Vaera 5783: Planting Seeds to Build Our Future with Bitachon in Tefillah

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The Avos Built with an Eye on the Future

We have to learn from our avos, Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov, that we need to develop in every area of our lives. The avos built the future of Klal Yisrael. Their whole outlook and their whole avodah was with an eye on the future. It’s not the pshat that the avos were great Jews, super Yidden, and therefore they got a present, and were blessed with good children. That’s how we may see it. When we see a guy has good kids, what do we say? “Oh, he got a brachah. He went to a rebbe. He went to a tzaddik. He went to some kever. Maybe he did a good deed.” You have to realize the avos were called avos. Do you know what avos means?

The gemara (Bava Kamma 2a) says: אבות מכלל דאיכא תולדות, which means, the whole avodah of the avos was laying the groundwork. Klal Yisrael can grow as big as the avos planted, as big as a seed that the avos developed and planted. That’s as much as Klal Yisrael can become and develop out of it that potential, contained in that seed. Chazal (Shir HaShirim Rabbah 8:9) tell us אני חומה.[i] Avraham Avinu said: אני חומה, I’m a wall, ושדי כמגדלות. Do you know what that means? The fact that I’m a wall is not enough. I want to make sure that I have enough koach to nourish the future of my descendants; אני חומה means, “I’m a wall. I’m not shaky.” It’s not one day azoi and one day azoi. I’m a wall and the wall is solid. It’s not going anywhere.[ii]

Now, let me explain something. We need to understand this, because every one of us will face challenges in our lives. As bachurim you will face the challenge of finding a shidduch. After marriage, you may face a nisayon of children. A fellow tells me, “I need a shidduch.” I say, “Do you daven?” What do they answer? “Oh, sure.” “So what do you think happened?” “Well, I don’t know.” You know what they don’t realize? They never davened with the perspective and outlook of, “I need to daven to the point that my seed is complete and then the shidduch can burst forth.” That’s the pshat. You may have to daven fifty times, or more.

Imagine Avraham Avinu. Look how Avraham Avinu had to daven for a child.Try to imagine it. If we saw him, we’d probably say to Avraham Avinu, “Are you still davening?” Avraham would say, “Of course I’m still davening. I davened and I davened and I’m not stopping.” “At what point do you give up?” You know what Avraham would have said? “I have no shaylos. I’m going to have a child. There’s no safek I’m going to have a child.”

But the child that Avraham Avinu needs to produce, has to be created from aza zera, from such a seed, the likes of which you never saw and you can’t imagine. And you’ll say, “Why is that? Isn’t it just X chromosomes with Y chromosomes?” And Avraham would have answered you, “The kind of thing that I’m trying to produce, compared to what you’re trying to produce, is incomparable. You’re producing tadpoles. I’m producing dorei doros lenetzach netzachim.” The seed to produce a Yitzchak, whoa, that seed didn’t just come with eating a little garlic. That seed took aza zera, aza netiyah, aza avodah. If Avraham would have had a child before that, you know what would have happened? Yitzchak would not have been Yitzchak Avinu. It wouldn’t have been the Yitzchak we know. And if Yitzchak would have had kids before he finished davening, it wouldn’t have produced a Yaakov or Shivtei Kah and so on.

Building a Shidduch, a Child, a Talmid

You have to understand this. It’s a whole new perspective. You want a big house? You’ve got to build a big foundation. I remember when we built the yeshivah, I asked the builder, “When are you going to stop digging? Okay, you dug already. It’s enough. Now you’ve got to go veiter.” He responded, “The deeper we dig, the greater the potential. This way we can add on top.” With a big dig, you could always build up more. There will be a great future. But with a little dig, there will be a small future.

That’s what you have to understand. Here’s a person who wants a shidduch. Hashem says, “You need to daven for a shidduch.”

Now, if you’re just a Joe Schmo, so just like every goy finds a shidduch, you’ll also find a shidduch. You don’t daven much for a shidduch like that because that shidduch is nothing special at all. Look at an average goy, he didn’t daven for his shidduch. How come he got a shidduch like this? Do you think that the shidduch that he got and the shidduch that you’re looking for are similar in some way? No, you’re talking about a shidduch. And he’s talking about a friend that’s a nekeivah. You understand, it’s andere zach. It’s eino domeh.

People want to know, “Why do I have to daven for kids?” The answer is, you know, not everybody has the same kids. If a guy didn’t daven for the kids, the kids that come out are not the same kids.

Here is a person davening for their talmidim. How many times are you going to daven for your talmidim? A thousand? Five thousand? So, it’s understandable that there are talmidim and talmidim. There are a lot of yeshivos that have ‘pairs of pants’ in them. Do you know what I mean? The yeshivah consists of hanging pants on this laundry rack, like they have in a dry cleaners business. Put a hanger with your name on it and we’ll be happy to have you. You understand? You go in and you go out. They press some buttons. You stay there for a little while. They process you and press you, and out you go. That’s not development. That’s not called producing somebody that’s lenetzach netzachim (i.e. who will grow and be able to pass it on to the next generation).

