Dec 21, 2009

G-d's Response is Positive

When the topic of prayer comes up and the question as to whether all prayers are answered, people commonly repeat the line: yes, all prayers are answered, but sometimes the answer is no. Sometimes they illustrate this belief with a story of a child who wishes and prays for a bike and some time later is asked: So? Was your prayer answered. And the child says, yes. So where's the bike? Oh, I didn't get it. The answer was no.

I read something which quoted the Baal Shem Tov, though I haven't seen it in the sefer, saying that this belief (the answer "no") is wrong, and that as soon as a prayer is uttered, Hashem answers in the positive.

Wait a minute, you're thinking. How can this be? The answer given is that we don't always get to see the gashmius realization of the "yes," but the answer is "yes" nonetheless, on some plane of existence. For some of us, that's as good as saying no! But apparently there's a difference between "no," and a "yes" we don't see.

Rashi in Ki Sisa 33:19, on the words "and I will have mercy" says, "When I will want to have mercy. Thus far, He only promised him (Moshe) that sometimes I will answer and sometimes I won't answer, but then later 34:10, He promised that the prayers will not chozros reikam (be turned away unfulfilled)."

I read a moving article by the husband (Shaul Rosenblatt) of a woman who died of cancer. He said that after his wife's illness and the harrowing experience they went through, he learned that "no matter what, prayers do not go unanswered. Sometimes the answer is positive in the way you asked for it, and sometimes the answer is positive in a way you didn't ask for it. But the answer is always positive.

He understood the positive answer to his asking Hashem to heal his wife to be yes, in a spiritual sense, and he said, "I was and am envious of the spiritual health that she attained. A few days before she passed away, she said that for the first time in her life, she truly felt that G-d loves her. She has always known it, but had never been able to fully feel it. Now she did... While her body was as sick as could be, her soul was healthier than anyone I had ever met. Even two days before her passing, she said she would not swap places with anyone."

He went on to say, "Why couldn't G-d heal her soul and body at the same time? It's a good question, but we cannot know all of G-d's ways, or we would be G-d Himself... But I do know that G-d healed her ... G-d answered when I called - just not in the way I asked for... We pray. He listens, considers, and decided how best to respond based on who we are and what we need. His answer is always positive."

Isn't this man's perspective just amazing?!

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