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 give us 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? Prayer is a means of integrating into ourselves that life has meaning and that we are not alone. What is the value of that? Perhaps the piece below, illustrates best:

 


THE ANSWER TO YOUR PRAYERS
 
I asked
for strength, and
God gave difficulties to make me strong.
I asked for wisdom, and
God gave me problems to solve.
I asked for prosperity, and
God gave me brawn and brain to work.
I asked for courage, and
God gave me dangers to overcome.
 
 
I asked
for love, and
God gave me troubled people to help.
I asked for favors, and
God gave me opportunities.
I received nothing
I wanted.
I received everything
I needed.
My prayers were answered.
 

 

Torah Portion of the week

Naso, Numbers 4:21 - 7:89

This week's portion includes further job instructions to the Levites, Moshe is instructed to purify the camp in preparation for the dedication of the Mishkan, the Portable Sanctuary.

Then four laws relating to the Cohanim are given: 1) restitution for stolen property where the owner is deceased and has no next of kin -- goes to the Cohanim 2) If a man suspects his wife of being unfaithful, he brings her to the Cohanim for the Sotah clarification ceremony 3) If a person chooses to withdraw from the material world and consecrate himself exclusively to the service of the Almighty by becoming a Nazir (vowing not to drink wine or eat grape products, come in contact with dead bodies or cut his hair), he must come to the Cohen at the completion of the vow 4) the Cohanim were instructed to bless the people with this blessing: "May the Lord bless you and guard over you. May the Lord make His face shine upon you and be gracious unto you. May the Lord lift up His Countenance upon you and give you peace."

The Mishkan is erected and dedicated on the first of Nissan in the second year after the Exodus. The leaders of each tribe jointly give wagons and oxen to transport the Mishkan. During each of the twelve days of dedication, successively each tribal prince gives gifts of gold and silver vessels, sacrificial animals and meal offerings. Every prince gives exactly the same gifts as every other prince.

* * *

Dvar Torah
from Twerski on Chumash by Rabbi Abraham J. Twerski, M.D.

The Torah states:

"Speak to Aaron and his sons, saying, 'So shall you bless the Children of Israel: saying to them, "May God bless you and safeguard you. May God make His countenance shine upon you and be gracious to you. May God lift His countenance to you and establish peace for you." ' "

Immediately prior to the Kohanim delivering the blessing, they say, "He (God) commanded us to bless His nation, Israel with love." Where in the above commandment do we find any reference to blessing Israel with love?

Perhaps the interpretation is not only that they should deliver the blessing with love, i.e., that the Kohanim should feel love for Israel when blessing them, that also that "with love" is the content of the blessing. The blessing is that Israel should feel love, that they should have love for one another. According to this interpretation, it lies well within the commandment.

The blessing culminates that God should bless Israel with peace. The blessing of peace can be merited only when there is love among Jews. When there is dissension and strife among Jews, they cannot expect to enjoy the blessing of peace.

We long for and pray for peace. However, the key to peace is in our own hands. If we can overlook the differences between us, many of which are the result of self-centeredness, and achieve love for one another, we will merit the Divine blessing of shalom.

In addition to meaning "peace," shalom can also be read as shaleim, "whole." If we are fragmented rather than whole, we cannot have the shalom of peace.

 

Candle Lighting Times

May 25
(or go to http://www.aish.com/sh/c/)

Jerusalem 7:00
Guatemala 6:08 - Hong Kong 6:43 - Honolulu 6:49
J'Burg 5:07 - London 8:42 - Los Angeles 7:37
Melbourne 4:55 - Mexico City 7:51 - Miami 7:47
New York 7:57 - Singapore 6:49 - Toronto 8:28


Quote of the Week

What is difference between soil and soul?
One has an "I" the other a "U."
--  Rabbi Emanuel Jacobovits

 

 

With Special Thanks to

Stanley & Susan Rosenblatt
 
Happy Birthday !

Tom
Raskin

 

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Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Kalman Packouz

Copyright © 2018 Rabbi Kalman Packouz