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If God Knows All, Why Do We Pray?
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In the story of “The Wizard of Oz”, you have got Dorothy; and she is living with her Aunt and Uncle, and she is not happy. A tornado comes along and flings Dorothy away from her home. And the whole story is how much she wants to go home.
She’s got to follow the yellow brick road; and she’s got to get to this wizard who can help her get back to where she actually came from. And on her way, Dorothy meets a Scarecrow, a Tin Woodman, and the Cowardly Lion; one wants her brain, one wants her heart, and one wants courage. And Dorothy wants to go home.
Basically, they represent everything anybody would want. And there is this one man at the wizard who can deliver their needs. Every step of the way, they are constantly being challenged, and yet the challenges itself created a more and more of the yearning, the anticipation, the deep desire to receive what they are looking for.
Well, finally they get to the wizard and they find out he isn’t really a wizard, he is just a Professor from Kansas. But, he can help them. And specifically he’s got a balloon for Dorothy and he can take Dorothy home. Dorothy is thrilled. She’s been fighting for this, and dreaming about this, and now finally the time has come to go home. And, unfortunately, Dorothy misses her ride home. And she is devastated, she is traumatized.
And who show up? Glinda, the Good Witch. And she is beautiful, and she comes in this bubble. And Glinda says, “Dorothy, what’s wrong?” and Dorothy says, “I want to go home. I miss my Uncle and my Aunt; I want to go home.” And Glinda says, “You know, Dorothy, you can go home. All you have to do is click your heels three times and say, there is no place like home; there is no place like home; there is no place like home.”
And, you know, I have got to tell you, at this point in the film, I got real angry at Glinda. I just couldn’t understand it. Now, you show up. I mean, if I were Dorothy, I would say, “Glinda, you couldn’t have come a lot earlier?” But, you see, Glinda can’t come before you know what you want, and you really, really want it. “Dorothy needed to truly learn that there is no place like home.” “God can’t give us His blessings unless we truly want them.”
You see, imagine I really wanted to prepare for you a surprise dinner; Oh, I would tell you, “Could you please come over maybe at 8 O’clock, I need to talk to you.” So, you are on your way, and you are thinking, “Wow, 8 O’clock is supper, and I really want to be able to focus on what Dave wants to talk to me about. So, you know, I will drop off and I would get myself something to eat so I won’t be hungry.”
So, you get to my home, you associated, I fling open doors of the dining room and there is this incredible gourmet meal of all the foods you love that I have spent days preparing for you. And let’s say you eat it; off course, you wouldn’t want to hurt my feelings, you wouldn’t say anything, you would eat it. Did you get what I wanted to give you? Now, you didn’t get what I wanted to give you. I want to give you pleasure. I wanted to associate you, but you are not hungry, you don’t really want it.
HaShem wants to give us the greatest gift, and the greatest gift that we can ever hope for in our lives is the presence of God. What does it mean to have the presence of God in our lives? Does it mean that we are acting worryingly? Image of God, the Tzelem Elohim, does it mean that God inspires me to act appropriately. But, how about understanding the presence of God? As the presence of the values that God wants us to live, the presence of wisdom, the presence of understanding, the presence of love, and kindness, and peace; the presence of God is the greatest gifts, because the gift of feeling the presence of goodness in a full spectrum of all its colours.
But, for me to be receptive to that gift, I need to really want that. I was shocked to discover that the average American encounters daily something like three thousand commercials. You open up the magazine and there is a commercial, and you walk down the street, and the bus goes by there is another ad there, and you look up there is billboard there, and there is another ad there. People are constantly selling you something and telling you this is what you want, this is what you need.
And so, this is the generation or the more so that we need to get in touch with. What do we want? Rabbi Soloveitchik in Redemption, Prayer and Talmud Torah says, “Mortal man is indeed a slave because he is ignorant and fails to identify is own needs.” We don’t know what we need. We don’t know what’s really worth wanting. Well, the power of Tefillah is a daily exercise to fill our heart, to inspire ourselves to what HaShem wants; and a daily exercise, a visionary thinking, dreaming the dream, anticipating what could be, and wanting what’s really, really worth wanting. Tefillah is the art of receiving.
There is something that HaShem can’t do. He can give us the greatest blessing, but the desires for those blessings have to come from us. “Only when we truly want God’s blessings can God truly share them with us.”
So, therefore, HaShem desires our tefilot, because He so much wants us to want what He is so willing to give us. And when you are one with what is really worth wanting, then your will becomes the very receptacle for all those blessings to download into your life.
Food for thought…
The Talmud Bavli, tractes Yevamot, page 64 on first side states, amar Rabbi Yitzchak mifnei mah hayu avoteinu akurim – Why were the Patriarch sterile? Mifnei sheHakadosh Baruch Hu mitaveh letfilatan shel tzaddikim – This is because the Holy One, blessed be He, desires the prayer of the righteous.”
The Patriarchs did not immediately have children because “God desires the prayers of the righteous.”
Dorothy couldn’t go home until she understood that “there’s no place like home.” How does that help us understand the Talmud?
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