Ron Yitzchok Eisenman, Rabbi, Congregation Ahavas Israel, Passaic, NJ
One day The Chazon Ish (Rabbi Avrohom Yeshaya Karelitz, 7 November 1878 – 24 October 1953) arrived in a town for a short visit. This occurred when he lived in Lithuania and except for a small group of people in the know; he was for the most part an unknown prodigy. He also dressed extremely modest and simple; he did not have a nice hat or suit and he was by nature a quiet and unassuming man. He arrived in the town Shul before Mincha as he was to meet the town rabbi after Maariv. He sat down at the table and seeing that there was another fifteen minutes until Mincha began, he opened up the Massechta Kiddushin which was already on the table. After about five minutes the Gabbai (sexton) of the Shul entered and began to arrange the benches and clean up before Mincha. He then noticed the Chazon Ish learning from the Gemara. Without any fanfare, he approached the Chazon Ish and removed the Gemara from his hands. As he did so he explained, “These Gemaras are for the members of a Shiur which meets between Mincha and Maariv and you are not a part of the Shiur.” He then placed a Sefer Tehillim in front of the Chazon Ish as he remarked somewhat dismissively, “Anyway, a Gemara is not for a person like you; a Tehillim is for a person such as yourself.” With that, the man left the Chazon Ish with the Tehillim and proceeded to clean up.
After Maariv the town Rav greeted the Chazon Ish warmly and announced to the 15 or so men in the Shul, “Beruchim HaBaim” (welcome) Rabbi Avrohom Yeshaya Karelitz; a great Talmid Chochom who is staying with us for the night. He is a great sage from Vilna.”
All of the men politely shook hands with the Chazon Ish and continued on their way; that is except for the Gabbai. In a very apologetic and submissive style, the Gabbai approached the learned Rav and stammered, “I am so sorry… I had no idea who you are…. Please forgive me…”
The Chazon Ish looked at the man and with complete sincerity said, “What is there to apologize for? You were correct on all fronts. First you mentioned to me that the Gemaras are for the attendees of the Shiur; I am not part of the Shiur and therefore you were correct in taking it from me. You then handed me a Tehillim and said, “Tehillim is for a person such as you”. Here too, you were right. I have been negligent in reciting Tehillim and you were on the mark in pointing it out to me. So there is nothing in the world to apologize for.”
The amazing part of the story is not just that it is true; it’s that the Chazon Ish was not being ‘nice’ to the person; he really and truly meant every single word he said to him!
“If Not Now, Then When?”- Hillel
Ron Yitzchok Eisenman, Rabbi, Congregation Ahavas Israel, Passaic, NJ
FROM THE SEFER SHABBOS KODESH-WHY WE DON’ T SAY NAMES OF CHOLIM ON SHABBOS
Chapter 3: Shabbos is the Day We Can Find Hashem Why We Don’t Say Names of Cholim on Shabbos
On Shabbos we refrain from Davening for a sick person unless they are in dire need. Chazal state, “Shabbos is not a day for crying and the healing will arrive quickly… she Shabbos is capable of having compassion”, in other words, Shabbos itself will usher in compassion and heal our wounds and all our troubles. Why don’t we ask for Refuah or any material needs on Shabbos? Furthermore, how do we merit this specific Brocha on Shabbos?
Rav Shimshon Pincus zt”l answers this fundamental question with the following Mashal:
There was a successful fund raiser who would glean as much information as possible on a potential large donor’s past, family and interests before he approached the donor and when he meet the individual he would inquire about and discuss the person’s hometown, family, and other matters that were important to him. This fundraiser would first develop a relationship with a potential donor and only after he felt close with that individual would he discuss his yeshiva’s needs and in the end, he would receive a far greater check than he would have had if he simply asked for money.
THE GREATNESS OF SAYING TEHILLIM
In the Sefer “Chesed L’Avrohom” it is brought “that in the year 1352 c.e. there was a poor righteous man who only knew how to learn the basics. He became old and passed away at a ripe old age. Within the thirty days after his death, he appeared in a dream to an exceptionally learned man. It appeared to the leaned man that the poor man was standing in front of him in shrouds and was holding a small book. The learned man asked, “Aren’t you the one we buried on such and such a day?” The man answered, “You have spoken correctly, it is I”. The learned man said, “What is that book you are holding in your hand?” He answered, “The book of Tehillim. And I have come to warn you to warn th e people of my town where I lived that they should run away and save their lives. Because a tragedy will strike whoever stays in that town. While I was alive and I finished Sefer Tehillim every day for al thse years, that merit allowed the people to sojourn in peace and they were saved from tragedy until now. But from now on there is no one to guard them.”