The Future Begins From the Seed You Build

You look at Rav Aharon Kotler, zt”l. He had a small yeshivah, but you can be sure he sweated for that yeshivah. He worked hard for that yeshivah. He davened. I have no safek that with his davening, he ripped the heavens up for that yeshivah. And I wonder if the thought ever went through his mind, “What am I doing this for? It doesn’t seem to be happening.”Then he left the world and his son took over. And what did the world say? “Forget it.” I remember what they said. “Rav Aharon is gone. His son is not a continuation of Rav Aharon.” Talmidim came to protest, “He can’t take over. We have to guarantee the future of the yeshivah.” My rosh yeshivah said to them, “Get out of the way! The future is here already. The future has been  planted already. Rav Aharon planted the future.”

Take a look at the Brisker Rav. It’s לא יאומן כי יסופר. You know how many talmidim he had? He used to sit with his five sons. If he had five others, it was a nes. He didn’t just take anyone. He had to kler,“Whatkind of talmid is this? This one is a maschil.” He was klering shaylos, working with people, handling people. You know what you have today as a result? One of the biggest institutions in the world! It doesn’t make any sense. It’s not what you call a warm, lovey dovey yeshivah. It’s not one of those yeshivos where they’re giving you sweets. They’re not a partying yeshivah. It’s a rough and tumble yeshivah. But it’s not the kids that planted it. It’s the father who planted it. It’s the father who plants. The kids, they’re the flowers that have come out.

When you look at a beautiful apple, it’s not because the leaves are so beautiful. It’s not because of the branches. We don’t say: “This is such a thick branch, that’s why the apples come out good.” It’s because the roots are good roots. With good roots, you produce good results.

Have you ever seen an ostrich egg? I went to Whole Foods, a store that specializes in natural foods once, to look around at some of the pelei habriah. One of the things they had for sale was an egg for $16. That was back then. It’s probably more now. They charged $16 for one egg. What egg is this? It’s an ostrich egg. It looked like a ball. It was a monster. It looked like a small cantaloupe. I remember holding it in my hand and a person said to me, “What do you do with that thing?” I said, “I’m trying to figure it out.” You look at an ostrich egg, and think to yourself. What’s going to come out of here? Not a little chick. What’s going to come out is a feste ostrich!Have you ever seen chicken eggs? They’re tiny little eggs, out of which come little chicks.

“No Pain, No Gain”

This is planting. This is the netiyah, Rabosai. The guy who gets married and his kids come right away, or the shidduch comes right away or his gelt comes right away, it means it’s a small planting. “What do you mean?” you ask. Well, do you want parnasah? Do you know how much you’ve got to daven to Hashem to give you some parnasah? Not like a small planting. That’s what you have to understand. But what happens is, you have no emunah and you have no bitachon, so you daven onlyonce, or twice, or five times, or ten times.

Imagine if Hashem would have given kids to Avraham immediately. “You know Avraham, you want kids so badly. Okay, you come to Me and say אנכי הולך ערירי למה לי חיים. Okay, here you go. I gave you one already. You like that one? I gave you Yishmael. You see that little tzatzke? And I made you throw him out of the house even though he was born from Hagar who was the talmidah of Sarah Imeinu.” Look what they produced. Was there any sweat in that kid? No sweat. It was mazel tov, and she was pregnant. Vateiled, and she gave birth and out came little Mr. Yishmael! You understand? And the guy was a pere adam, a chayah ra’ah. The guy was a monster. We’re suffering from him until today. This is what it is. This is the result of when it comes easy. This is what you have to understand, Rabosai. It’s a moradige zach. When you daven for something and it doesn’t work, you have to ask whether you believe it’s going to come. That’s the first thing you have to know. You have to believe it’s going to happen. You have to know, if you daven, something is going to happen! That’s part of the process. Now how many times do you have to daven? 500 times, but it will happen. It didn’t happen yet, because the seed you’ve got to produce is not yet developed. What it’s going to take for you to produce the good kids that Hashem wants to give you, has not been completed yet.

How To Make Your Tefilos Produce Results

Listen to this moradige gemara in Brachos (32b):אמר רבי חנין אמר רבי חנינא כל המאריך בתפילתו, anybody who is ma’arich betefilaso, אין תפילתו חוזרת ריקם, his tefilah will not come back without a response. You hear this?! Do you hear this gemara?! It’s like a guarantee! כל המאריך בתפילתו, if a person is ma’arich betefilaso, he will be answered. Who do we learn this from? From Moshe Rabbeinu.[iii]

We think, “Okay, I davened once. It didn’t work. I davened twice. It didn’t work. Three times.” It’s like I tried to open a bottle and did not succeed, it means I have to try a little harder. Finally on the 20th time – it finally opens. That is what you can call “building.” That is a foundation. That’s what I’m trying to tell you. Once you daven, if you’ve got the right ‘egg,’ it’s going to produce.

We learn this from Moshe Rabeinu. You know how many tefilos Moshe Rabeinu had to daven? 515. And all of a sudden, there was a ‘nuclear explosion.’ Hashem said, “You’re not going into Eretz Yisrael. You can forget about it.” Hashem tells Moshe to forget about it. It’s just not happening. Moshe Rabeinu said, “I’m going to build a foundation for this nuclear bomb, and I’m going to pound with everything I’ve got. I’m going to produce a hydrogen or nitrogen atom bomb, that my desire will come through. At 515 tefilos Hashem says, “Stop! Whoa! Hold on. רב לך.” You know what Moshe Rabeinu says? “I got it. I did it.” Moshe Rabeinu did it. His ‘seed’ was finished, complete and ready. His roots were finished, complete and built. Hashem said, “It’s a technical detail. I’m not letting you go into Eretz Yisrael. You can go up to the top of the cliff. I’ll let you see Eretz Yisrael. I’ll let you do everything. I just can’t let you go in. That you have to understand.” We also find by the Chet Haegel, Moshe davened and davened, until he was answered. 

