Friday, November 9, 2012

Dvar Torah for Parshas Chayei Sarah

       Parshas Chayei Sarah tells the story of Yitzchak meeting his soulmate, Rivka. Avraham sends his servant, Eliezer, to Charan, where his family lived, to find a girl for Yitzchak to marry. The pesukim tell the story of the incredible Hashgacha Pratis, Divine Providence, that accompanied Eliezer on his journey. With every step he took, Hashem was there putting the next piece in place for Eliezer to find Rivka, and bring her back to Yitzchak.
       When Eliezer arrives, the pasuk says that Yitzchak was there to greet them. “וַיֵּצֵא יִצְחָק לָשׂוּחַ בַּשָּׂדֶה לִפְנוֹת עָרֶב וַיִּשָּׂא עֵינָיו וַיַּרְא וְהִנֵּה גְמַלִּים בָּאִים“Yitzchak went out to converse in the field towards evening and he raised his eyes and saw, and behold! camels were coming.” (Bereishis 24:63). The gemarah in Brachos (26b) explains that Yitzchak established the tefillah of Mincha, said in the afternoon, and had gone out into the fields to pray when the caravan arrived. Chazal further explain in Brachos (6b) that you should be more careful to have proper concentration during Mincha since it is a time when prayers are answered.
       The Kli Yakar explains how we see this from our parsha. He begins with a question: We know that Avraham and Yaakov established the tefillos of Shachris and Maariv to be said in the morning and evening, respectively. So how come it is Mincha which is given this extra warning by Chazal to have proper concentration? He answers that unlike by Shachris and Maariv, we see that Yitzchak was answered immediately by Mincha. We can assume that since Eliezer had left to go find him a wife, Yitzchak was most likely davening for his successful mission. While he was davening, he probably had his eyes closed or focused downwards, in order to improve his concentration. When the pasuk says “וַיִּשָּׂא עֵינָיו וַיַּרְא“He raised his eyes and saw”, he had just lifted his eyes from his tefillos and lo and behold, here is Eliezer, together with his bride! From here we see that prayers said by Mincha are answered directly.
       What is special about this time of day that Hashem answers these tefillos more than any other time? Chazal teach us that the Satan only tries to accuse us at night. Maariv, which is said at night, and Shachris which is said just after night, still have some lingering effects of his late-night accusations. Mincha, however, is in the middle of the day, far away from the both the previous and coming nighttimes. Therefore, it is the best time to submit a plea to Hashem.
       This is an important message for us to take as we go on our day to day schedules. Mincha comes at a very inopportune time for many people, right in the middle of the day when everyone is busy working and running around. It is very easy for us to hurry to Shul, grab a Minyan, and continue on with what we were doing. We learn from here that Mincha is our best opportunity of the day to make our tefillos heard! How can we waste such an opportunity simply because we are “busy”? What can be more important than this! We must realize that what we think is our most inconvenient tefillah, is really our biggest opportunity. And maybe that’s exactly the way Hashem wants it. By taking out time from our schedules at the hardest time of the day to concentrate on him, we can show no greater love than that.

Shabbat Shalom!   

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