Eighteen Ways to More Effective Prayer – Part Four

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By Rabbi Moshe Meir Weiss

Let’s continue our crash course on superior tefilah.  The Gemora in Berachos asks, “What should a person do if he prays and his prayers go unanswered?”  The Gemora answers, “Yachzor v’yispalel – Let him pray again!  Shene’emar, Kavei el Hashem, chazak v’yameitz libecha, v’kavei el Hashem – Hope to Hashem, be strong and take courage, and hope again to Hashem.”  The Gemora is educating us to the importance of multiple prayers for the same need.  This is actually counter-intuitive., since by humans the opposite is true.  If, for example, you ask me to borrow my car and I say no, and then you ask me again, you’re a pest.  If you ask me a third time, I won’t answer the phone.  But with Hashem it works to the contrary.  Hashem desires to hear from us time after time.

We are taught in this week’s parsha concerning Moshe Rabbeinu when he prayed to appeal the decree against him not to enter into Eretz Yisroel, “Va’eschanan el Hashem – And he offered supplication to Hashem.”  The Baal Haturim, the Rokei’ach and others reveal that the gematria of va’eschanan is 515, teaching us that Moshe Rabbeinu prayed 515 prayers to enter into Eretz Yisroel.  Furthermore, if Hashem wouldn’t have told him, “Rav loch… al tosef – It’s enough for you… don’t add,” he would have prayed even more.  The gematria of shira, another form of prayer, is also 515.  This too is to convey the idea that when singing to Hashem we can have in mind for something specific many, many times over.

In a similar vein, the Medrash asks, “Mipnei mah Imoseihen akoros – Why were our Matriarchs barren?” and the Medrash answers, “Mipnei shemisaveh haKodosh Boruch Hu lis’filosom – Because Hashem yearns to hear their many prayers.”  We are also taught, “V’einei Leah rakos – The eyes of Leah were bereft of eyelashes.”  This is to convey to us that she said so many prayers that she shouldn’t fall into the lot of Eisav that her eyelashes fell out.

From all of this we see that sometimes it’s not enough to ask Hashem for something once.  Rather, He wants us to get closer to Him by storming the Kisei HaKovod, the Heavenly Throne multiple times.  This means that we shouldn’t feel it’s sufficient to ask Hashem once for better shalom bais.  Rather, we should keep at it until we succeed.  The same thing is true for our livelihood, for nachas from our children, and for better health.  We should never feel that we are pestering Hashem.  Rather, it gives Him great joy when He sees that we realize that He, and only He, is the true source of our blessings.

We see this idea also on Yom Kippur when we repeatedly barrage Hashem with such petitions as k’ra ro’ah gizar dineinu, tear up a possible evil decree, or kosveinu b’sefer chaim tovim, write us in Your book of good life.  We say these requests in Avinu Malkeinu many, many times over.  One might wonder, since it says, “Ein shik’cha lifnei Kisei Kovodecha – There is no forgetfulness before Your Heavenly Throne.”  Hashem already heard us.  Why do we have to repeat it so many times?  The answer is that Hashem yearns to hear from us, and to see that we realize that He is the Source of all our successes.  In the merit of our learning to pray better, may Hashem fulfill our requests and bless us with long life, good health, and everything wonderful.

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