Skip to main content

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.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Thought for the Day: Thanking HaShem Each and Every Day for Solid Land Near Water

Each and every morning, a Jew is supposed to view himself as a new/renewed creation, ready for a new day of building his eternal self through Torah and mitzvos.  We begin the day with 16 brachos to praise/thank/acknowledge HaShem for giving us all the tools we need to succeed.  We have a body, soul, and intellect.  We have vision, mobility, and protection from the elements.  Among those brachos, we have one that perhaps seems a bit out of place: רוקע הארץ על המים/Who spreads out the land on/over the water.  After all, it's nice to have a dry place to walk, but does that compare to the gratitude I have for a working body and vision?  As it turns out, I should; as explained by the R' Rajchenbach, rosh kollel of Kollel Zichron Eliyahu (aka, Peterson Park Kollel).  Your best bet is to listen to the shiur; very distant second is to continue, which I hope will whet your appetite for the real thing.

First... since we have dry land, I don't have to slog to work through even a foot…

Thought for the Day: Using a Mitzvah Object for Non-Mitzvah Purposes

As I am -- Baruch HaShem -- getting older, I am more cognizant of the fact that I'd like to stay as healthy as possible right up the moment I leave this world.  Stuff hurting is not the problem (I am told there is an old Russian saying that once you are 40, if you wake up and nothing hurts -- you're dead), stuff not working, however, is a problem.  To that end, for several years now I commute to work by bicycle (weather permitting, 30 minutes on an elliptical machine when weather does not permit).  I recently took up some upper body weight training.  Not because I want to be governor of California, just simply to slow down loss of bone mass and extend my body's healthy span.  Simple hishtadlus.  I have an 18 month old grandson who is just the right weight for arm curls (yes... I am that weak), so I do about 10 reps when I greet him at night.  He laughs, I get my exercise; all good.  (Main problem is explaining to the older ones why zeidy can't give them the same "…

Thought for the Day: Hydroponically Grown Humans... I Feel Sick

I am quite openly not at all objective about abortion in particular and the treatment of human embryos and fetuses in general.  I am, after all, the survivor of a failed abortion attempt.  Not "thought about it, but couldn't go through with it"; not "made appointment, but then chickened out at the lost moment"; but, "tried a procedure, but was unsuccessful in attempt to abort".  Nonetheless, I try very hard to listen to the liberal arguments (which I also used to chant as part of the general liberal catechism), and am genuinely empathetic to the plight of women who find themselves in that difficult position.

What I heard on NPR this morning, however, has left me feeling physically ill.  You can read about it, if you like, but here's the bottom line:  Scientists in Cambridge have achieved a new record, they fertilized a human ova and then kept it alive in vitro (that is, in a test tube/petri dish in a laboratory) for 14 days.  The scientist involve…