Monday, July 8, 2013

Patience and Prayers

Standing at the Kotel it is far easier to concentrate on my prayers than when I am at home. There are no ringing phones or knocks at the door to interrupt me. No sinks full of dirty dishes or overflowing laundry hampers to distract me. No computer keyboards or interesting novels to call to me. It is just me, the Wall, and HaShem.
Recently, while at my special spot I took the time to focus on the words of Ashrei, a beautiful prayer full of praises for HaShem from the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet to the last. As I recited one of my favorite verses, HaShem is close to all who call upon him, to all who call upon Him in truth, a voice from inside mocked me.
It is so easy for you to say these words. Your life is so easy. How about someone with severe health problems, terrible financial difficulties, unable to find a spouse, or with rebellious children?

It was that last example that brought me back straight to reality. More than ten years ago I sat at the Kotel sobbing my eyes out. I had no tissues. No one around me had a tissue. I could not stop crying and my nose would not stop running. What was the source of those tears? Cares and concern about my children!  
At that point I had four children old enough to be married but, not only was no one engaged, no one seemed at all near to meeting the spouse that was meant for them. Perhaps that was the reason for all the tensions between us.

As many of my friends had the joy of taking their children to the chupah and began holding their grandchildren in their arms I was full of doubts. What was the matter with me? Why weren’t my children finding their soulmates? Had I been such a terrible mother? Was HaShem punishing me?
I had no answers to my questions. There was a time when my prayers were rather perfunctory, fulfilling a daily obligation. At this stage I began to pour my heart out to my Maker. Things began to change.     
Nine years ago our middle child became engaged to a wonderful girl. Ten months later his oldest brother married and four months after that his little sister stood under the wedding canopy. Our joy was all the more intense because of our wait. HaShem continued to shower us with blessing and we were full of gratitude when our youngest child recently became engaged.
My elation is bound with intense humility for I cannot forget the woman sobbing at the Kotel. So much has changed for the better in a little more than ten years. Of course, there are still many things I need to pray for: health, successful marriages, self-respect, safety, honest livelihoods, fear of heaven, love of HaShem, and peace for me, my husband, my children, my grandchildren, my friends, my community, and the whole world.
I think I have learned my lesson, though. Time is very relative and what may seem like forever to me is a blink of the eye to HaShem. It is very important not to give up but to continue to plead, beg, and implore Him for what I need.
And now, as we draw close to Tisha B’Av, the sad day when we mourn the destruction of the First and Second Holy Temples, I know we must continue to pray and pray some more for the Temple to be rebuilt. HaShem will answer our prayers. It may take ten days, ten years, ten decades but our prayers will be answered. May He answer them speedily in our days.