And it was in the morning and the man shook with terror and he send a special messenger to that town with a letter warning the inhabitants. There were some people who listened to the words of the Chosid and ran for their lives and there were some who were not afraid of the punishment and they stayed in that town, until the hand of Hashem touched them (and they lost their lives.)
From that day forward, he completed Sefer Tehillim every week. Therefore say Tehillim constantly because the constant repetition of Sefer Tehillim will prevent many disasters and tragedies from coming upon us and members of our household, our families and all of our generations. The zchuses of the one who says Tehillim will bring bounty, heavenly mercy, blessings and success. Fortunate is the person who was worthy and causes other people to do good things.
THE POWER OF TEHILLIM
Ever since my children could first talk, my wife and I have made sure they say Kiryas Shema out loud each and every night. Many years ago we took on the habit of having the children say Tehillim for different people who needed help at the same time they said Krias Shema. Every once in a while, I’d be able to report to my children.
“This girl we davened for has recovered, this boy is better.”
Sometimes, unfortunately we had to let them know that “Hashem took back the Neshoma.”
I never knew for sure how to explain to my children that sometimes despite the strongest Tefilos for a person, that person had to die anyway. The best I could do was to explain that Hashem knows far better than us what is right and it is always our job to daven for a person no matter how hopeless it seems. This year I stumbled unto a startling other answer to the question as to why w must always say Tehillim for people no matter how hopeless the situation.
Someone complained to me about how the whole world said Tehillim for Rav Shlomo Zalman Urbach and the Tefillos did not seem to be answered.
“The whole world said Tehillim for Rav Shlomo Zalman Urbach this year, yet the day after we said Tehillim, so many Yidden went to his funeral. How do we handle the fact that so many men, women and children can say Tehillim for a man, and yet they were disappointed with the results?” he asked.
Good question, but you see, I am one of the few people who experienced the answer to this question first had.
I’m one of the few people who did not know the world was davening for Rav Shlomo Zalman ben Rivka, Rav Shlomo Zalman Urbach, on that particular Shabbos. I spent that same Shabbos in a hospital, desperately davening for another Shlomo Zalman be Rivka, Rav Shlomo Zalman Urbach, on that particular Shabbos. I spent that same Shabbos in a hospital, desperately davening for another Shlomo Zalman ben Rivka. The Shlomo Zalman ben Rifka I was davening for, was hit by a car in Boro Park and lay in Kings county Hospital fighting for his life.
In Shomaim that day, perhaps because of the Tehillim said by so many, it was decided that a Shlomo Zalman ben Rifka must live and recover, and so perhaps it was with that in mind, that my brother Shlomo Handler, otherwise known as Shlomo Zalman ben Rifka recovered so well, that he is back at work and getting better each and every day.
The world asked that Shlomo Zalman ben Rifka recover and although many did not know it, and that is exactly what they got!
Remember this lesson well! You many not know exactly how your Tehillim and Tefilos are being answered, but you must know, not one word is ever wasted. The cries of the Bnei Yisroel are never in vain.
THE POWER OF TEFILLA
By Rabbi B. Bamberger, Rav of Bais Medrash of Flatbush
How powerful is a prayer? It is beyond the capabilities of the human mind to grasp the sheer awesomeness of the strength of a tefilla. Were we to realize the impact that every letter of our tefillos has in the heavenly spheres, we would definitely invest more time and effort into our davening. Every letter of our tefillos has its own place in heaven . No tefilla, not one word or one letter is ever lost.
The Avos and Imahos-our forefathers and foremothers laid the very foundation for all of us to be great people who pray . They created for all time an open line of communication between Klal Yisroel and Hashem. We have only to follow in their footsteps to achieve great heights in our tefillos, and be worthy that they reach the Kisey HaKovod (throne of glory), without any impediments.
