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SukkosThe holy days of Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Sukkos are all filled with fervent prayer for a good New Year. In order for our prayers to be fulfilled, we must believe in them. We must be convinced, with no doubt at all, that Hashem hears our prayers and considers each and every one of them. King Dovid said (Tehillim 145:18), "Hashem is near to all who call upon Him; to all who call upon Him in truth." The Sages explain that the second half of the passage modifies the first half. We are to understand that Hashem is really near, only to those Who call upon Him truthfully. Part of being truthful is believing in what we are doing.
There was once a fantastic Maggid (preacher) in Jerusalem by the name of Reb Shabsi Yudelevitch zt"l. His sons just published many of his sermons in a terrific book called Derashos HaMaggid. He once expounded on this point and related a story he read in a foreign newspaper.
In Bogot?, Columbia, a postal worker was surprised to pick up an envelope addressed to the Almighty Himself.
In Israel, explained the Rabbi, such an envelope would not cause much inconvenience. The worker would simply open it and read its contents. As a matter of fact, a story is told of just such an envelope which reached the Israeli Post Office.
Curious as to what it might contain, the postal worker opened the envelope and found a letter from an Israeli citizen in a very difficult situation. He wrote that he had tremendous financial problems and needed a lot of money to pay for his and his wife's medical fees; his children's tuition; his rent for the apartment which he was about to be evicted from and for food and basic necessities in general. The fellow estimated that he needed at least 20,000 Israeli Liros to help him out of his predicament. He included all of his particulars; Name, address and phone number, and signed the letter.
The postal worker was intrigued by the seriousness of this fellow's situation, and passed the letter on to his boss who, in turn, passed it on to his superior. Eventually, the letter came into the hands of the Postmaster General who sent it to the Israeli Government's Welfare Department. Surprisingly, the members of the department took the letter very seriously and, in a rare move, decided to send the unfortunate fellow 10,000 Israeli Liros; no questions asked.
A week later, the original postal worker came across another envelope, also addressed to G-d. He recognized the handwriting and knew that it was from the same man. He was very curious to see what he was w
riting this time and so he hurriedly opened the envelope. There was a letter, from the same man. It read as follows: "Dear G-d,
"Thank You so much for all of Your help. But next time you send me something, please don't send it through the Welfare department. Those crooks stole half of Your grant for themselves!"
Getting back to the post office in Bogot?, over there, things were not that simple. In South America, it seems, they are very strict about protecting a person's privacy. One cannot simply open an envelope that was not addressed to him without permission from the proper addressee. As a matter of fact, it is not only a question of etiquette; it is an illegal act. Consequently, the postal worker who found the letter was in a bind and did not know what to do with it. He turned to the Country's Central Post Office and asked for explicit instructions from the Minister of Communications as to how to proceed.
However, the Minister of Communications, despite his position, felt that this was not a decision which he could make. He turned the question over to a Government Commission to discuss at their upcoming session and decide upon the policy to be taken. The committee had a stormy debate; some members arguing that it may be opened, while others insisting that it could absolutely not be. Not able to come to a concrete conclusion, the committee turned the question over to the President of Columbia to decide.
The President argued that this was beyond his authority too. However, he came up with a novel idea. The Archbishop of Bogot?, he said, the man who has direct contact with G-d, should be able to deliver the letter to Him. And even if he can't, argued the President, as His official representative, he should be able to give us a directive what to do with this rare item.
The Archbishop was very uncomfortable. On the one hand, he knew the truth; that he had no line of communication with the Almighty. On the other hand, to admit this would mean the end of a very lucrative career, and might even cast doubts upon the entire Catholic Church. Therefore, he announced that although he does communicate verbally with G-d, on a regular basis, he never delivered letters to Him nor does he know of anyone who ever did or can.
The burning question, therefore, was passed back to the President who returned it to the Government Commission, who gave it back to the Minister of Communication to decide. He, in turn, gave permission to the manager of the local post office to decide, and the manager told the original postal worker that he may do as he sees fit.
After much soul-searching, the postal worker opened the envelope with trembling hands. Within it he found a letter, written in a child's scrawl. It read as follows:
"A few months ago, I lost my parents. Since then, I have no home, no clothes, and no food. I eat scraps from the garbage and I have nothing at all. Please, G-d, have mercy on me and return my parents to me."
The very moving contents of the letter, full of childhood innocence, were publicized in all of the newspapers. Eventually, it was brought to the attention of the President, who was very moved by the child's plight and wanted very much to help him. However, he had a technical problem. Whereas the boy's Israeli counterpart, who wrote a similar letter, included his identity and all of his details, the Colombian child did not even sign his name. There were quite a few abandoned children in Bogot? at the time so it would not be easy to locate this particular one.
However, the President did not despair. He used all of his influence upon the media to advertise, in the newspapers, the radio and the television, again and again, that a child had written a letter to G-d and his whereabouts were being sought by the President himself. Eventually, the author of the document was found and brought before the President who asked the child why he had not identified himself in the letter. This simple oversight had cost them so much time and energy searching for the boy, he argued.
The suffering lad answered, with a purity of heart usually found only in uncorrupted youngsters, "Your Honor, President, Sir. I sent the letter to G-d Almighty. He doesn't need my name and address. He knows everyone and exactly where they are and how they can be found!"
The President was so moved by the sincerity of the little boy that he decided, then and there, to spare no effort to help him. He gave him a comfortable place to live, with an ample supply of good food and nice clothing, and promised to find his parents and reunite the family.
From this emotional story, concluded the Maggid, we learn that when anyone, even a non-Jewish child, calls upon Hashem truthfully, with all of his heart, Hashem is near to him. We know, of course, that one does not have to send letters through the post office. A simple prayer in the synagogue, if it is recited with true devotion, will be delivered personally to the Almighty.
Let's work on improving the quality of truth and sincerity in the many prayers that we say, and we will be amazed at the results.
Shema Yisrael Torah Network