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Weekly Chizuk

Parshas Toldos

Realize, Maybe It's Not Good for Me

And Yitzchak entreated Hashem facing his wife, because she was barren; and Hashem accepted the entreaties, and Rivka his wife became pregnant. (Bereishis 25:21)

He prayed much and entreated urgently (Rashi).

After twenty childless years of marriage, Yitzchak and Rivka implored Hashem to give them children. Rashi explains that they didn't pray as one would typically pray, but rather they entreated Hashem repeatedly and with tremendous fervor until they were finally answered. What was Hashem's rationale for making them endure such intense and prolonged suffering? Why didn't He answer their prayers immediately?

Both Rav Meir Shapiro and Rav Elyashiv note that Rashi writes (25:30) that Avraham died five years prematurely so that he wouldn't have to endure the pain of seeing his grandson Eisav commit terrible sins. Recognizing that this would occur made it incredibly difficult for Hashem to answer the prayers of Yitzchak and Rivka. Hashem understood that the sooner He would give them the children for which they were pleading, the sooner Eisav would embark upon his path of wickedness, and the sooner His beloved Avraham would have to die to be spared the anguish of witnessing Eisav's actions.

Therefore, Hashem put off answering the heartfelt pleas of Yitzchak and Rivka until they prayed repeatedly with so much intent that He was "forced" to grant their request. Rav Yoseph Chaim Zonnenfeld suggests that this explanation is alluded to by the fact that ' - and Hashem was entreated by Yitzchak - has the same numerical value (748) as - five years!

Many times in life, we are convinced that we need something for the sake of our happiness and well-being. We pray and cry and pray again. Eventually we become frustrated at Hashem's apparent cruelty in ignoring or rejecting what we feel are heartfelt and reasonable requests. At such times, we should remind ourselves of this lesson and take comfort in the knowledge that sometimes Hashem, in His infinite wisdom and mercy, recognizes that what we are firmly convinced we need and deserve, may in reality not be in our own long-term best interest.

* * *

In the first bracha of Shemoneh Esre we praise Hashem for being: "He who bestows upon us good chesed." What is the difference between chesed and good chesed?

Hashem can answer our prayers and grant us our wishes. We look at this as a wonderful chesed that our prayers were answered. In reality, however, it may be the worst thing for us, and in the end it turns out not to be a real chesed.

Therefore we daven that Hashem should bestow upon us "good chesed," chesed that is really and totally for our benefit.

Wishing everyone a Gut Shabbos!

Rabbi Eliezer Parkoff
4 Panim Meirot, Jerusalem 94423 Israel
Tel: 732-858-1257
Rabbi Parkoff is author of "Chizuk!" and "Trust Me!" (Feldheim Publishers), and "Mission Possible!" (Israel Book Shop Lakewood).
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