Now, the gemara (ibid) asks a kushya on this.[iv] Zugt the gemara: how could that be, eini, it’s not so! והא אמר רבי חייא בר אבא אמר רבי יוחנן כל המאריך בתפילתו ומעיין בה – according to Rabbi Yohanan, a person who is ma’arich in his tefilah and who’s מעיין בה. First, what does it mean that he’s מעיין בה? It means he expects to get answered right away. So says the gemora, if that’s the case, then סוף בא לידי כאב לב, in the end, he’s going to come to a ke’ev lev (heart ache). שנאמר תוחלת ממשכה מחלה לב. You hear that? When a guy expects something, it will give him a weak heart. So the gemara says מאי תקנתיה, when you’ve got a weak heart, is there any cure for that weak heart? Simply backing off from davening won’t help you because your heart is already weak. The Gemora answers: יעסוק בתורה עץ חיים היא –  he should engage in Torah study, as it is stated: “But desire fulfilled is the tree of life,” (Mishley 13:12) and tree of life is nothing other than Torah, as it stated: “It is a tree of life to those who cling to it, and those who support it are joyous” (Proverbs 3:18). That’s what it says. So the obvious stirah (contradiction) is that, in one place it says if you’re ma’arich betefilah, you’re not going to get turned away empty handed, while the other gemara says if you’re ma’arich betefilah and you expect to get answered, you’re going to have a ‘heart pain.’ So which one is it?

The gemara answers: לא קשיא, it’s not shver. הא דמאריך ומעיין בה, if you’re ma’arich and you’re מעיין בה then you’re going to get a weak heart, a sick heart. Rashi says, what does that mean? מצפה, if you wait, שתעשה בקשתו, that Hakadosh Baruch Hu should fulfill your request, על ידי הארכתו, because you were ma’arich, סוף, the end will be, שאינו נעשית, it’s not necessarily going to happen. ונמצאת תוחלת ממושכה חנם, it comes out you had this long drawn out wait for nothing. והיא כאב לב, it’s going to give you a weak heart, כשאדם מצפה, when a man waits for something, ואין תאותו באה – his desire is not fulfilled.

This is a very, very fundamental gemara and you have to know the details, the nuances. One gemara says if you daven, you can expect you’re going to be answered. There’s no such a thing as not getting answered. The other gemara says if you daven, and you expect to get answered, you’re metzapeh that your request should be fulfilled, you’re going to have heart pain. Zugt the gemara, if you daven and you expect to get answered, that’s not good. הא דמאריך, but if a person is ma’arich ולא מעיין בה, he’s not metzapeh for the answer, that is praiseworthy, and the guy is guaranteed to be answered.

But we have to understand this clearly. When a person davens, can he expect to be answered or not? Can I have emunah and bitachon that Hashem will fulfill my requests? The answer is yes! Otherwise, how can the first Gemora say אין תפלתו חוזרת ריקם?! So then why does the second Gemora say that a person should not be מעיין or be מצפה for his tefillah to be answered? The pshat is that you have no idea when you’re going to be answered. You don’t know how much it’s going to take to create that seed that will produce the thing you’re requesting. So if you daven and expect immediate results, that will only bring you heartache.[v]

Crying For a Shidduch

I remember davening for a shidduch. I’ll reveal to you that I actually cried. I’m not a crier usually. It was real. But I had no idea when the shidduch was going to come. It came the next day. It was shocking to me. I had been in Lakewood for five weeks, and I wasn’t married yet. Every night people were getting engaged. I remember thinking that everybody’s getting married here, which the truth of the matter is, very few were getting married, and many were waiting around, תוחלת ממשכה. Everybody was having מחלה לב, waiting when their “Moshiach” was going to come. Every night in yeshivah they would sing a yasis by supperand it was mamash painful. It was painful.

I came home and asked my parents, “What’s going on? Any news?” My mother said, “Nothing yet.” I said, “What do you mean nothing yet. What do you mean? The line should be out the door.” My mother said, “We got phone calls, but it’s not what we’re looking for.”

I remember I cried. I remember thinking that it was an unusual zach. It was not a mature response, but I felt I was going to be a bachur for the rest of my life. I remember my father told me, “You know, it hasn’t been that long. It’s only been five weeks since you arrived in Lakewood. You’re not exactly an old man.”

