A Pure Plea| January 24, 2023
The Rav said that the lesson of the story is that Hashem answers a heartfelt tefillah
“And you should watch over the matzos…” (Shemos 12:17)
The sefer Talelei Oros brings a chassidishe maaseh that was repeated to the Brisker Rav.
There was a rebbe who was baking matzos, careful to incorporate all kinds of hiddurim. Alongside him was a simple Jew also baking his matzos. (This wasn’t a modern matzah bakery, rather a public facility where people could come and use the oven.) The simple Jew felt inadequate; all he knew how to do was to mix the flour and water, roll the dough and bake it. He started to cry and the rebbe heard him say, “HaKadosh Baruch Hu, I only know how to make regular matzos. Please, can You make sure that I get the most mehudar matzos possible?”
Then this simple Yid put his matzos into the oven. (Rav Yisrael Reisman, Shiurim al Chumash)
Our neighborhood kollel was making a siyum haShas, and the yungeleit and their families were invited to a beautiful evening in a catered hall replete with music and singing.
Many chashuve talmidei chachamim stood up and spoke about the glory of the evening, and the tremendous accomplishments of each avreich in the kollel.
Sitting on the women’s side, I felt myself being pulled in by the power of the speakers’ words, feeling pride in being part of this.
The rebbe, hearing this Yid’s plea, came over to the man and he said, “Reb Yid, I will trade my matzos for yours. I want your matzos. Your tefillah has given your matzos the ultimate enhancement!” And the rebbe traded his matzos for the Jew’s simple ones.
Suddenly Yitzi tapped me on the shoulder. “Look,” he motioned to a corner near the mechitzah. “Reuvy is crying.”
Our neighbor Reuvy was in Yitzi’s class. A socially awkward kid, he was often the victim of bullying. Plus, he struggled with ADHD, and he spent more time in the principal’s office than in the classroom. Our boys knew to watch out for him and help him out when needed.
“Did anyone do anything to make him cry?” I asked. Reuvy was super sensitive, and something as simple as someone accidentally shoving his chair could elicit waterworks.
“I don’t know!” Yitzi’s eyes were wide with concern. “I just saw him crying over there!”
I looked for Michal, his mother, and leaned over to tap her on the shoulder.
“Reuvy is crying,” I whispered.
I watched concern spread across her face as she wrenched herself out of the moment and into mommy mode. She pushed her chair back and headed to Reuvy.
This is a chassidishe maaseh whose intention is to show that the intent you put into the matzos is really what makes them special. When it was told over to the Brisker Rav, though, he looked at it from another angle. The Rav said that the lesson of the story is that Hashem answers a heartfelt tefillah. This Yid davened that he should have matzos mehudaros, and Hashem sent him the rebbe’s own matzos.
Look at the power of tefillah.
Just then the speaker finished, and applause filled the room. Reuvy, seeing his opening, ran across the hall and flung himself into his mother’s lap, sobbing loudly.
“What’s wrong?” Michal asked. “Did someone bother you? Hurt you?”
“No, no.” Reuvy raised his tearstained face. “No one did anything.”
“So why are you crying?” Michal asked, bewildered.
“Mommy,” Reuvy’s voice rose, pain evident in his words. “Mommy, I want so badly to be like all these men in this hall,” he said, tears streaming down his face, “but I can’t even sit through one shiur with my rebbi!”
I felt the surrounding events receding, as I focused on his poignant plea. “Mommy,” he wailed, “Will I ever be able to also finish Shas?”
I watched this pure prayer, the yearning of a precious neshamah with such focus on the truth, and tears rolled down my cheeks. I was confident that one day I’d be invited to Reuvy’s siyum haShas.
(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 828)
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