By Daniel Keren
Rabbi Pinchas Jung, the Menahel Ruchani of Bais Rochel in Monsey spoke at a special Hakhel Yarchei Kallah this past Monday at the Agudath Israel of Madison in Brooklyn. The topic of his lecture was “Achieving Emunah Through Tefillah.” Hakhel is a Flatbush-based organization dedicated to promoting a greater awareness of Torah-true values in our community.
He began his inspirational talk by noting that in recent years the conduct in the Bais Hatefillah in Klal Yisroel has certainly improved. Very often when talking to his students about tefillah, the most common question asked is about prayers not being answered, whether they are for a yeshua or for shidduchim or parnasah.
Is Hashem Yisborach Supposed to be a ATM Card?
We have to ask ourselves, Rabbi Jung said, if our requests are the main focus of our tefillah. Is Hashem Yisborach supposed to be a ATM card? Chazal teach us that Hakodesh Baruch Hu wants to hear our voice through tefillah.
A moshul of Hashem Yisborach’s desire for Klal Yisroel to forge a relationship with Him is that of a king who saved a woman endangered by bandits on a deserted road. The king saw that she was attractive (with good middos) and wanted to marry her. But she did not reciprocate his desire for such a union. Therefore the king sought to arrange another danger that would befall the woman that would force her to cry out for help. And he would be there to rescue her.
This story is similar to the Jews crying out because of the terrible burdens of their slavery in Mitzrayim and also at Krias Yam Suf when they seemed to be trapped while the Egyptian army led by Paroah was quickly coming to attack them.
Rabbi Jung says that Hashem Yisborach puts us into a matzav in order to inspire us to call out. The Maharal writes that the tefillah we recite should teach us that a Yid constantly needs Hakodesh Baruch Hu and that there is simply no hope that we can survive without His help.
The Words of Tefillah Teach a Very Important Lesson
Even when we may think that we can logically avoid dangerous situations and handle take care of ourselves, a sort of the power of my hands attitude, we must learn from the words of tefillah that we do need Hashem’s help at every moment in our lives.
The Rogachover Gaon taught that when I daven, I am speaking to Hashem. However, when I learn Torah, then Hashem Yisborach is speaking to me. In Pasuki D’Zimra, the idea is that when we begin davening, we are trying to develop an awareness of the importance of Hashem Yisborach in our lives. This contradicts the prevailing attitude of the outside world that one is quite capable of taking care of himself.
Rav Shimon Schwab in his sefer on Tefillah writes that for Avraham Avinu when he was only three years old and came to a realization that there was a Borei Haolam and on the basis of that understanding he defied the prevailing world view that favored idol worship. And [when Nimrod threw Avram into the furnace in Ur Kasdim]for the sake of that one pure neshama, it was worth it for Hashem Yisborach to against His basic desire to not change the nature of the world [that one thrown in a fierce fire would normally die] in order to save that one individual [Avram.]
Davening, Rabbi Jung explained, is not about getting from Hashem what we think we need, but rather getting what we need. We all need a ruchnius foundation and that is a dynamic emunah. There are a number of points involved [with developing] a proper emunah.
How to Not Make Your Tefillah Difficult and Boring
Many people argue that tefillah is difficult and boring. The question for such people is do you really know what you are saying when you daven. If not, of course and no wonder that your davening is not exciting! Rabbi Jung recommended that everybody focus each day at first on just one pasuk. Try and understand the simple translation of the words and also if you can look at a commentary of that pasuk.
The Siddur is loaded with a number of important yesodas, principles of powerful emunah. When we say “Atah,” we are speaking to and must strive to create the realization in our minds that Hashem Yisborach is in front of us and listening to what we are saying. Yes, our tefillah may not be answered the way we want. But we understand that our words and hopes are being listened to by Hashem.
What is Yiddishkeit? At the end of the day, it is not about a religion. But rather about our making that important effort to forge a relationship with Hashem Yisborach. The ikur focus of Yom Kippur is timloch, to make Hashem Yisborach our King. The tefillos we recite on this day are to declare that we are aware that You Hakodesh Baruch Hu are the King and it bothers us that Your Kingship is not recognized by the rest of the world.
Rabbi Jung recalled a student of his saying that Rosh Hashanah is Hashem Yisborach’s day and that Yom Kippur is our day. Whenever a person commits himself to serving in the army of Hashem Yisborach, the King becomes obligated to care of the needs of that individually dedicated Yid.
Don’t We Want the Wickedness and Terrorism in the World to Stop?
Our davening is that Hashem Yisborach become recognized by the whole world as King. Don’t we want all the rishus, wickedness and terrorism to stop? Shouldn’t we therefore strive to make the davening during the month of Elul a little slower than that of the rest of the year in order to help us reach the spiritually elevated level of properly and more effectively being able to daven on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur for the ultimate glory of Hashem Yisborach?
The story is told about a composer who was too ill to attend in person a concert where a major philharmonic orchestra was going to perform his major composition. However, it was being broadcast nationwide on radio in the days before television. He was joined by a friend who came to the composer’s house to listen together to the performance of the composition.
After the performance the friend asked the composer how he liked the way the orchestra had played his piece. The composer answered that it was generally good but that he could tell that one of the violinists was missing. The friend couldn’t believe it. But the next day he called the executive director of the orchestra and asked was any musician missing from last night’s performance. The orchestra official said, “Yes, one of the 20 violinists was ill and had not shown up.”
This is a parable that even when one Jew is lack in his efforts among hundreds and maybe thousands of other Yidden in the same community to the goal of forging a closer relationship with Hashem Yisborach, the Great Composer is able to notice this seemingly insignificant lapse. Every Jew must know that his or her efforts are of great importance.
We must understand, Rabbi Jung said that the Geulah is not just geographic but more importantly, about coming closer to Hakodesh Baruch Hu who is constantly watching us in the hopes that we will want to forge that deeper relationship with Him.