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THE ART OF BEING DEPENDENT ON G-D
Is it safe to leave my house with all the antisemitism in the atmosphere? Can I use public transportation? Can I wear a Kippah? Should my children walk in the streets? Is my mezuzah a red flag?
G-d answered these questions, אַל־תִּֽירְאִי֙ תּוֹלַ֣עַת יַֽעֲקֹ֔ב (Yeshayahu 41; 14) Don’t fear, worm of Yaakov! G-d calls us a worm! And He does not want us to be afraid!? If I were a lion, I would not fear! But if I am a worm (?), why should I not fear?
Everything we relied on for safety fell apart! State of Israel? Uncle Sam? IDF? Now we have Turkey, who is the second most powerful army in NATO after the USA saying that Netanyahu is like Hitler, saying that Israel’s end is near, and that we are on our way out! Iran, Hizballah, Russia, South America… and the list doesn’t end! The world is buying into the craziness and stupidity of Abu Mazen, that the Palestinians were the same Canaanites who lived in Israel before the Jews conquered the Land under the leadership of Yehoshua Ben Nun, after the Exodus from Egyptian slavery. And that the Jewish Nation that conquered the Land became extinct, and the Zionists and the Jewish People of today are just a “British-Holland Colony”, and we have nothing to do with the original Jewish People. And that the Zionists partnered with the Nazis during the Holocaust to get the Jews to leave Europe to come to Israel, and that even though the Holocaust did happen, there were “just” a few hundred thousand Jews who died, and not 6 million, a number that the Zionists made up. And that in the gas chambers the Germans did not kill Jews, but they just burnt dead bodies, so that diseases wouldn’t spread. And that the Jews are guilty for the Holocaust, and that Hitler killed the Jews not because he was an antisemite, but because the Jews lend money to one another without charging interest, but to their fellow Germans, they lend only with interest. And that antisemitism does not exist; it is just a national response over the generations by the neighbors of the Jews , because the Jews make all the money. And that the people at the party who were shot on Oct. 7, were shot because they were “settlers”, or they were shot by IDF helicopters.
The world is believing these lies of Abu Mazen, and many believe that he should take over Gaza after the war, despite the fact that he fully supports the attacks of Oct. 7. In his eyes, the attacks were totally legitimate! He sides with Hamas, even though Hamas cut off his finger and kicked him and the PLO out of Gaza! But anyone who is an enemy of Israel is Abu Mazen’s friend!
Even though we have the best – and most dedicated – soldiers in the world, G-d keeps showing us that we can never actually win – we can’t feel safe and calm and serene until Mashiach, without relying on Him, and only Him! We are just a little worm! And G-d is telling His little worm, “Yaakov, don’t fear!”
The worm can’t run away with its legs. It can’t fight with its hands. All it can do is one thing! Nibble! Yaakov, use your mouth, not your hands! Daven! Pray! Learn Torah! And keep nibbling till you break through the Evil Decrees! Through the Galut! A lion can’t take down a cedar tree… but a worm can nibble its way through it!
All this brings us to an important philosophical question on the whole concept of prayer: We all have difficulties that we wish we did not have! We are told that everything that G-d does is for the highest good, and the very best for us! So why pray?
It’s simple. I have a lot of Taavot, a lot of desires. I am sure you do, too. But G-d has one desire! Not steak! Not a fancy car or home! Not even a korban! All G-d desires, all He has a Taava for is for our prayers! מפני שהקב”ה מתאוה לתפלתן של צדיקים(Yevamot 64a) That is why G-d gives pain and suffering, because He desires that we pray out to Him! Even though the pain and suffering were all for the highest good, but there is no higher good than prayer! Once you pray, G-d will do magic and give you a sweeter, higher good! It is hard to explain, because G-d is hard to explain, because of our limited understanding. For example. We all agree, that G-d can stick an elephant through a pin hole. The question is, just, how He will do it. Will He shrink the elephant, or will He enlarge the pinhole! But those two options are what humans think, from their limited perception of G-d’s abilities. For G-d, He can just as easily keep the elephant at its size, and the pinhole at its size, and put the elephant through the pinhole!! Just as He can take a Nation through the sea, and put our Patriarch through the fires of Ur Kasdim! For G-d, 2+2, does not equal 4, as He can put an Aron Hakodesh in the Holy of Holies, and it won’t take up any space!
So why does G-d make us go through hard times? On a personal level, or on a national level?
