Here’s the first email that greeted me this morning:
Mrs. Rachel Weinstein –
Hi, Hello. Please, take me off your sending e-mail list.
I thought it was a simple prayer request…
I want you to know that I donated to an orphanage in Jerusalem, Israel a couple of years back…I never got my blessing at all. Instead, I got years of emptiness. Like, I said, No blessings.
Don’t get me wrong: I know what it’s like to beseech heaven with heartfelt prayers, back them up with a good deed, and then anticipate the most subtle sign that they are being answered. Until then, all one can do is wait and wait and wait some more.
But everyone’s got their breaking point. Few things are more depleting than pouring your innermost hopes and desires into heaven and waiting years for a response.
I’d say that’s a valid reason to lose faith.
But as you can imagine, that email got me thinking: Perhaps our ‘unanswered prayers’ have less to do with the flaws of heaven than our perception of how it processes our requests.
Truth is, if you pray at all then you’re way ahead of most people. We’re immersed in a society that promotes the mentality of ‘kochi v’otzem yadi’ – ‘(I accomplish via) MY strength and the might of MY hands.’ How easy it is to think we have created, we have invented, we have discovered. Our strength is our own; G-d is focused on the big things, like making sure it rains and that the planets don’t drop out of orbit. Even the reference to G-d on our currency has evolved into a statement of the worship of the currency itself.
So where DO we place our trust? Especially when we’ve lost our faith in others?
(They say a child’s relationship with G-d is tailored after her relationship with her parents. I imagine a girl at our Home in Netanya, anxious to trust in a mother and father who only delivered neglect and abuse. I wonder how she could ever trust again.)
Where do we go when our prayers were answered with a “No”? Or not answered at all?
But our teachings tell us that there is no such thing as unanswered prayers. They simply don’t exist. Each request, each anguished tear is collected into a pool and answered in some way at some time. Yes, it could take months or even years to fully understand the heavenly response. But that doesn’t mean it hasn’t yet come.
This video has captivated thousands around the world, stimulating renewed faith that instead of suffering being in vain, it is being invested in a bright and brilliant future for our people.
In just a few days, on Sunday, July 29th, we will observe Tisha B’Av, the 9th day in the month of Av and the saddest day on the Jewish calendar. It is the culmination of a three-week period historically known as a time of tragedy, not only for the Jewish people but also the entire world. (The Spanish Inquisition, the First World War and events that were the catalyst for the Second World War began during this time.) We will weep as we recall the most injurious events in Jewish history, the destruction of Jerusalem’s First and Second Temple, which occurred on that day.
We will reflect on our world, bereft of the sacred Temple that channeled holiness and the bounty of countless blessings for both Jews and non-Jews alike. We will express the heaviness in our hearts with fasting and tears, by removing our shoes and sitting low.
For 2,000 years, Jews have mourned the magnitude of this loss and fervently prayed that each person’s potential will create a world that can possess this sacred venue once again.
2,000 years of mourning that loss, of dreaming that dream. 2000 years and the Temple is not yet rebuilt.
2,000 years of an unanswered prayer. Yet every day, in every hour, Jews around the world keep piercing the innermost depths of heaven with their heartfelt requests. They continue a chain of immutable faith that has survived the Crusades, Inquisitions, pogroms, and the Holocaust.
2,000 years…..that’s just about as patient as one can get.
(I imagine a disadvantaged girl who comes to our Home, having experienced a Holocaust of her own. A nurturing staff rebuilds her faith in herself and the world around her. She draws on the spirit of survival inherent in her soul, a deep-rooted faith that is the essence of her people.)
Ask someone who cannot see……how grateful we should be to witness the vibrant colors in a sunset. Ask someone who cannot hear……what he would give to be able to enjoy a melody. Ask someone who cannot walk……what it would mean to feel the grains of sand slip through his toes as he runs on a beach. Seek out others who believe in you more than you believe in yourself, or the person who greets you with a smile, or the child whose embrace sometimes leaves you breathless.
Think of the disadvantaged girls who have no one to care for them, the ones who are now laughing in a summer camp because you opened your heart to give them the most meaningful summer possible. Imagine how your thoughtfulness can create a world so special that it can embrace the reality of a new Temple.
Consider these moments and you know: Your prayers have been answered.
Director of Development