The power of one’s tefilla is directly related to one’s Kedushas HaPeh V’Taharas HaLev U’Machshova – the sanctity of one’s mouth and the purity of one’s heart and thought. One must concentrate on one’s tefillos with a purity of heart and thought and must utter the words with a sanctified mouth. If one’s mouth is used for inappropriate speech it cannot succeed in davening words that will move the heaven and earth. If ones heart and thoughts are clouded with information unacceptable to the Yiddishe neshama, it will not be a wellspring for proper tefillos. It is for this very reason that a Tzaddik’s tefilla seems to have much more of an impact than our own: it stems from a pure heart, pure thoughts, and is said with a pure mouth. We beseech Hashem, V’Taher LeBeinu L’Avdocha Be’Emes –please purify our hearts that we may serve YOU in truth. The word la’avodcha –to serve you refers to tefilla as it is written – Aizehu Ha’Avodah Sha’Belev? Zu Tefila. What is considered a work of the heart? Tefillah.
Yet even with the proper thoughts and Kedushas HaPeh – the holiness of one’s mouth, one’s tefilos are only guaranteed to be heard by Hashem. It is not promised that they will be answered in the manner in which we expect and wish, or in the time frame which we desire. One need only to took back into the Torah to see how many times the tefillos of Tzaddikim remained seemingly unanswered, and how many other tefillos were only answered after many years.
In relation to the world’s existence we all live through but a tiny speck of time. Can we really judge if our tefillos have been answered? The following moving story illustrates this point beautifully.
Many years ago in Yerushalayim we met a woman whom we shall call Rochel (not her real name). Rochel told us an amazing story, one which touches everyone who hears it. Rochel was raised in a totally assimilated family and was very distanced from her religion. One day a flippant remark made by a family member sent her on a search for her roots. This eventually led her to Israel and subsequently to Yiddishkeit.
When Rochel’s grandmother heard that she had become religious, she sent her a letter of encouragement and told her how proud she was to have a frum grandchild….”I know I should have remained religious, Rochel, but I just couldn’t, it was too hard. Enclosed you will find a letter from my father which he sent to me from Europe. You will find it interesting I am sure.”
The letter was written in Yiddish. Rochel took it to a Rav in her school to have it translated for her. It was an emotional and poignant letter “…I know that you are in America, my child, and there are many temptations, but I will daven every day that you will remain a good Jew, keeping the Mitzvos…”
Rochel’s voice cracked with emotion as she reached this part of her story. “Look what my great-grandfather’s tefiloh accomplished! After all these years, and against all the odds, I suddenly became religious. It has always been the furthest thing from my mind….” However, it was not the furthest thought from Hashem’s mind. Rochel’s grandfather’s prayers, her zeidie’s tefillos had been stored for many years, and until Rochel became religious it seemed as though the tefilos would remain unanswered. It was only that Hashem was waiting for the right moment.
This story should serve as a source of inspiration and consolation to all of us. We often daven for a particular person or for a change in a specific situation and we are left feeling that our tefillos have not been answered. We must have the belief and firm knowledge that our tefillos are never wasted and never unanswered.
It is a tremendous zchus (merit) for all of Klal Yisroel that so many women get together every week to recite Tehillim. Bnei Yisroel were redeemed from Mitzraim in the merit of noshim tzidkonious (righteous women). There is no doubt that the noshim tzidkonious of today who are reciting Tehillim in all four corners of the world, will speed us to the final geula (redemption) when Hashem will gather all of Klal Yisroel from all four corners of the world and bring us to Eretz Yisroel quickly in our time.
TEHILLIM THOUGHT FROM THE REBBE FROM TOSH
“There will come a time when you will pull out your hair and shed tears like a river because you didn’t listen to what I have to say.” So writes the Tosher Rebbe shlit”a.
It is only through the power of prayer, including the recitation of Tehillim, that we can be saved from our yetzer hara. By saying the holy mizmorim a person develops an intense connection with Hashem, and gains protection from the forces of evil in this world. With G-d’s help, we have adopted the custom to say all of the book of Tehillim together. What the tzaddikim have told us in the name of Eliyahu Hanavi about how great the tikkun that comes about from saying all of the Book of Tehillim is, is well known. There are those who don’t want to do this wholeheartedly and willingly. They don’t understand why I make so much noise about this. What can I say? All I can say to all my good students, young and old, is that there will come a time when you will pull out your hair and shed tears like a river because you didn’t listen to what I have to say about reciting Tehillim, especially on Shabbos, because when the Son of David will come he will be closest to those who developed familiarity with Sefer Tehillim.
