As a new year dawns, what did we learn — and how have we changed?
Last year at this time
with little more than three months to go before the Daf Yomi Siyum HaShas, I davened for the success of the Siyum. Please, Hashem, help us fill up MetLife Stadium. Protect us from anyone who might harbor evil designs against us. Send warm, dry weather (despite the calendar!). May the event inspire even the most wayward Yiddishe neshamah to return to its roots. May it promote greater achdus, more limud haTorah, tremendous kiddush Hashem.
One year later
I’m still davening, but now there are other things on my mind. Please, Hashem, protect us from the terrible pandemic that has been unleashed upon the world. Heal the sick, comfort the bereaved. Help us open our yeshivos and shuls swiftly and safely. Send new parnassah opportunities to those who have lost their livelihoods. May we recognize and internalize the lessons You are sending to us through this virus and grow from the experience.
Then I remind myself that in tefillah, one is obligated to express appreciation before supplication, to appreciate the blessing of the past before voicing the needs of the future.
Thank you, Hashem, for allowing Klal Yisrael the zechus of joining together in such extraordinary multitudes to celebrate the Siyum HaShas just weeks prior to the onset of the pandemic. The sheer ecstasy we all felt that day, the inspiration we drew to strengthen our commitment to regular Torah learning, the dancing that bonded us all together as one — these were the injections Hakadosh Baruch Hu knew we needed to help us face the unprecedented challenges none of us had any inkling would soon be upon us in the form of COVID-19.
Last year He answered our prayers. This year, may our gratitude for the past undergird our pleas for the future.
Rabbi Chaim Dovid Zwiebel is Executive Vice President of Agudath Israel of America.
(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 828)
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