The only way to explain this is – imagine a carpenter, who cuts wood to size for kitchens, bookshelves, frames, closets. You take away his saw, that costs him 25 dollars, and you give him, instead, a diamond saw, that is used by gem cutters, that costs much more than that. He starts to complain, telling you, that he needs his carpenter’s saw, because that is the only way he can do what his job requires of him!
Your Neshama was sent here for a reason. Our Nation is on a journey, on a mission. The only thing that will help your Neshama reach its purpose in this world, the only thing that will bring us further on our journey as a nation is the suffering that you have in your life, and the pain our Nation goes through!
We can try surviving by hiding in America, or by relying on the State of Israel. That is all relying on the “Hands” of Esav! But G-d wants us to stop that now! He wants us to rely on our Nibbling, on the “Kol” Yaakov, on prayers! The faster we get this, the faster we will be safe! We have been using the wrong tools; we have been using our “hands”, something that is Esav’s tools! Yaakov’s tools, his sword and bow and arrow, are his prayers! (Onkelos Bereshit 48; 22) All the countries, the wealth, the serenity, the beautiful luscious green lands of Esav that he has until now, he received from G-d from the merit of just two tears, that he shed when he prayed! He prayed that he also receive some sort of blessings from his father Yitzhak! (Tanhuma Kedoshim 15;Yalkut Shimoni 76; Midrash Sechel Tov Bereshit 27) וַיַּ֨עַן יִצְחָ֜ק וַיֹּ֣אמֶר לְעֵשָׂ֗ו … וּלְכָ֣ה אֵפ֔וֹא מָ֥ה אֶֽעֱשֶׂ֖ה בְּנִֽי And Yitzhak answered, and he said to Esav, … to you, Esav, what can I do, my son? I gave all the blessings to your brother Yaakov! וַיֹּ֨אמֶר עֵשָׂ֜ו אֶל־אָבִ֗יו הַֽבְרָכָ֨ה אַחַ֤ת הִֽוא־לְךָ֙ אָבִ֔י בָּרֲכֵ֥נִי גַם־אָ֖נִי אָבִ֑י וַיִּשָּׂ֥א עֵשָׂ֛ו קֹל֖וֹ וַיֵּֽבְךְּ And Esav said to his father, There is only one blessing you have, my father? And Esav lifted his voice, and he cried!!! וַיַּ֛עַן יִצְחָ֥ק אָבִ֖יו וַיֹּ֣אמֶר אֵלָ֑יו הִנֵּ֞ה מִשְׁמַנֵּ֤י הָאָ֙רֶץ֙ יִהְיֶ֣ה מֽוֹשָׁבֶ֔ךָ וּמִטַּ֥ל הַשָּׁמַ֖יִם מֵעָֽל And Yitzhak his father answered him and said to him: From the fat of the land, will be your dwelling place, and from the dew of the heavens from above!
If that is how powerful prayer is, that it can give Esav so, so much, then why do we, Yaakov, keep falling back on our hands!? Everyone is supporting the IDF, and they should; but who is supporting today during the war, the Yeshivot, the Kollelim, the Bet Yaakov?! Those are not any less our heroes!!!! All we have to do is start believing in G-d and calling out to Him; then, הקדוש ברוך הוא מצלינו מידם. Hashem will save us from their hands!
The problem is that we don’t call out to G-d, recognizing and admitting that we have nothing to rely on, except Him! קָר֣וֹב יְ֭קֹוָק לְכָל־קֹרְאָ֑יו לְכֹ֤ל אֲשֶׁ֖ר יִקְרָאֻ֣הוּ בֶאֱמֶֽת: Hashem is close to all that call Him! To all that call Him in truth! What does it mean, to call G-d in truth? It means, that you have nothing else to rely on, on a national level, or on a personal level! Not on the IDF, State of Israel, Uncle Sam, or the community you are a part of. Not on the healthcare systems, not your financial anchor, not your schools to educate your children, not your army or police force to protect you! For He is העונה לעמו ישרא-ל בעת שועם אליו, He answers His nation Yisrael’s prayer, when they cry out to Him!
The problem is that we think that we don’t have enough merit to pray! We think that G-d only answers the prayers of the Tzaddikim! King David tells us No! Hashem is close to all those who call out to Him! Even the wicked! Even those who don’t have merit! לְכָל־קֹרְאָ֑יו !
