6 Shvat 5781 / Tuesday, January 19, 2021 | Torah Reading: Bo
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Outpouring of the Soul    

Outpouring of the Soul

Could it be that Hashem wants us to beg for the safety of Israel to change us? To strengthen our relationship with Him? To make us think about...


What is happening right now in Israel is especially frightening and perplexing.  The wolves are circling that tiny, wonderful nation, and are licking their chops.  And when, as Rabbi Brody has shared, Rabbi Arush isn’t smiling -  we should all stop and listen very carefully.  So I listen:  We should pray for the safety of Israel, for at least ten minutes per day.  Additionally, we should be especially careful to follow the rules Hashem has laid out for us.  Rabbi Arush has stated there is no political solution and no military solution.  So it’s prayer and excellent behavior.  I was thinking something much more violent and physical in nature.  Nope, it’s prayer and excellent behavior. 
Coming from a non-religious and non-Jewish background, and I think this is at least partially the case for many people reading this, that is - no disrespect intended whatsoever - hard to swallow.  Again, I mean that with absolutely zero disrespect to Rabbi Arush who is on the top of the mountain while I am way the heck down here, at the start of the trail.  But when I try to follow his instructions, I don’t feel my heart is in it for more than thirty seconds.  I feel a large lack of emuna followed by an urge to learn how to use a gun and parachute out of planes.  Then I feel guilty for the lack of emuna, which further pushes me away from actually doing what the Rabbi suggests.  So here I am in the vicious circle of doubt, going nowhere.  I want to evict this lack of emuna
There is a book called “Outpouring of the Soul” that is especially terrific for jump- starting stalled prayer.  It is a compilation of Rabbi Nachman’s teachings on hitbodedut.  The edition I have is translated by the late, great Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan.  In it there’s a section entitled “The Weapon of Prayer”.
“Your main weapon is prayer.  You may have to fight many battles, both with the Evil Urge and with many other things that prevent you from serving God.  With prayer you can conquer all...You may pray and meditate for many days and years, and still feel you are far from God.  It may seem to you that God has hidden His face from you.  Still you should not mistakenly think that God does not listen to your prayers and meditation.  You must think that God listens and pays attention to every word of each prayer, so that not a single word is lost...However each word may make only a small impression on high when it comes to arousing divine mercy.  Therefore it takes a long time until the structure is completed and you can enter it.”
So this means that each prayer I offer for the safety of Israel, in this instance, is like a tiny little brick put in place.  I need to imagine what the whole structure will look like.  I need to be patient.  I need to have faith that I’m actually building something at all.  I need to trust in Hashem, even though I feel He’s a million miles away when I pray for the safety of Israel. 
I know that prayer has worked for me when it comes to issues happening directly to me, or right around me.  Very often I can see it, literally.  How on earth can I see it when I’m praying for the health of a nation on the other side of the globe from me?  That is testing my vision- my imagination.  Can I look at the news and see a life saved and say, “Ah ha!  Gee, I was praying for Israel just yesterday.  Look at that.  Awesome.”?  I don’t have an answer to that question. 


Can I look at the news and see a life saved and say, “Ah ha!  Gee, I was praying for Israel just yesterday.  Look at that.  Awesome.”! 
I would be a liar to say I don’t need some validation.  I’m just a normal little flawed  person who is constantly battling to not gossip, to be generous, to loosen the tight grip I have on my wallet, to not be so vain, to learn Torah or pray instead of doing something worthless like watching TV.  But despite my many flaws, I care a great deal.  The more I care the more I feel this need to experience the reality that Hashem is listening.           
I have heard many lectures about the idea that Hashem loves to hear the prayers of barren women.  I always find it interesting because I really believe our son wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for all of the praying we did, so it doesn’t strike me as odd that He would really want to hear those specific prayers.  I have heard many people comment that it sounds mean to make women who are going through that trial beg their heads off, to make them cry, to make them contemplate a world where they will need to settle for watching others raise children and never experience it themselves. 
I don’t think Hashem is cruel, God forbid.  He is merciful, so how do we make sense of this?  For me the begging and the crying were partly about seeing how badly I really wanted a child, and the world that comes along with a baby.  It was about forging good parents.  It was about building a relationship with Hashem so I could raise a child in that context. 
Could it be that Hashem wants us to beg for the safety of Israel to change us?  To strengthen our relationship with Him?  To make us think about a world where we, God forbid, lose Israel again?  How much do we want it?  Maybe these are things we should be thinking about.  And when we are done thinking, we should tell Hashem, so that we can work as a team to build the structure, and then, God willing, be worthy of entering it.

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