Sunday, July 27, 2008

Massei. Sending Gifts to the Internees of the Arei Miklat

Makkos 11a– the Kohein Godol’s mother used to send packages of food to the internees so that they shouldn’t be mispallel for her son’s death. R Meir Zvi Bergman in his Sha'arei Orah II, pp.215-217 asks, how would this help? Would nice food replace freedom and make imprisonment tolerable?

He answers that the packages would make them sympathize a little with the Kohein Godol’s mother, and so their tefillos would not be 'b’leiv sholeim,’ their prayers would not be with a whole heart. There is something called tefillah b’leiv shaleim, and there is something else called tefillah that is not b’leiv shaleim. A tefillah b’leiv shaleim is a powerful thing; but even a little dilution makes a critical, an essential difference. When a person is praying that someone should die, sympathy with his victim is a distraction. His sympathy would compromise his ‘yichad leiv.’

Also, see Mo’ed Kotton 18b: Ein nos’in nashim b’moeid, but if he’s afraid that someone else will get her, he can be me’areis. Gemora asks, but “arba’im yom...bas ploni l’ploni,” so why is there any concern? The Gemora answers that there is a concern that ‘shemo yikd’menu acher b’rachamim,” But it’s bashert! The Ribono Shel Olam was machriz! The answer is that a tefillah can change the course of history.

So we see that tefillah is a very powerful thing; it can change a gzeirah of a zivug, it can cause a Kohen Godol to die prematurely. And we have the opportunity to do this three times a day. But for tefillah to be this powerful, it requires a leiv shaleim, it requires yichad leiv. That is the tremendous avodoh of tefillah that we learn from the Gemara in Makkos. So the next time you daven, try to focus, try not to be distracted, and try to really understand what you are saying, and honestly and sincerely accept Hashem’s willingness to hear and give effect to your

A friend of mine who lives in Yerushalayim heard me deliver this drashah, and he made a wonderful addition. He said that he always wondered why it is that people’s klalos seem to be fulfilled more often than their brachos. Now, he said, he understands it: because when a person curses someone, he does it “mit zein gantzen hartz.”

This reminds me of the very German proverb, (I normally wouldn't quote it in German, but, as you will see, this is a saying that really sounds at home in German,) “Schadenfreude ist die schönste Freude, denn sie kommt von Herzen”: "Gloating over another's misfortune is the most superb kind of joy, since it comes directly from the heart."



  2. Thank you. Very inspiring. Will repeat at Shabbos table for my family (and for myself).

  3. Agav, the connection between koach hatefilah and ir miklot is two sided. On the one hand there is the tefilah of the internee as you pointed out. On the other hand there is the koach hetifilah of the Kohen Gadol as well; shehaya lahen l'vakesh rachamim al doran v'lo bikshu.

  4. Good he'arah, Lkwd. I didn't notice that. The whole parsha is a mussar haskeil about the ko'ach of tefilla-- an important lesson at a time of such hester panim that people hardly believe that it does anything at all. I remember one blogger, who happens to be an ehrliche person, remarked that of all the big asifos that took place in New York, none, as far as he knew, made a bit of a difference.

  5. It only occurred to me this round that the kohen gadol's mom would have had to have done quite a bit of traveling. The arey miklat were spread out through the country and me'ever hayarden. So she either was on the road a lot or had to hire messengers who could be relied upon to say who was sending the goodies (a very early version of David's cookie delivery perhaps, though, these, were doubtless chalav Yisrael).

  6. Or she could just fund a "Kohen Gadol's Mom's Kiddush Club". Let me tell you, there's no faster or surer way to a man's heart than a cholent laden with Meal Mart kishke, and not the vegetarian kind, ribs and lamb bones. Or whatever roasted meat you have left over from last week. And, of course, chili sauce.

    AND...this kind of cholent is a two-pronged strategy to eliminate the problem; either you win their hearts, or you destroy them.

  7. Very inspiring post. It reminds me of the vort said in the name of R.C. Shmulevitz that the tefillah of the KG in the Kodesh Hakodoshim on YK had to be spent negating the Tefillah of travelers since their tefillah (that it shouldn't rain) would emanate from a place of desperation (a lev shalem) and would, therefore, likely be fulfilled. Also, I once asked an Adam Gadol the following. If a person falls off a roof - can he daven that he be saved or is that a tefillah for a miracle. He responded that at such a time the Tefillah is coming from such a lev shalem that it can even effect a nes! YO