Thursday, November 24, 2011

the test of tefilah

The parsha tells us that Rivka reacted to the strange kicking in her womb by, "Vateliech li'drosh es Hashem."  Rashi explains that she went to Shem, who was a navi, to ask what was going on (I guess this was the equivalent of a Biblical ultrasound).  Ramban argues and notes that the term "derishas Hashem" usually means tefilah.  Here too, the pasuk means that Rivka davened.    

What was the response?  "Va'yomer Hashe lah...." Rashi interprets to mean that Hashem sent a message to Rivka through Shem explaining that she is going to have twins.  According to Ramban, however, how was Rivka answered?  Was this a nevuah?  

Another Ksav Sofer: The Midrash (cited by Rashi) writes that when Rivka passed a house of idolatry, she felt kicking.  When she passed a beis medrash, she felt kicking again.  Rivka was therefore confused and worried.  If these are two different babies, then it makes sense -- the two have very different inclinations.  However, thought Rivka, what if there is only one baby?  It's wonderful to have a baby that kicks to get out into the beis medrash to learn Torah, but if that same baby also kicks to get out and party when it passes other places, then the Torah is for naught -- it's just an intellectual exercise, a show of brilliance, but there is no real spirituality attached to it.

How could Rivka tell which theory -- two babies or one -- was correct?

The test was to go and daven.  If there was only one baby and that baby's kicking was to get out and enjoy life -- whether it be the enjoyment of intellectual gymnastics that takes place in the beis medrash or the enjoyment of other things in other places -- then that baby would not want to kick to get out for tefilah.  What's the fun in davening?  But if there were two babies, and one wanted to get out not for the enjoyment of olam ha'zeh, but rather because it craved the spirituality of the beis medrash, and the other kicked and wanted  to get out when Rivka passed all those other places, then that first baby would kick even when Rivka went to daven.

And so, through her davening, Rivka knew the answer.

One thought somewhat related to inyana d'yoma that I've blogged about before.  I know from personal experience that to make time for a real tefilah (you know what I mean -- kavanah, putting the time in to think about the words, etc.) on a work day is very, very hard.  There is the train or bus to catch, work that is waiting, there's always traffic, there is the last minute morning disaster that needs attention.  So we all do the best we can.  The real test of whether davening means something is how a person behaves on Sunday, on Thanksgiving or other legal holidays, when there is no work.  That's the test of "Va'teilech lidrosh es Hashem."  The yeshiva minyan does take an extra 15 or 20 minutes, mincha with a full chazaraas hashatz does take an extra five minutes, but today you can spare it.  The yotzei min ha'klal days prove that those other days with the less than ideal tefilah really are the result of dochak and ones.  But if even today you blow through the shacharis in 25 minutes...?  The challenge is to not be taken in by routine, not letting the 25 minute shacharis becomes the norm.  V'nahapoch hu, the 25 minute shacharis is the deviation from what should be.  Speaking for myself, that's a very difficult thing to do, so this is a little reminder.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous1:24 AM

    >>> she is going to have twins

    when Hashem heard Yitzchak's tefilla, He recalled Rivkah's early
    actions by Eliezer, a jug of water
    for the eved himself, & jugs too for the camels-- for the jug
    ("I have everything", 33:11), the
    egg cell for Yaakov; for the jugs
    ("I have plenty", 33:9), the egg
    cell for Eisav; thus who Rivkah once watered, she later nursed--
    like the damascene by his master
    Avraham, Yaakov would one day do whatever ordered by his father-in-law Lavan, while hairy Eisav, like a camel that chews its cud but lacks split hooves, eventually
    "presented a facade of tzidkus" ("bad influence", below)

    but how could Eisav result from a meritorious deed? alas, that deed was other than irreproachable-- just as Sarah, & even the women of Moav, withheld themselves from offering drink in the presence of unknown men ("the kos", nov. 13), so should Rivkah, who helped the eved only after he ran after her, have quit his company when he'd drunk his fill...