| Parshah |

Three-Pronged Prayer

Sometimes Hashem, kiveyachol, joins man, and “borrows” his mouth to pray together with him




“Then Yehudah approached him and said,‘Please, my master, let your servant speak now….’ ” (Bereishis 44:18)

any people have difficulty davening with kavanah, because they can’t imagine their tefillos are precious to Hashem. They aren’t great tzaddikim, so why should Hashem listen to them?
The Yerushalmi says that when a Yid prays, Hashem, kiveyachol, places His ear next to the Yid’s mouth. Can there be a closer connection than this? But people have difficulty recognizing this reality and therefore don’t put all their efforts into tefillah.
The Zera Kodesh offers three ideas to help us recognize that our tefillos are valuable and influential.
The first point is alluded to in the first three words of the parshah: “Vayigash eilav Yehudah.” Yehudah represents praise, an integral part of tefillah. The first letters of these words, alef-yud-vav, spell ayeh, how. A person asks: How can I daven? What’s my worth that I can speak with Hashem?
The answer lies in the final letters of these three words: shin-vav-hei — shaveh, value. We each have value. How so? These three letters were added at times to the names of the Avos. Avraham, ‘hei’; Yitzchak’s name is sometimes written with a ‘sin’; and Yaakov’s name is sometimes written with a ‘vav.’ So the first tip is to pray in the merits of our forefathers.
Although they lived thousands of years ago, a child is always connected to his parents. It’s written, “Yaakov is the rope” (Devarim 32:9). If one holds a rope below and shakes it, it will shake above, even if the rope is extremely long.
Therefore, one must think, Although I’m low down, when I shake my rope, Hashem feels it Above (Rav Elimelech Biderman, Torah Wellsprings).

When it comes to tefillah, I find myself divided into two personalities: my young, single, idealistic self, and my mired-in-real-life, middle-aged me. In seminary, I’d go to the Kosel at every opportunity, pouring out my heart, davening for my future husband and children, tears spilling down my cheeks as I begged for spiritual eternity.

The pasuk continues, “Bi Adoni — please, my master.” But the word “bi” also means inside me. Hashem is kiveyachol inside me. Because I have a neshamah, I have a part of Hashem, and the sanctity of my soul makes me worthy to pray to Him.

Fast forward 30 years, and I’m despondent. I have so much more to daven for. That shadowy future family has become real and the needs and siyata d’Shmaya I beg Hashem for are so great that I find myself rendered speechless. How do I encompass all my emotions into coherent thoughts? The enormity of my needs, of my dependence on Hashem for every step of the way, makes my emotions crash, shut down from the desperate weight that defies words.

The third piece of advice is alluded to in the next pasuk, “My master asked my servant.” Ask can mean borrowed. Sometimes Hashem, kiveyachol, joins man, and “borrows” his mouth to pray together with him. So one’s prayers can at times indeed be very powerful, because they may essentially be Hashem’s tefillos. Therefore, a person should say: It may be true that I’m not worthy to pray, but if Hashem sees that I cannot pray, with His compassion and great kindness, He kiveyachol clothes Himself and prays with me. He is with my words when I am davening.

I was standing at the Kosel, dry-eyed and frustrated. I’d come to daven for a family member’s health, and once again couldn’t get past my brain block. How badly I wanted to pour out my heart to beg for gezunt. How puny I felt with my stumbling words that couldn’t contain the depths of my bakashos.

It was then that I saw her. She must’ve been about six, with huge, long-lashed, dark-as-midnight eyes and curly black hair spilling over her shoulders. She stood perfectly still, her sweet face lifted as she looked at the Kosel. She was a picture of purity, of childish beauty, and I found myself caught, watching her in that very private moment. And then she closed her eyes, and simply lifted both hands toward the sky, fingers opened, reaching in clear supplication, while her lips whispered, “Ana Elokim.” A child’s simple prayer.

I, too, am that child. I lifted my hand, stretched it out to reach those ancient walls: “Please, Hashem.”

I know He heard it all.


 (Originally featured in Family First, Issue 873)

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