The next day the shidduch showed up. Now I didn’t expect it to come the next day. I had no dream it was happening the next day. Butyou have to have emunah and bitachon it’s going to happen. If you daven and you think, “It’s going to happen now because I had emunah and bitachon,” you’re going to get a heartache. You know why? Because you’ve got to build a seed. You’ve got to develop a seed. You’ve got to build a future. You’ve got to have the foundation. You’ve got to have the nucleus, that everything comes from, finished. You hear that? [vi]

Hashem Likes Nudnikkim

The gemara (Ibid) goes on to say over there אמר רבי חמא ברבי חנינא אם ראה if a person sees שהתפלל, that he davened, ולא נענה and he wasn’t answered, what should he do? Now what’s the shaylah? You know what the shaylah is? The guy davened and he wasn’t answered, so maybe he should say, “Now it’s time to trust Hashem.” Right? Leave it up to Hashem. I did my job. I sent Hashem my message. He knows I’m looking. I made Him aware of the fact that I’m looking. I acknowledged the fact that it’s coming from Him. He’s going to help me. Then you sit back, sit tight and wait. Isn’t that what you’d tell the guy? You know what the gemara says? Nein. יחזור ויתפלל. Daven again, שנאמר קוה אל ה׳ חזק ויאמץ לבך וקוה אל ה׳. What does that mean to say? It means as follows. Because you davened,it doesn’t mean you created what it takes to produce what you’re trying to produce. What you’re trying to get with your tefilah, it could be once is not enough. It’s got to be twice, three times, four times, five times. You know it’s going to come. It will come. But the guy who gives up hope, that means he has no emunah and bitachon and he doesn’t think he’s building anything. He tells himself, “I asked once already. How many times can I ask?” If you ask ten times you’re just a nudnik. By Hashem you are not a nudnik. That’s the chiddush over here.

You should know another thing. A person who davens and expects to get answered right away, is exactly why he shouldn’t get answered. Not only will he be disappointed and end up with a sick heart, that’s the very reason why he won’t be answered. The gemara says in Brachos (55a), שלשה דברים, there are three things that are מזכירים עונותיו של אדם, that remind Hashem of a person’s sins. One of them is עיון תפילה, the guy who is me’ayin in his tefilah. That means he davens and expects to get answered. You know why? Rashi says because in shamayim they say, “Oh, this guy is botuach in his zechusim that he should be answered.” Because he davened, he’s batuach. He’s certain already. He’s saying to himself, “That’s it. I made my request. I’ve done all it takes to get my request answered.” So they say, “You know what, let’s look at his ‘portfolio.’ Let’s look at the guy’s file.” (see footnote # 5)  That’s meakev his tefilah. That’s why Chazal (Tehillim 27:13) tell us לולא האמנתי, I had emunah, ‘לראות בטוב ה, don’t worry. It’s going to happen. If you look back in your life, if you ever davened for things, you’ll see that most of your tefilos were answered.

You have to know the rule, that your future is guaranteed. But you may have to daven and get to the point that you guarantee your future. Just because my future is guaranteed, it doesn’t mean that now it’s guaranteed. I have to make sure that I do what it takes from my perspective, from my side, to make and guarantee my future.

Constant Chizuk for a Great Foundation

The gemara (Berachos 32b)says תנו רבנן ארבעה צריכים חיזוק, there are four things that need chizuk. Rashi says, what does that mean? שיתחזק אדם בהן תמיד בכל כחו. They are תורה ומעשים טובים תפלה ודרך ארץ.

Rav Yerucham says (Daas Torah, Parshas Vaeira),[vii] what does that mean? It means you need to create. Because you learn Torah, that doesn’t mean your future in Torah is guaranteed. Torah is something you have to learn and learn and learn and learn. It demands a very deep foundation in order to guarantee its future. Torah is very big stuff. To be zocheh to Torah does not come easy. If a guy is mesrapeh, a guy is going to take it lightly, he’s not going to have any future in his Torah. He didn’t guarantee his future by davening and completing the seed for his own success. Even if a guy learns and he doesn’t chap what he’s learning, don’t give up. He has to be batuach it’s going to come, but al yedei chizuk. What’s the siman you’re batuach? The siman is you don’t give up.

Now by derech eretz it says the same thing. Listen to how Rashi explains what derech eretz means in this gemara (ibid). Says Rashi: says אם אומן הוא לאומנתו אם סוחר הוא לסחורתו אם איש מלחמה הוא למלחמתו. Do you know what that means? Let’s say a guy has a craft. ואם סוחר, he’s a salesman, לסחורתו. Zugt Rav Yerucham it’s a pliadike zach. When it comes to parnasah, you see mamash hashgachas Hashem. What happens? You have people who never dealt in any field except for theirs. All of a sudden, they have one job and the job is not working out. They’re not making the money they expected to. So what do they say? “I picked the wrong job. Oh, it’s the economy.” So what do they do now? They go to another job. They switch. They call it changing careers. That’s what they call it. They keep on changing, and these people become changers. And they never have menuchah. Then there are some people who say, “I have one job and I’m not moving from this job.” They choose that and they don’t leave it. Here’s a person who teaches himself a certain parnasah, and it’s a pelah. It’s like he’s forcing Hashem to support him through that parnasah. But maybe Hakadosh Baruch Hu wants you to be a plumber? Maybe He wants you to be a carpenter? Maybe He wants you to be a lawyer. How do you know what Hashem wants you to be? You know what the teretz is? The proof is in your persistence and stubbornness. He says that a person has to know, that what Hakadosh Baruch Hu wants, is that if a person is mesakesh (persists) and he chooses his future in some umnus (craft), Hakadosh Baruch Hu will satiate, will be masbia [person’s] retzono and He’ll be mefarnes him in the parnasah that he chooses! Do you know why? Because the asid – the future that you create for yourself with your ameilus – that’s where you’ll be zocheh. Because you laid the foundation. This, he says, is the secret of emunah and bitachon.[viii]

There’s a famous Chovos Halevavos (שער הביטחון, הקדמה מג).[ix] Remember this Chovos Halevavos. It’s a moradige Chovos Halevavos. It’s in his hakdamah to Sha’ar HaBitachon. He says one of the prushim, one of these tzaddikim, traveled to a faraway country to look for parnasah. He then was young in his prishus. He was just starting off as a tzaddik. He was a budding tzaddik.

