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Tuesday, Kislev 1, 5784 / November 14, 2023


Today (Tuesday) is Rosh Chodeshthe first day of the new Hebrew month Kislev. On the 25th day of Kislev begins the eight-day holiday of Chanukah.


In the beginning of this week's Parsha, Toldot, the Torah tells us that Yitzchak (Isaac) and Rivkah were childless for twenty years after their marriage. It was only after Yitzchak and Rivkah prayed that they be blessed with children that Rivkah conceived. She gave birth to twins, Esau & Yaakov.


Prayer is a fundamental and essential part of our Jewish religion. One of the thirteen principles of faith codified by Maimonides is: "I believe with complete faith that the Creator, blessed is His Name, to Him alone is it proper to pray and it is not proper to pray to any other."


Although G-d promised Abraham that from his son Yitzchak a great nation will descent, yet it was only after Yitzchak and Rivkah’s prayers that G-d fulfilled His promise.


Q.In the Parsha, the Torah uses the word "Vaye'etar" to describe Yitzchak's prayer. The usual expression for prayer is "Tefilah". Why does the Torah use the word "Vaye'etar?" 


A.The Talmud explains that “Vaye'etar” is related to the word "Etar" which means a "shovel".  "Rabbi Yitzchak said, 'Why is the prayer of the righteous likened to a shovel? Just like a shovel turns the grain from one place to the other in the granary, so too, the prayer of the righteous turns the dispensation of the Holy One, blessed be He, from restraint to the measure of mercy.'"


Q.Three of the Matriarchs, Sarah, Rivkah and Rachel, were barren and, by the laws of nature, couldn’t have children. Their giving birth was miraculous. Why did G-d make this so? 


A.Our sages explain that G-d wanted our patriarchs and matriarchs to pray to Him, for He loves the prayers of the righteous.


The Talmud tells that Rabbi Elazar, before starting to pray, would make sure to give charity to a poor person.  He would say that one should come before G-d with the mitzvah of Tzedakah (charity).


The Talmudic sage Rosh Lokish says, “Whoever has a house of prayer in his city and does not go there to pray is called a bad neighbor.”


Our sages say, “For everything the Holy One, blessed be He, set a time and season, except for prayer.  For whenever a person prays, they are answered.”


These days we need to intensify in our prayers. Reciting from the Tehillim (Book of Psalms) is a very effective way to express our requests and prayers to Hashem. One should be reciting Psalms on a daily basis and have in mind the hostages, the soldiers, the wounded, and all Jews wherever they are.