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Home » Rosh Hashanah

Rosh Hashanah: Loving Silence

Submitted by on September 2, 2007 – 4:06 amNo Comment | 1,152 views

Does He Answer?

Rabbi,” she said, “The Torah states that G-d responds to our prayers and grants the favors we request, yet he has ignored my prayers. (1) I’ve been praying for months and my condition hasn’t improved.”

“G-d,” I replied, “always responds to our prayers. Only sometimes the most favorable response is not the one we had hoped for.”

“Shouldn’t I be the judge of what is most favorable for me,” she retorted.

“In a perfect world,” I replied, “we would judge for ourselves. But our world isn’t always perfect.”

If you Love Me

Let’s try a parable. Two friends, we’ll call them Shimon and Levi, were strolling past a casino. Levi handed his wallet to Shimon and explained that as a chronic gambler he doesn’t trust himself with his own wallet near a casino. “If you love me,” said Levi, “you will hold onto my money even if I beg for it, demand it or call you a thief.”

Several moments passed before Levi asked for his wallet. When Shimon refused, Levi, enraged, demanded his money. At this point Shimon performed a quick evaluation of their friendship. Did his love for Levi justify the abuse he was taking?

If Shimon cared for his friend, he would hold onto the money despite Levi’s insistence. If he didn’t care for his friend, he would return the money and watch Levi lose it at the gambling tables. Shimon decided to hold onto the money. Levi saw this as an act of betrayal, but in truth, it was an act of love.

G-d’s perspective is eternal as it is global. It encompasses the past, the future and every facet of creation. Before deciding our fate, he considers every possible ramification, both immediate and  long-term. His analysis is supreme; its magnificence completely eludes us.

We pray for the things we believe are in our best interests. Sometimes we request something G-d knows is not in our best interest. Just as Shimon denied Levi’s request because he loved him so does G-d deny our requests, in those situations, because he loves us.

We don’t understand why our requests are denied. We feel ignored and devalued in G-d’s eyes. In truth, G-d never ignores us. He listens to our every prayer; he cries along with us and desires what is best for us.

His refusal to grant our requests is an expression of his deep love for us. He tolerates our frustration with him, our anger at him and our verbal abuse of him. Why? Because he loves us and wants the best for us.

The Frustration of Knowing

That’s a lovely answer,” the young lady replied, “but it doesn’t apply to me. Unlike Levi, I never asked G-d to withhold my blessing. At the very least G-d should explain his reasons, but instead, he has ignored me completely.

“Your desire for an explanation is justified,” I replied, “but even if G-d granted this explanation we would be incapable of understanding it. In the end, an explanation we don’t understand is more frustrating that one we have never heard.”

Let’s go back to Levi. His addiction consumed him to the point that he could not think rationally. At that moment, any attempt at explanation would only have intensified Levi’s rage.

Levi’s addiction was curable; but our limitations are not. When Levi calmed down he too was able to appreciate the depth of his friend’s loyalty. We however, are never capable of understanding G-d’s perspective. It is too vast, too broad and too deep. The divine dimensions are simply beyond us. Any answer he might offer would only frustrate us further. This may be why he prefers to remain silent.

Good for Us

Rosh Hashanah is almost upon us,” the young lady observed, “and I’ve been thinking about my prayers. If G-d sees fit to deny this request, should I stop asking for it? Will G-d think I’m badgering him if I pray for something he has no intention of granting

“My father,” I replied, “taught me that there are two kinds of prayers. One is the prayer that both G-d and we know to be in our best interest, the other is a prayer that we think is in our best interest, but G-d knows is not.“

The High Holiday liturgy contains a passage that reads, “Your treasure that is good, for us you shall open.” The simple reading of this passage connotes our trust in G-d to decide which treasures are good for us.

One can however amend the punctuation of this passage so that it reads, “Your treasures that are good for us, you shall open. This means that we reserve the right to choose which treasures are good for us. We ask G-d to provide such treasures even though he knows they are not in our best interest.

Omnipotent

We make this request, knowing that it may not be in our best interest, but we trust that G-d, in his omnipotence, can arrange for it to somehow become our best interest. G-d, who created our fate can readjust our fate.

This Rosh Hashanah,” I counseled, “repeat your prayer from last year, but add a new twist to it. Acknowledge G-d’s all encompassing awareness and recognize that your request may not be in your best interest.

Then throw yourself upon G-d’s mercy and claim your rightful place as his beloved child.

Tell G-d that you know he has it in his power to rearrange the cosmos so that your request will work in your favor. Remind G-d that you love him. Remind G-d that he loves you. Pray with a full heart and surely G-d, in his infinite compassion, will see fit to grant your heart’s desires in this coming new year.”

Footnotes

  1. Deuteronomy chapter 30
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