He goes to that country and he meets a goy, and the tzaddik says to the goy, “You know how blind you people are!? I mean, how do you worship these narish avodah zarah?!”This goy replies, “Then what are you worshiping?” The tzaddik says, “I worship הבורא היכול המכלכל, the one who supports the world, מכלכל חיים בחסד, who feeds the world and runs the world. Ein kamohu!” The goy says to him, “Your actions contradict your beliefs!” So the tzaddik says, “What are you talking about?” He says, “If what you said was emes, you think Hashem couldn’t provide your parnasah in your own city? You had to come to this country. You know what kind of tirchah it was for you to come here?” The guy all of a sudden closed his mouth. He went back to his city, and he never again left his city. What is he telling us? Guarantee your future right there. If you believe Hashem is going to mefarnes you, build your future where you are. You don’t have to go anywhere else.

Let’s say a person wants to win the lottery. If a person taka has emunah he’s going to win the lottery, he could win the lottery. But you’ve got to daven, nachamol daven and not to be metzapeh, “Today, I’m winning it!” You can say, “Ulai hayom. Im lo hayom ulai lemachar. Maybe today? If not today, maybe tomorrow.But I know it’s going to happen. That’s how a person has to daven.

Rav Yerucham says an eye-opening lesson.[x] That’s the middah of the avos. Every one of us has to live with this credo: “We don’t have to do everything the avos did.” Some things come easy for us. And some things we’re forced to do. Whatever cheshbonos shamayim are. When you have children, to have healthy children, to have children that shteig os, that’s a very big job.For that you’ve got to lay down really good, strong foundations. The Steipler was once telling somebody about davening for their children. The Steipler told him “Ad hayom I daven for my Chaim, every single day I daven.” You know how old Rav Chaim Kanievsky was at that time? 50. He was already Rav Chaim Kanievsky. The whole world knew about him already. But every day, the Steipler davened for him!

The Brisker Rav used to daven for his children throughout the day, numerous kapitlach of Tehillim. At the end of his life, when he met Rav Shach, he told Rav Shach, “What am I going to the next world with?” Rav Shach said, “You have a pretty nice family. Very few people have a family like you do. You’ll be riding in on a nice chariot with pretty nice horses attached to it.” The Brisker Rav said, “No. I worked for that. That was my work. I had to work for that.” They didn’t understand what he was talking about. “What do you mean you worked for that?” He said, “Do you know how much I davened for them? Do you know how much effort I put into them?” I don’t know what kind of taneisim he was mekabel, what kind of sigufim, what kind of kabalos he made. I can’t imagine what he did to have those children! So he felt, “I worked for it. I had emunah, and I’m going to get it. Okay, I got it.” A person has to understand, this is a whole different picture. It’s not that the Brisker Rav was medakdek in matzos and in krias shema, so Hashem said, “I’m going to give you a present, a freebie! You’ll have nice kids.” He had to produce. The seeds that he needed to produce to have those children were greater, because he continued putting his ko’ach into them. It was an ongoing process that continued way after those children were born.

He Davened All His Life, Hashem Answered Him

Rabosai, let’s build our futures. Let us start to focus on the seed we want to produce. When you look back you’ll say, “You know this is a zach I davened for.”

I’ll never forget when I was inspired to this nekudah. It was a number of years ago when a soldier was kidnapped in Eretz Yisrael, and the Jewish world was gripped with fear and anxiety. He was kidnapped by the Arabs. His name was Nachson Wachsman, a young boy, 18, 19 years old. Eventually, the Israelis discovered where he was being held and decided to break in and try to free him, but it didn’t work out as planned, and he was killed.

Now, they had Klal Yisrael davening for him, frum, frei, Eretz Yisrael and all over the world. 50,000 women were mekabel to start lighting candles for this kid! The list of  people who undertook such kabalos was so great. I mean since matan Torah. I don’t know if there was ever such a hisorerus in Klal Yisrael. In every mall, in every ad, that was the topic. It was unbelievable. People were taking on learning time, mitzvos and being moisef mitzvos, new mitzvos. And he died. It was the most heartbreaking thing.

And his father got up to speak. His father was a simple working man. He said, “People ask me if I’m disappointed. They say, look how hard we tried. Where was your G-d? Where was your Hashem?” I remember he said a moradige zach. It made a tremendous roshem on me. He said, “Let me tell you something. All my life I davened to my Hashem.” And he started to enumerate the things he davened to Hashem for. It shook me up. He said, “I davened to graduate school. I davened to find a nice shidduch. I davened to pass my tests with good marks. Hashem said. ‘Yes, yes.’ I davened to have children. ‘Yes.’ I davened for parnassah, and again Hashem said, ‘Yes.’” He gave a list of the things he davened for. He said, “Almost everything I’ve asked Hashem for in my life Hashem said, ‘Yes.’ A father is entitled to say ‘no’ once in a while, especially if He says ‘yes’ so many times. He understands better than me. That’s where my Hashem is.”