I want to recount a story that highlights the power of Tehillim. In the year 1352, at the time that the Jews of Germany suffered great persecution, the village of Erfurt had been left untouched by our enemies. There was a poor Jew there, not learned but very pious. He died at a ripe old age. Thirty days after his passing, he came in a dream to a talmid chacham in Erfurt. He stood in front of the chacham wearing a shroud and holding a small book.
The chacham told the pious Jew, “Aren’t you the man we buried?”
“That’s right,” he said.
The chacham asked him, “What is that book you are holding?”
The poor man answered, “It is the Book of Tehillim. Warn the people of this town to escape. A terrible decree is about to befall them. They should escape to the village nearby. During my lifetime, for many years I would finish the book of Tehillim weekly. Through that z’chus the people of Erfurt lived in peace. But now there is no one to protect them.”
In the morning the chacham was startled awake by his dream, and sent a special messenger to warn the townspeople. The ones who took the warning seriously escaped and were saved. Those who stayed and didn’t heed the warning were killed.
From the day that my father heard this story, he made sure to say Sefer Tehillim seven days a week. Whoever reads Tehillim protects himself and those around him from disaster for many generations, and spreads an aura of bliss.
FROM RAV SHIMSHON PINKUS ZT”L:
Many women might say, ‘oh if I could say tehillim like the rebbetzin. If I understood it, I f I had the right kavana, I would say, it but because I don’t understand it, I don’t have the right kavana, I wont say it or say so much.’
He says, “just say it” start and keep going. he says, we don’t have to understand it, we don’t have to have the right kavana, just start because Dovid hamelech comes after we start and he finished it for us. And it says about Dovid hamelech, ‘lev kol adom bo’ he has the heart of every jew in him. he experienced everything and anything a yid can experience, so he understands us. He knows if we are saying tehillim for joy or from tzaar. Dovid HaMelech takes our tehillim straight to the kisah hakovod.
THE IMPORTANCE OF GIVING TZEDAKA BEFORE SAYING TEHILLIM ( OR BEFORE DAVENING)
“The Gemmarah in Bava Basrah states that R’ Elazar used to give a perutah and then he would daven. The Kav Hayashar writes that the relationship between tzedakah and teffilah, is the relationship between seasoning and food. Just as spices and seasonings bring out the real flavor locked in the food, so does tzedakah bring out the tremendous power locked inside a teffilah. The Meiri adds that the tzedakah one gives before davening help serve as an advocate to the Abishter on behalf of the mispaleil. And this prepares the way for the Abishter to accept one’s teffilois favorably. R’ Meir of Premishlan used to say that if one were to squeeze the true intent of every Jewish prayer, he would find that each one contained an overwhelming desire for money. However he would also say, that if one were to squeeze out all Jewish gelt in order to extract the real reason yidden want that money, he would discover that a Yid wants money to give tzedakah and do chessed. For that reason we give tzedakah before we daven. To tell the Abishter “it’s true, I am davening for money, but what I really want the money for is to do chessed.” May we all be zoiche to have out teffilois be niskabail, very quickly, and may we only hear of simchas among Klal Yisroel. Besurois Toivois.”
Rabbi Yosef Mizrachi
“In times of darkness and distress, verses of Tehillim are a light to our souls. They are an antidote to discouragement and despair. They console and give hope. They raise our sights. Throughout the ages when our ancestors faced challenges, whether relatively minor ones or serious life-threatening challenges, the holy verses have been a source of encouragement and support. They have provided inner strength in the past, and continue to do so in the present.
“Tehillim is the ul…timate work that connects us experientially with our loving Father and All-powerful King, Creator and Sustainer of the universe. We connect with our loving Eternal Father with our profound appreciation for all of His many kindnesses to us personally and to the entire world.
“In Tehillim we express many diverse needs: Needs for healing, for being saved from harm, for release from deep emotional pain and distress, and also the need to enrich our positive experiences by realizing that they are gifts from the Source of all Kindness. Thanking Him for those gifts exponentially multiplies the value of those gifts. They are no longer material and temporal. They become spiritual assets that nourish our eternal soul.
“There are times in life when a person feels that ‘nothing can be done’ to change a dire situation. But there is always something that we can do: we can connect with our Father and King in heartfelt prayer. We can pray in our own words after we repeat the sublime, uplifting words that were Divinely inspired and sanctified in Tehillim. Reciting Psalms elevates us and opens our hearts. The personal prayers we say afterwards follow our greater awareness of our connection with the One Who can answer our prayers.”