These and Those

Musings from Students of the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem

[PCJE Dvar Torah] Answer to Their Prayers

Posted on October 31, 2013 by Heather Kantrowitz

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i9m8a7g6e“Yitzhak pleaded with the Lord on behalf of his wife, because she was barren.” The Torah doesn’t tell us what his prayer consisted of, only that God answered his pleas and Rivka conceived. This led me to wonder what it entailed, especially because his requests were accepted by God. One of the reasons I think his prayer was accepted is due to the fact that he wasn’t praying for himself – for an heir, a child to be proud of, someone to play catch with. He was praying on behalf of his wife, Rivka – he was praying for someone else to have joy, completeness, satisfaction, fulfillment; for her to not feel like a disappointment for not bearing a child, for her to stop questioning her every move and blaming herself for her inability to conceive. How could such a pure prayer not be answered by God?

I think this is teaching us that we all need to step outside of ourselves and recognize the needs of others. It is so easy to get caught up in praying for our own needs and desires: health, good grades, a promotion, winning a football game, etc. What if we all thought about what our friends and family, or even total strangers, might be needing? Not only could we offer up our prayers for them but we could also be more aware that they may need our help and maybe even allow our actions to be an embodiment of the answer to their prayers.

As Plato said, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” If we each remember this in our prayer lives as well as our daily interactions with our fellow human beings, perhaps everyone’s prayers will be answered just as Yitzhak’s prayers for Rivka were fulfilled.