He made such a kiddush Hashem! I cried when I read that. I read it again and again. I was mamash choked up. I was thinking, how many frum people, heimish people could say that? He wasn’t a yeshivishe guy. He was American. I was thinking, how many people could say they davened to Hashem to graduate? How many people could say they davened to Hashem for a shidduch? What do you mean you davened for  a shidduch?! You went out and you got a shidduch!

In this case, you would have thought the guy should say, “I finally davened to Hashem and He didn’t answer me.” It wasn’t like that, because he davened to Hashem all his life. The way he saw it, only one time Hashem said, “No.”

How Much You Build, That’s How Much Schar There Is

Rabosai, let’s do this. Let’s build our foundations. Let’s develop our seeds. Let’s do what we’ve got to do. Let’s have the emunah and bitachon that it’s going to happen. You have to have emunah and bitachon. If it happens mimeilah, and you’re not part of the process, then you’re not going to be getting sechar for it.

Here’s one guy who gets married and , the malachim, his zeidas are tantzing in shamayim. Another guy gets a shidduch and you know what his zeida is doing? A big yawn. What’s the chiluk? Because in one it ‘just happened.’ Hashem had a reason why plonis had to marry ploni. But did they do anything to be a partner with Hashem? No. Here’s a person who has a kid and in shamayim it’s a tremendous simchah. You know why? Because that kid was like Yitzchak. When Avraham Avinu and Sarah Imeinu produced Yitzchak, you know what kind of avodah that was? You know what kind of sechar Avraham got for that? Unbelievable! But when we produce kids, what kind of sechar should we get for that? What do you mean sechar? Sechar for what?

A goy once told me, “I have frum kids and I deserve credit.” A goy mamash. I told him, “You’re not getting any credit for that, buddy.” The guy said, “Why?” I said, “You have frum children in spite of you, not because of you. Did you pray that your kids should be frum? Did you finance your kids to be frum? Did you encourage them to be frum? No. So they turned out frum and now you want the credit.” I told him, “That’s what all the goyim and the Romans are going to say.” It says le’asid lavo the goyim are going to come to Hashem and they’re going to say, “We want sechar.” Hashem will say, “For what?” “Look, what we did for the world. It’s all for the Yidden,” they will claim. Hashem says, “Shakranim. Shotim. You didn’t do it for the Yidden. I was doing it for them. Rabosai let’s get sechar. Let’s be a participant. Let’s build. Let’s guarantee our futures. 

The Bottom Line

Our Avos Hakadoshim and other great ‘builders’ of Klal Yisroel, produced great children, families, talmidim, and institutions – not simply because they were blessed with exceptional abilities. It was mainly because they worked non-stop on developing every area of their lives and had an unwavering bitachon in the future kiyum of their actions. They managed to create strong, foundational roots and “seeds” with which to plant and build further. Preparing ourselves to produce future generations is a lengthy, arduous process. It takes a lot of davening, efforts in ruchnius and personal sacrifice. While we cannot know the amount of work it will take to produce these “seeds,” we should have bitachon that when our davening and avodah will reach that level, we will be answered – if not today, then tomorrow, and if not tomorrow, then at some future point. If after having davened numerous times we don’t get answered, we should strengthen our resolve to continue davening again and again and take the apparent lack of response as a sign that perhaps we haven’t yet prepared ourselves sufficiently to produce that pure “seed.” In the zechus of internalizing these timeless lessons about the importance of our davening, efforts, and bitachon, for the spiritual development of our children, talmidim, or projects for Klal Yisroel, may we see much siyata d’Shmaya in these endeavors, and im yirtzyeh Hashem, the real “fruits of our labor” will sprout in our lifetime, because of the pure seeds that we planted, amen.

[i] אני חומה ושדי כמגדלות אז הייתי בעיניו כמוצאת שלום (שיר השירים ח׳:י)

[ii] “אם חומה היא נבנה עליה טירת כסף וגו’ ” [שיר השירים ח:ט], אם חומה היא, זה אברהם, אמר הקדוש ברוך הוא אם מעמיד הוא דברים כחומה, נבנה עליה טירת כסף, נצילנו ונבנה אותו בעולם. “ואם דלת היא נצור עליה לוח ארז”, אם דל הוא ממצוות ומטלטל מעשיו כדלת, נצור עליה לוח ארז, מה צורה זו אינה מתקימת אלא לשעה אחת, כך איני מתקים עליו אלא לשעה אחת. אני חומה, אמר אברהם לפני הקדוש ברוך הוא: אני חומה, ואעמיד מעשים טובים כחומה, ושדי כמגדלות, שאני עתידה להעמיד כתים כתים וחבורות של צדיקים כיוצא בי בעולמך. אז הייתי בעיניו כמוצאת שלום, אמר לו הקדוש ברוך הוא, כשם שירדת לכבשן האש כך אני מוציאך בשלום, הדא הוא דכתיב (בראשית טו, ז): אני ה’ אשר הוצאתיך מאור כשדים.

