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27 Cheshvan 5768 - November 8, 2007 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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Opinion & Comment
The Importance of Tefilloh in Our Day and Age — And Yitzchok Prayed . . .

Excerpted from a Collection of Commentaries from Otzros HaTefilloh by HaRav Avraham Nishri

There is Nothing without Prayer

A fundamental principle of creation is that nothing is given without prayer. "Now no tree of the field was yet on the earth, neither did any herb of the field yet grow, because Hashem G-d had not brought rain upon the earth, and there was no man to work the soil" (Bereishis 2:5).

Rashi comments: "And on the third day, where it is written: `Let the earth bring forth,' they [the plants] had not yet emerged, but they stood at the `entrance' of the ground until the sixth day. And why? Because He had not caused it to rain, because there was no man to work the soil, and no one recognized the benefit of rain. But when man came and understood that they were essential to the world, he prayed for them, and they fell, and the trees and the herbs sprouted."

This is a foundation of the entire creation. Nothing is given without prayer. It is indeed a novel concept and a great revelation in the matter of tefilloh, but when we look carefully at even the superficial level of the Torah's narratives, we clearly see this foundation.

The holy Ovos never achieved a thing without tefilloh. "And Avram said, `O Hashem G-d, what will You give me, since I am going childless'" (Ibid. 15:2), and, "But Sorai was barren; she had no child" (Ibid. 11:31). Hashem gave her a son only through tefilloh.

The same was true of Yitzchok and Rivkoh. "And Yitzchok prayed to Hashem opposite his wife because she was barren, and Hashem accepted his prayer, and Rivkoh his wife conceived" (Ibid. 25:21); he entreated Hashem very much.

Similarly, we find concerning Leah and Rochel, "And Hashem saw that Leah was hated, so He opened her womb; but Rochel was barren" (Ibid. 29:31). Rochel entreated Yaakov: "And Rochel envied her sister, and she said to Yaakov, `Give me children, and if not, I am dead'" (Ibid. 30:1). (Although Yaakov said, "Am I instead of G-d, Who has withheld from you the fruit of the womb?" [Ibid. 2], in any case we have sufficient proof from Rochel's assumption). Similarly, it is written: "And Rochel said, `G-d has judged me, and He has also hearkened to my voice and has given me a son'" (Ibid. 6). Without tefilloh they would not have attained anything.

In addition, we find a number of times that Yaakov prayed to Hashem, in the tribulations of Eisov, of Shechem, of Yosef, and of Binyamin.

The holy Ovos and Imahos surely had enough merit for salvation in their own merit. And yet despite this nothing came to them without tefilloh!

What greater proof is there than the promised redemption from Egypt, about which Hashem swore to Avrohom, Yitzchok, and Yaakov? And yet despite this it is said: "And they cried out, and their cry ascended to G-d from the labor. G-d heard their cry, and G-d remembered His covenant with Avrohom, with Yitzchok, and with Yaakov" (Shemos 2:23-24). Without tefilloh they would not have been redeemed.

Similarly, in the Sin of the Golden calf, the Sin of the Spies, and the rebellion of Korach, they were delivered only by means of tefilloh.

To our amazement, this law is implanted in the entire creation from the root of its formation. Everything stands at the "entrance" of the ground. Nothing sprouts and nothing is given, neither a material achievement nor spiritual achievement, until man comes and takes them from the ground. And with what does he take them? Only with tefilloh!

We have found that everything in the world was created for man. However, this is only the beginning of things, and the first assumption that man needs to know. He should recognize that it is incumbent upon him to pray for them, and only after his tefillos are they given to him in truth. Without tefillos he will not be given anything, he will not receive a thing. For this is a fundamental concept, nothing at all is given to a person, except that which he takes for himself. And with what? With tefilloh!

(Daas Torah Bereishis, Maran HaRav Yeruchom Levovitz zt'l of Mir)

He will call Me and then I shall answer, but not before he prays

"He will call Me and I shall answer him; I am with him in distress; I shall rescue him and I shall honor him" (Tehillim 91:16). This means that first he should call out to Hashem, and then He will answer him and rescue him from his distress, but not before he prays. By this means Hashem will honor him; this is the reason a man shall be honored.

Along these lines I would explain the following posuk as well: "And Yitzchok went forth to pray (losuach) in the field towards evening, and he lifted his eyes and saw, and behold, camels were approaching" (Bereishis 24:63). Rashi comments: "Losuach is an expression of prayer, as in (Tehillim 102:1): `He pours out his prayer (sichoh).'" The question is, what is the relevance of the point, "he lifted his eyes and saw, and behold, camels were approaching" to Yitzchok's prayer?

It is possible to explain in the following way. In fact, there is a perplexing point, for when Eliezer left to find a match for Yitzchok his journey was miraculously shortened (Rashi, v. 42), but on his return journey he experienced no miracle. Why not?

It seems in my humble estimation that because Yitzchok went out to pray for the servant's success in finding the appropriate match for him only at this juncture, therefore, HaKodosh Boruch Hu did not want to reveal his mate to him until he prayed for her. HaKodosh Boruch Hu desired his prayer. Therefore they were delayed on the journey and they did not experience any miraculous shortening of their journey. However, immediately after Yitzchok went out to pray in the field, he lifted his eyes and saw the camels approaching immediately after his prayer.

(Chasam Sofer, Parshas Chayei Soroh, Toras Moshe, 4)

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