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Shabbat Parashat Tzav 5772

Ein Ayah: More Things for Which it Is Worthwhile to Pray

(condensed from Ein Ayah, Berachot 9:26)

There are three reasons that prevent a person from asking for mercy. One is that a person may think that the matter at hand is too inconsequential in the human experience to be deserving of prayer. Other times, a person understands that it is worthwhile to pray about the matter, but he does not realize that he should pray for it sufficiently in advance for things to progress in the proper way. The problem with waiting is as follows. Once matters are progressing in a certain direction, it may take a miracle to change the direction in which they are going, and it is problematic to pray for miracles. Rather, one should pray when the groundwork is being set for that which follows, at which point the prayers are among the things that naturally determine the outcome. A third issue is that one may feel that there is a reason that a certain request cannot be effective. Each of the elements the gemara mentions corresponds to a different one of the reasons that keeps people from praying.

A good dream – One may feel that dreams are not an important enough matter to pray about. However, this is mistaken because the nature of a person’s dreams has a major impact on him. Sleep is one of the parts of man’s life. When he has pleasant dreams, that part of his life will pass in a manner that is full of good feelings, which is also healthy for his body and soul. Inversely, if he has frightening dreams, he will be afflicted during his sleep and his strength will wane. If he has dreams focused on wild thoughts and abominations, this will have an impact on the moral standing of his soul. How can we say that a man should be left to chance regarding his state during sleep when we see that the experience can have either a positive or a negative impact? Therefore, it is worthwhile to pray for good dreams that will have a positive impact on his physical happiness and his moral state.

A good year – How a year will go for people is connected to general things that are decreed for the year. The quality of the air, the agricultural determinants, such as the temperature, and a person’s health are all intertwined. Therefore, it is worthwhile for a person to pray for general good things during the year, matters that are decided in the beginning of the year for the year. It is better for the prayers to be in advance and general, rather than late and specific, as happens when one awakens to an acute personal problem that is already upon him. At that later point, it may be necessary for one to be saved by miracles, which are much less likely to occur. Therefore, the prayers should be for the year as a whole.

A good king – A person is apt to think that he cannot pray for a good king because the king has free choice to act as he desires, and this cannot be affected by the prayers of others. However, the king’s decisions are actually impacted in a major way by the general situation that goes on around him. Thus, his decisions are not always necessarily a function of free will. Rather such things as the interests of the country, the moral standing of people with whom he comes into contact, and the state of peace in the world will impact his decisions and even his frame of mind. Therefore, in regard to the king there is also a need to pray for those matters that are beyond his free will and impact on the welfare of the people of his kingdom.

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This edition of
Hemdat Yamim

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R' Meir
 ben Yechezkel Shraga Brachfeld



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