אמר דוד רבונו של עולם אפילו רשע שבישראל, כשיבא לקרוא לפניך, ענה אותו מיד, שלא יאמרו אומות העולם כל הפנים שוות, אמר ליה הקדוש ברוך הוא חייך עד שלא יקראני עניתיו King David told G-d, “Answer all those who pray to you, even the prayers of the wicked! So that the gentiles don’t say, Look! We pray to our gods and we are not answered, and this Jew prays to his G-d, and his G-d doesn’t answer him! What a Hillul Hashem! G-d! Answer anyone and everyone’s prayer! And G-d said, Let them call me, and I will answer!!!(Midrash Tehillim Mizmor 4) G-d even answered the prayer of Esav, to have some part of the blessings of Avraham and Yitzhak!
Here is a crazy story I heard from R’ Yaakov Shemesh, a story he heard from the manager of an Ultra-Orthodox funeral home in New Jersey. It all started when the Goldman family received a phone call from their mother’s nursing home. “Hi! You finally answer the phone! For a week we have been trying to reach one of the members of your family, but no one has answered! Sorry to break you the news! Your mother passed away a week ago, and she is here, waiting to be buried!
The Goldmans felt horrible! Exactly ten days ago, they visited their mother and she was fine! Now they needed to bury the mother they loved so much, and they were a week late! They quickly arranged for a fast but respectable funeral. The whole ceremony was an hour, they rushed it as fast as they could, and Goldman family went on to the Shiva, with their ripped shirts.
At the end of the Shiva, Tzippy gets a phone call… She picks up her phone, and she sees its her mother’s phone calling her!? She answers the phone, and it’s her mother!!! “Tzippy! You forgot about me? It’s your mother!” White as a ghost, Tzippy hangs up the phone, wondering how the Anger of Death called from her mother’s phone with her mother’s voice!
A minute later, Mindi’s phone rang! “Mindi! No one is answering my phone! I am here in the nursing home for ten days, and no one is coming to visit me! All my kids forgot me?” The whole family, in their ripped shirts, went running to their mother’s room in the old age home, and she was right there! Sitting in her chair, like they saw her last!
They said to her, “Mommy! We thought you are dead!” She laughed and said, “I didn’t die! My roommate died!” They could not believe the mistake! They buried and mourned their mother’s roommate! Now, they needed to explain this to the deceased roommate’s children!
They called the children of the roommate, and the woman’s daughter answered. They said, “We are calling from the Nursing Home of your mom!” The woman answered on the other end of the line. “Didn’t I tell you to stop calling me!! I know my mother wants an ultra-orthodox burial! I know that she has been praying for this from this Tehillim that she wants a Jewish burial, and that she should be mourned and that they should say Kaddish for her! Well, guess what! We, her children, are not interested! We don’t believe in the whole religion thing, in the World to Come, in burial, in shiva, in ripping shirts, or in saying Kaddish! We told her a million times, we will burn her body and put her ashes in a jar and put it on top of the television! Her prayer, her Tehillim, her prayers will never help her!
Oh, my Gosh! G-d answered her prayers!!!! She had the funeral, the ripped shirts, the kosher burial, the kaddish and lots of Mishnayot learned, to top it off, for her Neshama! She knew that no one can bury her, no one can help her, except G-d!
There comes a time, when we are powerless. The greatest fear of Man, is who will take care of him, when he can’t take care of himself! But G-d is never powerless! He never runs on low! אתה גבור לעולם ה’ . He is גבור לנצח !
When Yaaov had no material gifts to offer to Rachel in marriage, because Elifaz his nephew took all of his possessions and left him only with his walking-stick((כִּ֣י בְמַקְלִ֗י עָבַ֙רְתִּי֙ אֶת־הַיַּרְדֵּ֣ן הַזֶּ֔ה, he made a prayer! אֶשָּׂ֣א עֵ֭ינַי אֶל־הֶהָרִ֑ים מֵ֝אַ֗יִן יָבֹ֥א עֶזְרִֽי:
I lifted my eyes to my parents (הורים), thinking how Eliezer came with great wealth to get Rivka for Yitzhak, and I have nothing for Rachel! Where will my עזר כנגדי, my wife, come from?! How will I start the Jewish Nation, with the twelve tribes?!? But then he said, עֶ֭זְרִי מֵעִ֣ם יְקֹוָ֑ק עֹ֝שֵׂ֗ה שָׁמַ֥יִם וָאָֽרֶץ: My help is from Hashem!!! I don’t need anything else to save me, but G-d, Himself!!!