By Rav Shmuel Brazil
And Yaakov was angry at Rachel for demanding children (Bereishis 30,1). Rashi comments that her request from him was that his father Yizchak davened to cure the barrenness of his mother yet her own husband did not daven for his wife. Yaakov answered that Yitzchak’s situation was completely different. His father did not have any children at the time while he does.
Outwardly this seems a cold and heartless response to a woman especially his wife that bares the pain of not fulfilling her mission in life as a mother and surely as the mother of Klall Yisrael. How should we understand this seemingly cruel and non sympathetic answer?
Let us go back a moment to the beginning of the previous parsha and examine a wording that is very strange. On the passuk Vayeiasar lo Hashem, Rashi enters a long explanation with various verbs in attempting to describe the meaning of this word vayeiasar. Hashem was prevailed upon conciliated and persuaded. Why such a lengthy and descriptive definition for one word vayeiasar? Rav Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld ztl explains that by listening to Yitzchak’s tefillah it would necessitate the demise of Avraham five years earlier in order not to have the pain of seeing his grandson Esav go off the derech. For such a tefillah to work, one needed a special tefillah with a special response of vayaiasar lo Hashem. Rav Yosef Chaim adds that an incredible hint to this explanation is that the words vayaiasar lo Hashem is gematriah “chamiash shanim” – five years!
In the sefer Beer Yosef Salant he explains in a similar theme Yaakov’s refusal to daven on behalf of Rachel. Yaakov saw in ruach hakodesh that there are destined to be born twelve shevatim and not necessarily equally divided between his wives. If Yaakov would daven for Rachel to have a child, it might be taking away a child from one of the others. Yaakov felt he did not have the right to daven with this possibility that one’s gain can be at the expense of someone else’s misfortune. It needed exclusive Divine intervention.
Parenthetically, such an insight can only be created by to an individual who lived and practiced this yesod. This is the case over here.. I read that Rav Yosef Salant received a segulah to protect and rid oneself of an ayin harah. His house was open to the public for this service. He refused to take money which could have been an exceptional thriving enterprise. Even when he was older and blind and was dependent upon others he still refused to receive any payment. When asked why, he responded I do not want to derive any sort of pleasure from someone else’s misfortune.
With the two above interpretations we can now address the conversation between Yaakov and Rachel in a new light. Rachel beseeched Yaakov to daven for her to bear a child whereupon Yaakov responded am I instead of Hashem? Both Yaakov and Rachel were well aware of the fact that there was destined to be born twelve shevatim collectively. However, Yaakov felt reluctant to daven for Rachel’s cause for perhaps thereby he might take away a shevet from one of the wifes. Rather it is Hashem’s decision and is not to be accomplished through tefillah. Rachel responded by claiming that his father davened that Rivka should give birth even though it was at the expense of cutting Avraham’s life five years shorter so why is it different for her? Yaakov answered that the difference lies in the fact that Yitzchak’s situation in which he was not sure of the future of fathering children warranted him to daven for the future of Klal Yisrael even at the expense of someone else’s tragedy. However, said Yaakov, I have children, meaning I see in ruach hakodesh that I will have twelve. It is therefore beyond my rights to intervene to change children from one mother to another. It must be left up to Hashem to decide.
We see from here an incredible koach in tefillah. Tefillah if it is deep enough it can break through all barriers even at the expense of the life of a tzaddik like Avraham Avinu. And guess what? You don’t have to be a tzaddik to daven and receive such a supernatural response. One just needs a tearful tefillah sincere from the depths of one’s being and the heavenly response is on its way. Three years ago I heard a story of a Yerushalmi child who was diagnosed with cancer and before the radiation treatment started he went to get a baracha from Rav Chaim Kinevsky. After receiving the beracha the young boy requested to daven at the Kosel Maaravi and was heard crying with tears flowing down his cheeks, Hashem I fully accept my treatment and what I have to go through, but what will be with my payos? Please don’t let my payos fall out with the rest of my hair. That year medical history was made that stunned all medical staff and researchers around the globe. A miracle occurred that all this child’s hair fell out except from his payos! But those in the know were not surprised at all. When they brought him back to Rav Chaim and he took one look at the boy he exclaimed Pashit! This is the power of a deep heartfelt tefillah no matter from whom it comes from.
Today it was sent out a Kol Koray in the name of Kupas Hair that at 1:46 pm in Eretz Yisrael it was a segulah time that comes once every 9 years to daven and that our tefillos will be accepted. From the sefer Bris Olam he says that the 9th year of Shmitta, during the 9th month. On the 9th day, during the 9th hour, this is a very special time. Well some of us might have missed this mazel number 9 especially on short notice. To make you maybe feel a little better we should also remember that this year is 5770 which spells taisha תשע also nine. The entire year every day and every minute spells nine and that does not come every seven years. Try once in every thousand years. Maybe this year is the year above all that our tefillos for geulah and refuah will be answered. But don’t let us forget the child with the payos who is testimony that it is really not dependent upon a number or two but rather in the sincerity of heart. So let’s start to really daven!!