The need is unfortunately growing, and increasing tefillah is of utmost importance
Several years ago, a mother with three children in shidduchim felt completely overwhelmed by her predicament. On one hand, if she spent all day doing her hishtadlus and sparing no effort on her children’s shidduch prospects, it would leave her with no time for the rest of her family’s needs. On the other hand, if she paid little attention to the shidduch process, then she felt guilty that she wasn’t doing her proper hishtadlus.
This dilemma was causing her incredible stress and affected her ability to function properly. She presented her dilemma to her rav, who in turn presented this question to the Philadelphia Rosh Yeshivah shlita, and he told her making one phone call a day would fulfill her obligation of hishtadlus.
I would like to suggest that the Chazon Ish ztz”l would have added another dimension to this response as well. And that addition would be tefillah.
The Chazon Ish (Maaseh Ish, vol. 7, page 103) teaches us that while hishtadlus involves performance of deeds, if one limits his hishtadlus to only deeds, and does not also daven, he hasn’t met the requirement for hishtadlus, the primary facet of which is tefillah.
In that vein, five years ago, Ohel Sarala was born. The gadol hador, Rav Aharon Leib Steinman ztz”l, envisioned a system that would pair singles with couples struggling with infertility so they could daven for each other (in addition to assisting the couples with the costs of their treatments). That vision developed into Ohel Sarala, led by my wife, along with the legendary founders of Bonei Olam, Rabbi and Mrs. Shlomo Bochner. Ohel Sarala has already achieved almost 2,500 engagements and 400 babies born since its inception.
But it is still not enough. The need is unfortunately growing, and increasing tefillah is of utmost importance.
For quite a while, I have been struggling with how to increase hishtadlus for singles, and also extend it to a different demographic, but I just didn’t know how to go about it.
I do now, thanks to a short email to me from a young high school girl in a fledging small high school in Las Vegas. Her query led to the formation of a new shidduch-tefillah initiative called “Simchas Sara.”
When 15-year-old Chana Levine of Las Vegas saw a video about Ohel Sarala/Bonei Olam at her school, she knew that she wanted to be part of it. She wrote me to ask how she could help girls her age participate in the Ohel Sarala concept.
What followed was much consultation with educators and principals, and enthusiastic encouragement from the Novominsker Rebbe ztz”l and Rav Dovid Feinstein ztz”l, on the idea to have high school girls all over the country daven for older single girls to help them find their zivug in the zechus of those tefillos. After much correspondence back and forth and numerous delays, in December 2020, Simchas Sara was finally launched.
Under this new initiative, a girls’ high school class will be given names of singles in a different city to daven for. The administrators of Simchas Sara will notify the class when “their singles” get engaged so they can celebrate together.
We have reached out to girls’ high schools of every type throughout the country, and many have eagerly asked to join Simchas Sara.
The goal is threefold. Firstly, to provide additional zechusim for the older singles through the tefillos of so many high school girls. Secondly, to instill in all the participants a deeper appreciation of the power of tefillah. And finally, for the girls who will be davening for others, it will serve as a great zechus for them when they enter into the world of shidduchim themselves in the following years.
And furthermore, as Rav Elya Brudny shlita, the nasi of Simchas Sara, explained in the short video address that kicked off the founding of Simchas Sara, all the additional tefillos arising from this program will be a zechus not only for the older singles who need the tefillos, but for all of Klal Yisrael.
When Simchas Sara was initially being conceived back in 2019, I was working with others to start the program with ten schools on the West Coast and ten on the East Coast, and then fill in all the other schools. I had great enthusiasm about this project’s potential. Naturally, the Satan did everything he could to stop it from happening.
Covid delayed the start of Simchas Sara by almost a year. We lost the Novominsker Rebbe ztz”l, who wanted to be personally involved in the kickoff events, and we lost Rav Dovid Feinstein ztz”l, who was the founding posek for Simchas Sara. Then the Satan almost took me —I became very ill with Covid myself.
However, a few months after I returned home from the hospital, I received a new email from Chana Levine, my young high school partner in this project, asking me if I was still interested in starting Simchas Sara, in light of what I had gone through the previous few months.
When I read that email, I thought to myself that just maybe HaKadosh Baruch Hu had performed a miracle for me just so I could turn Simchas Sara into a reality.
With Rav Brudny’s encouragement, Simchas Sara was launched at TMM, a wonderful girls’ high school in Far Rockaway that happened to be the one our daughter Sarala z”l attended before her untimely petirah.
There was no more befitting place to inaugurate this effort, not only because of the personal connection to Sarala z”l, but because under the leadership of the principal Mrs. Gornish and mechaneches Mrs. Weinberger, the concepts of tefillah and chesed are paramount. We held a brief program where Mrs. Gornish spoke, followed by Rav Brudny’s opening address on video. I then introduced the concept of Simchas Sara, followed by my daughter Ilana Jeger, who gave the outline as to how it would be put into effect.
A little more than four years ago, I had the great zechus to announce the opening of the Ohel Sarala/Bonei Olam initiative in the pages of this very magazine. Mishpacha, as our readers are all well aware, is not just an enjoyable and informative magazine, it has also been the springboard for so many wonderful programs the last few years. And as with these other initiatives, Mishpacha is a full partner in the incredible success of the Ohel Sarala/Bonei Olam program.
As we introduce the new Simchas Sara tefillah initiative in these pages, we hope Mishpacha will be our full partner in all of our future successes as well, im yirtzeh Hashem. We are moving ahead and look forward to having as many girls’ high schools around the country contact our administrator at email@example.com for more information on how to sign up.
Our administrative director is Mrs. Sarina Weingarten, who will coordinate schools’ participation with several girls representing their cities. Chana Levine currently represents the West Coast and Meira Mendlowitz represents the East Coast. We hope to be adding more girls to this group in the coming weeks as they step up to volunteer.
Over the last few years, I have had the great zechus to approach the Sar HaTorah, Rav Chaim Kanievsky shlita, on behalf of others. I have submitted many names of singles given to me by concerned parents, friends, and the singles themselves for a brachah. There were many times when, besides requesting the brachah, the singles, both men and women, wanted me to ask Rav Chaim what they could undertake to do as a zechus to find their zivug.
He always gave the same one-word answer: “Tefillah!”
Years ago I used to follow up with another question: What can the Rav suggest besides tefillah? And again the answer was always the same: “More tefillah.” I no longer ask the follow-up question.
Simchas Sara is not just about tefillah. It is about more tefillah. More tefillah for the singles and more tefillah for Klal Yisrael. Something that is very much needed in these difficult times that we are in. May HaKadosh Baruch Hu, the Shomeia Tefillah, hear all our tefillos, and especially the ones we pour forth from the pure neshamos of our young bnos Yisrael.
May we be zocheh to bring more and more simchahs to Klal Yisrael.
V’chein yehi ratzon.
Rabbi Aryeh Z. Ginzberg is the rav of the Chofetz Chaim Torah Center of Cedarhurst and the founding rav of Ohr Moshe Institute in Hillcrest, Queens. He is a published author of several sifrei halachah, and a frequent contributor to many magazines and newspapers, where he writes the Torah hashkafah on timely issues of the day. He is also a sought-after lecturer on Torah hashkafah at a variety of venues around the country.
(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 883)
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