[iii] אמר רבי חנין אמר רבי חנינא: כל המאריך בתפלתו, אין תפלתו חוזרת ריקם. מנא לן – ממשה רבינו, שנאמר: ״ואתפלל אל ה׳״, וכתיב בתריה: ״וישמע ה׳ אלי גם בפעם ההיא״.

[iv] איני. והא אמר רבי חייא בר אבא אמר רבי יוחנן: כל המאריך בתפילתו ומעיין בה – סוף בא לידי כאב לב, שנאמר: ״תוחלת ממשכה מחלה לב״. מאי תקנתיה – יעסוק בתורה, שנאמר: ״ועץ חיים תאוה באה״, ואין עץ חיים אלא תורה, שנאמר: ״עץ חיים היא למחזיקים בה״. לא קשיא, הא דמאריך ומעיין בה. הא דמאריך ולא מעיין בה.

[v] Ed. note: In other words, the problem with iyun in the tefillah is not necessarily that it will prevent the tefillah from being answered, but just the expectations for immediate results will cause problems (and perhaps also make the person stop davening when he should really be davening additional tefillos). L’maseh, this Gemora could be explained differently, that the iyun in the tefillah and confidence that he will be answered may arouse the din in shamayim to check whether he is worthy, as stated in Berachos 55a (cited by Tosafos). Both of these points may be true.

[vi] A talmid asked a question here (paraphrased), of whether one should not hope that their shidduch should come right away, to which Rav Brog responded: “You could hope it comes right away, but you can’t expect it to come right away. There is a difference between hoping and expecting.”

[vii] ושם עוד בגמ’: “תנו רבנן ארבעה צריכין חזוק ואלו הן תורה ומעשים טובים תפילה ודרך ארץ וכו’ “, עיי”ש בפנים. והענין בכולם, כי צריך האדם להיות בטוח בהעתיד כדבר ודאי, שע”כ הוא מחזיק בו בחוזק ולא מתרפה בשום אופן, וזהו שחשיב שצריך האדם להתחזק בתורה, צריך הוא ללמוד קודם לכן, להיות בטוח בעתידה של השגת התורה, ואף אם ילמוד ולא ישיג אל יתיאש ממנה, אלא בטוח יהיה כי השג ישיג, וזהו שאנו לומדים מהכתוב רק חזק וכו’, שאל יתרפה בשום אופן, כי אם יתחזק בה, ובודאי ישיג מטרתו, מפני שהעתיד כבר בטוח הוא, ויזכה אותו על ידי שהוא בטוח בו, והסימן על זה הוא, מה שאינו מתרפה, ומתחזק בדוקא להשיג אותו העתיד הבטוח. וכן שאר הדברים כולם מאותו הענין הוא. ובענין “דרך ארץ” פירש”י: “אם אומן הוא לאומנתו, ואם סוחר הוא לסחורתו וכו’ “.וזה באמת דבר נפלא, שרואים ממש השגחה חושית בעניני פרנסה. הנה ישנם אנשים שמעולם לא עסקו בעסק אחד, כשרואים איזו אי הצלחה במעשיהם, תולים החסרון בזו האומנות, ולוקחים עצמם לעסוק בשניה, וכך הם ממירים ומחליפים עסקיהם רבות פעמים כל ימי חייהם באין כל מנוחה. וישנם אנשים שתמיד הם אוחזים בעסק אחד, מחזיקים בעסק שבחרו להם ואינם מניחים ידיהם ממנו, וגם בו מרויחים למדי. הנה האדם לומד לעצמו איזו אומנות להתפרנס ממנה, ולכאורה הוא כביכול כמטיל על הקב”ה שיפרנסו דוקא על ידי אומנות שהוא בחר בה, והלא אפשר שהקב”ה לא רצה לפרנסו דוקא על ידי מלאכה זו שהוא בחר בה, והוא לכאורה כאיש מתעקש, אבל ידע האדם נאמנה, כי אמנם כך רצה הקב”ה שאם יתעקש האדם ויבחר את עתידו באיזו אומנות שירצה בדוקא, כי אז הקב”ה ישביע רצונו ויפרנסו בזו אשר הוא בחר, כי כן סוד הענין שבאותו העתיד שאדם בטוח בו הוא אמנם זוכה בו; על ידי זה גופא שבטוח הוא בעתידו הודאי ומתעקש בו, גם יכול לו, וזוכה בו, אם רק לא יגרום החטא, וכנ”ל. וזהו סוד של אמונה ובטחון, וכו’.

[viii] A talmid asked a question (paraphrase), that if someone’s parnasah is not as good as it was, what should he do? Rav Brog answered: “It means that one of the things that you [put in your foundation] ran out. Your seed ran out. You have to find out what the problem is. You have to study it. Let’s say a person notices that all of a sudden his parnasah in the fieldthat he was in, went down. So he has to see, examine, where he was [lacking] hariosi ma’asei. Where was I mekape’ach my parnasah? A person has to think maybe my seed that I created is not strong enough. You can only get so many apples out of an apple tree. If you have a healthier seed, it will produce better apples, more quality apples. Not every plant produces the same quality of produce. Examine it. Last year we saw this. We made a little test over there. We planted these tomatoes last year. They promised 100 tomatoes out of each plant. We watered it religiously, and we hung it upside down like it said. What did we get? Lokshen. We got some green little stalks that came out laughing at us and gornisht. But I read this year about a guy who built these things in his front yard, like these big horses, and he hung up things and he produced hundreds of tomatoes for all the poor people in the neighborhood. “Come and take tomatoes. I’m doing it just for the poor people.” He produced a lot of tomatoes. It’s the same thing. There is no difference, no magic. Parnasah comes from Hakadosh Baruch Hu, you understand. So you have to be meschazek. In derech eretz you have to be meschazek.

