence throughout history is beyond
natural explanation. The miracles of Egypt were done for our
sake -- so that we will recall them and understand their
message each day. They were great lessons for us to remember
and so remind ourselves that our presence in the world is
linked to the Torah and its commandments. There is no other
avenue for success.
All material on this site is copyrighted and its use is restricted.
Click here for conditions of use.