By Rabbi Moshe Meir Weiss
The entire Jewish world is still reeling in shock from the tragic murders of Eyal, Gilad, and Naftali. We do not have the ruach hakodesh anymore today, as in the times of the Gemora when they were able to tell us that the 24,000 disciples of Rebbi Akiva died because they didn’t give honor to one another, or that millions died during the times of the second Temple because of senseless hatred. Therefore, our souls are still screaming for a Torah response to such a horrific tragedy. Many have wondered what happened to the myriads of prayers said on behalf of these boys.
The Godol Hador, R’ Chaim Kanievsky, Shlit”a, assured us that no tefillah was wasted and every one will accomplish something for Klal Yisroel. This is similar to the 515 prayers that Moshe Rabbeinu davened in order to enter into Eretz Yisroel. Although he was told by Hashem that he could not enter, we are taught that the 515 petitions helped to protect the Jewish people for 515 shmita cycles (7 year periods) till the end of time. Likewise, the failed prayers of Avrahom on behalf of S’dom were not wasted; rather they come to the aid of the Jewish people throughout the ages.
R’ Chaim Mintz, Shlit”a, Menahel of the Yeshiva of Staten Island and founder of Oorah, points out that our prayers helped that the bodies of these K’doshim should be found. It could have easily happened that, chas v’shalom, their remains might never have been found and the families may never have found closure nor been able to sit shiva.
Here is another very important point. We now have a very good idea that these young men were murdered almost immediately after they were abducted. This means that all our prayers were said and our tears were shed after they were already in shomayim, in Heaven. It is, therefore, readily understandable why our tefillos weren’t accepted for they were too late.
It is with this point that I think we could learn a very useful lesson. When Iyov experienced all his dreadful sufferings, his three good friends asked him, “Hayaroch shu’acha shelo batzar? – Did you arrange your prayers before your trouble occurred?” The Gemora always advises us that the smart person prays in anticipation and not in reaction. Thus, the Gemora urges us, “Lolam y’vakesh adam shelo yecheleh – A person should always pray not to become sick.” In the aftermath of this tragedy, we have to ask ourselves when we say in maariv, “U’shmor tzeitzeinu u’vo-einu l’chaim ul’shalom – Hashem should guard our goings and comings for life and for peace.” Do we say it with more kavanah, more concentration? After all, these boys were engaged in going and coming!
There is a berachah in the Shemoneh Esrei that many people give scant attention to. That’s the blessing of V’lamalshinim. It is in this blessing that we petition Hashem, “V’chol oyvecha m’heira yikareisu – All our enemies should quickly be severed, V’hazeidim m’heira s’a’ker – Those who are willful should quickly be uprooted.” Arabs who strap dynamite around their chests and blowup baby carriages and monsters who murder promising young teenagers are the willful enemies that we are referring to in this blessing. Perhaps if thousands of us, here in the Diaspora, will say these tefillos with more concentration, we can stop such atrocities from ever reoccurring. We need to pay more attention to the prayer, “Racheim na al Yisroel Amecha – Have mercy now (or, Have mercy please) on Yisroel your Nation,” which we say in bentching. The blessings of Sim Shalom, grant us peace, and Shalom Rav, abundant peace, which we say at the end of our thrice daily Shemoneh Esrei need more focus. I remember Rav Dovid Feinstein, Shlit”a, advising (after a previous terror crime) the saying of V’hu Rachum on Mondays and Thursdays with greater concentration. In that prayer we say requests like “Chamol na al amecha – Have compassion on your nation.” Finally, as we are zipping through Yekum Purkon on Shabbos morning, we should give great pause to the stanza “V’yisparkun v’yishteivun min kol auka u’min kol marin bishin – May he save you and rescue you from every distress and from all bad times.” This is a sweeping prayer which, if said properly, can help avert many calamities.
May it be the will of Hashem that we be spurred on to say these prayers with much more devotion, and in that merit be spared any further suffering till the coming of Moshiach speedily in our days.
Sheldon Zeitlin transcribes Rabbi Weiss’ articles.
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