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Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Believing your prayers will be answered

Daf Yomi Sotah 37

Yitzchak and Rivkah were barren for many years.  Finally, they both davened for a child, and were blessed with the twins, Yaakov and Esav.  Our Sages explain that Yitzchak’s prayers were answered, because “the prayers of a righteous person, whose parents were also righteous are more powerful than the prayers of one who is righteous but has wicked parents,” as was the case with Rivkah.

Why would that be?  Wouldn’t you think that Rivkah, who had overcome the paganism of her parents should be better placed before G-d?

When Israel was standing at the edge of the Red Sea, Moshe was praying at length.  The Holy One blessed be He said to him, “My loved ones are drowning in the sea and you are praying at length before Me?!”
Moshe replied, “Master of the universe, what have I the power to do?”
Hashem responded, “Tell the Children of Israel that they should travel!  And as for you, lift up your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea.”

Why does Hashem tell Moshe that His loved ones, the Israelites, are drowning in the sea?  They weren’t in the sea; they were on the seashore, trying to figure out what to do next!  Why does Hashem make it sound like they are already drowning?

Moshe was praying to the Almighty for salvation.  The problem was, though, in his own mind their fate was already sealed.  It was a foregone conclusion.  All he could picture at that moment was the nation of Israel drowning in the Red Sea, as the Egyptian armies grew ever nearer.  And so, as he davens, as he communicates with Hashem, all he “hears” is that they are already drowning.  The little voice inside says: there’s no hope; there’s no point praying; we’re doomed.

And then G-d bellows: Stop wallowing in your pitiful sorrow.  I’ve told you I will redeem them from Egypt.  And I shall keep My promise.  Now your job is to forge ahead.  Lo and behold, Moshe stops praying and the Israelites are still standing there.  Not drowning.  As alive as ever.  And ready to move.  The problem wasn’t with the Israelites.  The problem wasn’t with G-d.   The problem was with Moshe who had despaired.  He saw no way out and it was with that attitude that he was communicating with G-d.

When you daven to Hashem, don’t assume the worst outcome.  Assume the best outcome.  The Almighty can do anything.  He can turn things around.  He has the power to heal.  He has the power to provide abundant parnassah (livelihood).  He has the power to restore relationships.  He has the power to reignite your kids’ hearts to return to the right path. 

If, when you pray, all you picture is the worst, you render your prayers impotent.  You have to believe that Hashem will answer.  And then indeed He will answer.  Your faith in Heaven is the key to unlocking the blessing.   As long as you fail to believe that your prayers will be answered, they probably won’t be answered.  Once you turn around your beliefs to trust in Hashem that you will pass through the sea on dry land – as impossible as that sounds – He can begin to bring miracles into your life.

That’s why Yitzchak’s prayers were more effective than Rivkah’s.  He had grown up in a house of miracles.  When his parents prayed, Heaven answered.  And so Yitzchak went to pray with the attitude that his prayers would be answered.   Rivkah, who had grown up surrounded by wickedness, was much more cynical in her approach to prayer.  She didn’t go into her prayer session with the expectation that Heaven would most certainly answer her.

Never assume the worst.  Hashem is all-powerful and able to turn everything around in an instant.  Pray with positive energy, expecting miracles in your life.  May you only picture the best possible outcomes and may your prayers be answered immediately!

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