[ix] ונאמר על אחד מן הפרושים כי הלך אל ארץ רחוקה לבקש הטרף בתחלת פרישותו ופגע אדם אחד מעובדי כוכבים בעיר אשר הלך אליה. אמר לו הפרוש כמה אתם בתכלית העורון ומעוט ההבנה בעבודתכם לכוכבים. אמר לו האמגושי ומה אתה עובד? אמר לו הפרוש אני עובד הבורא היכול, המכלכל האחד, המטריף, אשר אין כמוהו. אמר לו האמגושי פעלך סותר את דבריך. אמר לו הפרוש והיאך? אמר לו אילו היה מה שאמרת אמת, היה מטריפך בעירך, כמו שהטריפך הנה, ולא היית טורח לבוא אל ארץ רחוקה כזאת. ונפסקה טענת הפרוש ושב לארצו וקבל הפרישות מן העת ההיא ולא יצא מעירו אחר כך.

[x] וכתוב עוד ב”דעת תורה” שם, וז”ל: וכבר מובא בחה”ל בהקדמת שער הבטחון: “ונאמר על אחד מן הפרושים כי הלך אל ארץ רחוקה לבקש הטרף בתחילת פרישתו, ופגע אדם אחד מעובדי כוכבים בעיר אשר הלך אליה, אמר לו הפרוש כמה אתם בתכלית העורון ומעוט ההגנה בעבודתכם לכוכבים, אמר לו האמגושי ומה אתה עובד? אמר לו הפרוש אני עובד הבורא היכול המכלכל האחד המטריף אשר אין כמוהו, אמר לו האמגושי, פעלך סותר את דברך, אמר לו הפרוש והאיך ? אמר לו אלו היה מה שאמרת אמת היה מטריפך בעירך כמו שהטריפך הנה, ולא היית טורח לבא אל ארץ רחוקה כזאת, ונפסקה טענת הפרוש ושב לארצו ולא יצא מעירו אח”כ”,ע”כ. עיין היטב ונפלא הוא לפי דברינו. אמרו חז”ל (בר”ר צח, יד) “היה יעקב אבינו רואה אותו (לשמשון) וסבור בו שהוא מלך המשיח, כיון שראה אותו שמת אמר אף זה מת – מיד אמר לישועתך קויתי ה’ ” – “אחז עצמו בהעתיד”, בעתידו של הכלל ישראל. וזהו שאמרו שם: הכל בקיווי, דהיינו תקותי בהעתיד הבטוח, וכאמרם ז”ל על תפלה, “קוה” זו תפלה, שמקוה שבודאי יש לו, “חזק”, ו”קוה”, היינו שיחזור ויתפלל, מפני שבטוח הוא על העתיד ובוטח בו. וכל כך גדול הוא כחו של קיווי, וכל כך זוכים על ידי זה, עד שחז”ל (ילקו”ש ח”ב תשי”ט) אמרו “אפילו רשע ובוטח בה’ חסד יסובבנו” – מכיון שבטוח הוא בעתידו זוכה אותו. ואז”ל (שבת לא.) “בשעה שמכניסין אדם לדין אומרים לו צפית לישועה”. וזהו גם ענין שתבעו למשה ואהרן במי מריבה, (במדבר כ, יב) “יען לא האמנתם בי”, היינו שלא הייתם בטוחים בהעתיד הודאי, היה שם איזה הרהור בבטוחיות העתיד, ובזה הוא שחטאו ונכשלו. והוא אמרם ז”ל (עיין רש”י) לא כאבות שלא הרהרו אחרי מדותי, להם הבטחתי ולא קיימתי, ובטחונם בקיום העתיד היה חזק וודאי בלא הרהור כלל, זהו גדלותם של האבות כי העתיד היה מגמת נפשם, הבטיחו העתיד ובטחו בן, ובזה זכו. כבר אמרו חז”ל (תנא דבי אליהו כה) “כל אחד ואחד מישראל חייב לומר מתי יגיעו מעשי למעשי אבותי אברהם יצחק ויעקב”. כל עמלו ישים האדם לדאוג על העתיד, ולהיות בטוח בהעתיד הודאי כמו האבות הקדושים, והבוטח בעתיד הוא יזכה בהעתיד. ותראו נפלאות מתיבה אחת שהוסיף הגרי”ס זצ”ל באגרת המוסר: “בל יחת מהעתיד הודאי”, תמיד יהיה זה נגד עיניו – על העתיד הודאי, לא יתרפה ולא יתרשל, יתפלל ויחזור ויתפלל, כי בודאי הנהו בעדו, יקוה בו ויצפה עליו, שכל עיקר הוא הודאות. ואשרי הבא לדרגא זו, והיינו בקיווי וצפוי, עכ”ל.

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