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Thought for the Day: Kavana for R'fa'einu

The Rinas Chaim points out a difficulty in understanding the intent of the bracha of r'fa'einu.  Namely, since yisurim are m'chaper, why in the world would I pray for an end to them?  While I was going through chemotherapy I never once asked my doctor to stop treating me!  I suffered a lot during the treatments, but I knew they were curing me.  I paid out lots of money, in fact, for my doctor to continue torturing me.  So what really should be my intent during the bracha of r'fa'einu?

When a frum Jew is suffering, it is a chillul HaShem.  The world looks and says, "See!  Following the Torah does not improve one's life; it only brings suffering."  Of course we know that we have sinned and deserve in full measure each ounce of suffering.  But the world doesn't see our sins, they only see the suffering.  We pray, therefore, for an end to our suffering in order that we should not be the cause of any chillul HaShem.  We won't get our badly needed kapara, but it is worth suffering for all eternity in order to not cause damage to HaShem's reputation in this world.  In other words, we are praying to be allowed to endure personal (albeit eternal) suffering in order not prevent the revelation of K'vod Shamayim -- which is, after all, the ultimate purpose of creation.

Given that: why do we get better?  Why would HaShem answer a prayer like that?  He loves us and is obviously willing to suffer (so to speak) the chillul HaShem in order to save us from suffering.  On this point, the brilliance of the  Rinas Chaim is particularly apparent.  How does suffering actually effect a kapara?  By causing us to rethink our ways and do t'shuva -- to become more like HaShem.  By putting HaShem's needs before our own, we are achieving that same purpose, but without the suffering.  The suffering can go away because there is no longer any need for it.

This one example opens up a whole new dimension for our kavana during the entire shmone esrei.  Well, for those of us who have sinned, anyway; the rest of you are on your own.


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