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.


Popular posts from this blog

Thought for the Day: Battling the Evil Inclination on all Fronts

Yom Kippur.  When I was growing up, there were three annual events that marked the Jewish calendar: eating matzos on Passover, lighting candles on Chanuka, and  fasting on Yom Kippur.  Major news organizations around the world report on the "surreal" and "eerie" quiet of the streets in even the most secular neighborhoods of Israel.  Yom Kippur.

As you know, I am observant of Jewish law.  Some have even called me "ultra orthodox" (not in a kind way).  Given that, I have a question.  How likely do you think that I would be tempted to eat on Yom Kippur, that most holy day of the year?  Let's make the scale zero to ten, where zero is "as likely as driving through McDonald's on Shabbos and ordering a Big Mac with extra cheese." and ten is "as likely as breathing regularly".  Take your time.  If you answered "zero"; thank you, but -- sadly and penitently -- no.  The answer is more like nine; I'd like to say lower, but i…

Thought for the Day: Coming Into This World for Torah, Avodah, and Acts of Loving Kindness

This TftD is so self-serving that I should be embarrassed.  But I am not... talking about grandchildren is always off budget.  I have, bli ayin hara, a beautiful new grandson; born at 6:11 PM CDT last Friday night.  The secular (aka -- by me, anyway -- slave) date is October 20, 2017 CE.  The Hebrew (aka Real) date is certainly Rosh Chodesh חשון/Cheshvan and certainly in the year 5778 since Creation.  The date, you ask... good question!

Sundown on Friday night was 6:01 PM CDT, which means he was born either at the end of the last day of תשרי or the beginning of the first day of Cheshvan; a period know as בין השמשות/twilight.  What's the big deal, you ask... I am so glad you asked.  We all deal quite handily with בין השמשות every week and every holiday; we're just stringent.  We start Shabbos and the first day of Yom Tov before בין השמשות; that is, before sundown.  Likewise, we end Shabbos and the first day of Yom Tov after בין השמשות; some 42, 50, 60, or 72 minutes after sundo…

Thought for the Day: Prayer II -- How?

Now that we know that the obligation to pray is nothing more (nor less!) than a divine decree, we are going to also need instructions from heaven on how to implement that decree.  I cannot stress enough how important it is to have instruction from heaven how to implement heavenly decrees.  One only needs to look at the shambles that one modern ism has made of the very important Torah principle of תיקון עולם/improving and fixing the world.  They have taken words out of context and used them to support their own nefarious schemes.  (To the point that Google Translate actually translates -- not transliterates -- תיקון עולם as Tikkun Olam.  Amelia Bedelia would be proud; we are not amused.

The Torah teaches us how to pray in two complementary fashions.  One is the way in which the concept is presented as an obligation, the other is by giving us examples of how to practically implement those instructions.

The obligation is introduced in the second paragraph of "sh'ma" -- וּלְ…