Ki Tetzei(Deuteronomy 21:10-25:19)
Ki Tetzei 5772
GOOD MORNING! Did you ever ask yourself, "What good is prayer? My prayers don't get answered!" If you have asked the question, then great! It means you are asking the right questions about the purpose and meaning of life.
So, what's the answer? Prayer is not a form of barter where one puts in his requests and God is supposed to fill his list of requests. Prayer is about coming closer to the Almighty and creating a relationship with the Almighty. Whether the Almighty fulfills our requests in full or in part is determined by the Almighty as to what will help us grow in that relationship. That is why all prayers are answered -- sometimes with a "Yes," sometimes with a "No" and sometimes ... with a "Not yet."
Our purpose on earth is to grow as human beings, to develop our souls by doing the mitzvot (the Almighty's commandments in the Torah), to work on refining our character and perfecting the world. Prayer is a means for us to fulfill our purpose.
As mentioned, prayer is about building a relationship with the Almighty. It is about changing ourselves and recognizing that everything comes from the Almighty -- and only the Almighty. By strengthening this relationship it changes us and makes it good for the Almighty to grant our request.
A prayer has three components based on how one would make a request to an earthly king who had the power to grant your request or even put one to death: 1) Praises of God. (He doesn't need our praises; it focuses us on Who we are talking to.) 2) Our requests. 3) Thanks. (It is good manners to show appreciation.)
Of course, we would love for our requests to be answered in the affirmative. However, it is not always in our ultimate best interest. We can relate to this as parents. A child may beg for something that the parent knows is not in the child's best interest and may even be a danger to a child. The smart and caring parent will do the right thing, do the difficult thing and say "no."
We Jews believe that there is a God Who created the world, loves us, gives us ultimately what is best for us, has a covenant with us which obligates us to fulfill His commandments, deals with us with both justice and mercy. Life is complex. We are finite; God is infinite. We (those of us who understand that we are limited in our knowledge and understanding) do not presume to know the whole picture. We do know based upon our understanding of Torah and history that God has a plan for history and a track record of fulfilling His promises -- be they for reward or punishment. We understand that the Almighty acts in this world with purpose, meaning and good.
What good is prayer if our prayers aren't answered in the way we want or in the way we think we deserve? Prayer gives us hope. What is the value of hope? Hope makes it possible for us to live and face the future; with hope we have the possibility of change, improvement ... something better. Prayer is a means of integrating into ourselves that life has meaning and that we are not alone. What is the value of prayer? Perhaps the piece below, illustrates best:
Torah Portion of the Week
Topics in this week's portion include: Women Captives, First-Born's Share, The Rebellious Son, Hanging and Burial, Returning Lost Articles, The Fallen Animal, Transvestitism, The Bird's Nest, Guard-Rails, Mixed Agriculture, Forbidden Combinations, Bound Tassels, Defamed Wife, Penalty for Adultery, Betrothed Maiden, Rape, Unmarried Girl, Mutilated Genitals, Mamzer, Ammonites & Moabites, Edomites & Egyptians, The Army Camp, Sheltering Slaves, Prostitution, Deducted Interest, Keeping Vows, Worker in a Vineyard, Field Worker, Divorce and Remarriage, New Bridegroom, Kidnapping, Leprosy, Security for Loans, Paying Wages on Time, Testimony of Close Relatives, Widows and Orphans, Forgotten Sheaves, Leftover Fruit, Flogging, The Childless Brother-in-Law, Weights and Measures, Remembering What Amalek Did to Us.
* * *
based on Growth Through Torah by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin
The Torah teaches an important lesson about choosing a spouse in this week's portion. Regarding a non-Jewish woman captured during war that a soldier wishes to marry, the Torah places all sorts of restrictions in the way of marriage over a period of thirty days -- so that his passion will cool. The Torah states regarding the soldier's ultimate decision:
"And it will be if you did not want her" (Deut. 21:14).
Why does the Torah speak in the past tense ("did not want her") when referring to the decision the soldier makes at the end of thirty days? The Torah "should" have spoken in the future tense -- "and ... if you will not want her."
The answer is that there is a difference between the term chaishek which means passion and lust, and the Hebrew verb used by the Torah in this verse, chofaitz, which means wanting because of a rational decision that something is good for you. The Torah is telling us that a person who wants to marry someone only because of infatuation and a passion that is based on good looks never really wanted the person from the very beginning (therefore the past tense is used). It was just desire, not a genuine love for the other person.
Rabbi Noah Weinberg, of blessed memory, the founder of Aish HaTorah defines love as "the pleasure one has in seeing the good in another person. It is based on recognizing the virtuous qualities in another person and identifying the person with those qualities. Infatuation, however, is blind -- when your emotions prevent you from seeing the entire picture and you mistakenly believe that the object of your infatuation is totally perfect, free of any faults." Love is not blind, it is open-eyed -- you see the faults and imperfections as well as the good. Infatuation is blind. If you think the other person is perfect -- watch out!
CANDLE LIGHTING - August 31
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QUOTE OF THE WEEK:
Life is fragile - Handle with prayer
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