| Parshah |

The Ties That Bond

Tefillah is primarily a time for connecting with Hashem and for conversing, kiveyachol, with Him




“And Rochel said, ‘[With] bonds of Hashem I have been bound to my sister and I have also prevailed,’ and she called his name Naftali” (Bereishis 30:8).


This week’s parshah discusses the births and the naming of the Shevatim. Naftali’s name shares the root letters with the word tefillah. As Rashi explains, Rochel Imeinu chose this name to allude to the many tefillos she prayed to bear children and Hashem granted her request.

Rashi adds that another root of Naftali is psil, string. A string is created from many thin threads spun together to form one entity. Noam Elimelech ties this word in to tefillah as well, explaining that just as threads unite to form a string, when one prays, he unites with Hashem. (Rav Elimelech Biderman, “Torah Wellsprings”)

It was a Friday night when I first read about Ohel Sarala, in the pages of this magazine — and organization started by Rabbi and Mrs. Ginzberg in memory of their daughter Sarala. I was immediately drawn to the description of the Ginzbergs and how they had the strength to channel their personal tragedy into a merit for Klal Yisrael.

“Listen to this,” I said to my daughters, who were reading next to me on the couch. “There’s a new organization that links single women and couples experiencing infertility to daven for each other. It’s all done anonymously.”

Their interest was immediately piqued.

“That’s a fascinating idea,” said one. “Both groups share a lot in common — they battle so much disappointment and pressure from society’s expectations.”

“Their challenges are pretty unique, though,” the other pointed out. “A single is all alone in her challenge. But a couple, they seem to be fighting both science and their own bodies.”

“I hear that.”

“What do you say we join this initiative?” I asked.

It was a unanimous yes.

The Gemara (Berachos 26) teaches that the Avos instituted the three tefillos a day. The Chofetz Chaim explains that this doesn’t merely mean that the Avos declared we should daven at these three times each day. When the Avos established a particular tefillah, it means they created a pathway and the ability to connect with Hashem through these appointed daily tefillos.

So it began. We received the names of our couple and they became a part of our everyday lives. Tefillos in Shemoneh Esreh, hafrashas challah, candle lighting, Tehillim… all were murmured with their names and heartfelt prayers. Any trip to the Kosel, Kever Rochel, Tzfas, had us saying an extra tefillah for these faceless names who’d become family to us. And even as time passed with no updates, our commitment remained firm.

People are careful to daven at the right time and keep the pertinent halachos of tefillah. But tefillah is primarily a time for connecting with Hashem and for conversing, kiveyachol, with Him. As the Tanna says (Berachos 28), “When you daven, know before Whom you stand.”

It was shortly after Pesach. COVID was raging. Everything seemed bleak, threatening, and depressing. Every day more names were added to the Tehillim list, and unfortunately so many were removed for the saddest of reasons. We walked around bereft and helpless, feeling the Malach Hamaves lurking in every corner. So many tefillos, mass Tehillim rallies, inspirational speeches, but the menace remained. Where was the yeshuah?

Then the news came. A message from Ohel Sarala: Please update your tefillos. Your couple is expecting; may everything go well.

Tears sprang into our eyes; chills ran up our spine. At a time when we so badly needed that message of hope, the seeming impossible had happened. We hugged each other, feeling that the upcoming simchah belonged to us — we were part of the family, connected by tears and tefillos.

P.S. It’s a boy! And we’ve received the names of a new couple who have become ours.

(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 719)

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