Who believes in prayer?

Posted on 05 September 2019 by LeslieM

In a small town in India, a person decided to open up a bar, which was right opposite of a Temple. The Temple and its congregation started a campaign to block the bar from opening with petitions and prayed daily.

Work progressed. However, when it was almost complete and was about to open a few days later, a strong lightning bolt struck the bar and it was burnt to the ground. The bar owner sued the Temple on the grounds that the Temple through its prayers was ultimately responsible for the ill fate of his dream project, either through direct or indirect actions or means.

In its reply to the court, the Temple vehemently denied all responsibility or any connection between their prayers and the bar’s burning down. As the case made its way into court, the judge looked over the paperwork at the hearing and commented: “I don’t know how I’m going to decide this case, but it appears from the paperwork, we have a bar owner who believes in the power of prayer and we have an entire Temple that doesn’t.”

The Sidur

Let me share a story:

Simon Wiesenthal (1908 – 2005) was an Austrian Holocaust survivor who spent four and a half years in the German concentration camps such as Janowska, Plaszow, and Mauthausen.

After the war, he became famous for his work as a Nazi hunter. Wiesenthal dedicated most of his life to tracking down and gathering information on fugitive Nazis so that they could be brought to justice.

At a conference of European Rabbis in Bratislava, Slovakia the Rabbis presented the 91 year old Simon Wiesenthal with an award, and Mr.Wiesenthal, visibly moved, told the Rabbis the following encounter that he had with Rabbi Eliezer Silver.

Rabbi Eliezer Silver (1882 – 1968) was among American Jewry’s foremost religious leaders, and he is most noted for spearheading efforts in rescuing as many Jews as possible from Europe. He raised funds, requested exemptions on immigration quotas, offered to ransom concentration camp prisoners for cash and tractors – talks that freed hundreds from Bergen-Belsen and other death camps — and organized rallies in Washington. After the war, he traveled to Europe and worked tirelessly on the ground to assist his brethren.

It was in Mauthausen after liberation that Simon Wiesenthal was visited by Rabbi Silver when he had come to help and comfort the survivors.  Rabbi Silver had organized a special prayer service and he invited Wiesenthal to join the other survivors in praying. Mr. Wiesenthal declined and explained his position.

“When I was in camp, I saw many different types of people do things. There was one religious man of whom I was in awe. This man had managed to smuggle a Siddur (Jewish prayer book) into the camp. I was amazed that he took the risk of his life in order to bring the Siddur in.

“The next day, to my horror, I realized that this was no religious man. He was renting the Siddur in exchange for people giving him their last piece of bread. I was so angry with this Jew, how could he take a Siddur and use it to take a person’s last piece of bread away? So I am not going to pray, if this is how religious Jews behave.”

As Wiesenthal turned to walk away, Rabbi Silver tapped him on the shoulder and gently said in Yiddish, “Oy naar, naar.” Wiesenthal was intrigued why had the Rabbi called him childish. The answer wasn’t long in coming.

Rabbi Silver continued, “Why do you look at the manipulative Jew who rented out his Siddur to take away people’s last meals? Why do you look at that less-than-noble person? Why don’t you focus on the dozens of Jews who gave up their last piece of bread in order to be able to use a Siddur? To be able to talk to G-d? Why don’t you look at those awesome people who in spite of all their suffering still felt they can connect to their Creator?”

Wiesenthal joined the service and shared the story some 60 years later.

It is with immense gratitude to G-d that we are grateful for the miracles we just witnessed here in South Florida.

Pour out your heart like water before the presence of the Lord!

Equally important: There is a lot of pain in the world and especially in the Bahamas right now. But so many of us have so much to be thankful for. We have so many blessings. Don’t forget the giver of these blessings. Express your gratitude to G-d.   

Try it out. Reopen a conversation with G-d, daily, weekly or bi weekly. Learn to say thank you for your blessings, and learn to share your concerns and pains.

Please Join us for High Holidays Services — Rosh Hashanah (Sept. 30 – Oct. 1) and Yom Kippur (Oct. 9).

Rabbi Tzvi Dechter is the director of Chabad of North Broward Beaches, located in the Venetian Isle Shopping Center at 2025 E. Sample Rd. in Lighthouse Point. For all upcoming events, please visit www.JewishLHP.com.

Comments are closed.

Advertise Here
Advertise Here

front page

COVER