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Thursday, Mar-Cheshvan 30, 5783 (Hakhel Year) / November 24, 2022


Today is the first day Rosh Chodesh of the new month, Kislev


As in every Rosh Chodesh, additional prayers, Hallel and Musaf are added. Although it’s Thursday, a day when we read from the Torah during the morning prayer, yet the reading is not the regular Torah reading of the Parsha of the week, but the special Rosh Chodesh reading.   


In this week's Parsha, Toldot, which we will read on Shabbat, the Torah tells us that Yitzchak and Rivkah were not blessed with children. After twenty years of marriage, G-d answered their prayers for  children and Rivkah conceived. But she had a difficult pregnancy with a constant struggle within her womb.  Rivkah was distressed and regretted wanting to become pregnant.  She went to Noach's son, Shaim, to inquire about the situation.


Shaim told her that she was carrying twins. “There are two nations within your womb. Two people shall come from you and the elder one will serve the younger one." Rivkah gave birth to twins. The first child was called Esau.  Then his brother came forth holding Esau's heel.  He was named Yaakov (Jacob).


Three of the matriarchs: Sarah, Rivkah and Rachel couldn’t have children. Their giving birth was miraculous. Why did G-d make it so that they couldn’t have children by laws of nature? Our sages explain that G-d wanted the matriarchs to pray to Him, for He loves the prayersof the righteous.


There is a lesson in this for us. The very birth of the Jewish nation is related to forces higher than nature.  Sarah gave birth to Yitzchak at the age of 90 defying the laws of nature. Jacob's birth was also related to the prayer of his parents.  Indeed, Jewish existence and survival from the very beginning to this day, was and is connected with prayer and miracles.


Prayer is one of the thirteen principles of Jewish faith, as composed by Maimonides. Prayer is an essential part of Judaism through which we connect to G-d. The mitzvah of prayer is found in the Sh'ma Israel (Hear O' Israel), which we recite every morning and night. "To love G-d your G-d and serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul."  To serve Him with all your heart refers to prayer, which is a service of the heart.


The Talmudic sageRabbi Chama bar Chanina said, "If a person sees that their prayer wasn't answered they shall continue to pray.  One should not get discouraged but continue to pray as long as needed.


Rabbi Yochanan and Rabbi Elazar said, "Even if a sharp sword is actually resting on a man's neck, he should not hold himself back from praying for G-d's mercy!"


Rabbi Ze'era said, "A person who has a friend who beseeches him with his needs and pleas continuously for his help, may come to dislike him and avoid him. But, with the Holy One blessed be He, it is not so.  Rather, the more a person prays to G-d for their needs, the more G-d loves them.