web analytics
December 21, 2014 / 29 Kislev, 5775
 
At a Glance
Judaism
Sponsored Post
8000 meals Celebrate Eight Days of Chanukah – With 8,000 Free Meals Daily to Israel’s Poor

Join Meir Panim’s campaign to “light up” Chanukah for families in need.



Home » Judaism » Parsha »

Human Endeavor And Divine Intervention

Rabbi Avi Weiss

Rabbi Avi Weiss
Photo Credit: Wikipedia

There’s a Talmudic story that reveals a lot about how we should react when facing adversity, and it’s an appropriate one to focus on just days before Tisha B’Av, when both Temples were destroyed in Jerusalem.

The story goes as follows: Rabbi Yossi said, “Once I was traveling on the road and entered one of the ruins of Jerusalem to pray.” Elijah appeared and said, “My son, why did you go into the ruin.” Rabbi Yossi responded, “To pray.” Elijah then said to Rabbi Yossi, “You should have prayed on the road.” Rabbi Yossi answered, “I feared a passerby would interrupt me.” To which Elijah said, “You could have then said a short prayer.”

Rabbi Yossi said he learned several principles from the words of Elijah. First, it is important not to enter a ruin. Second, it is permissible to pray on the road, as long as the prayer is short (Berachot 3a).

What is the message that underlies these principles? Rabbi Shlomo Riskin argues that it’s important to recognize that Rabbi Yossi was a sage who was suffering, living as he did in the aftermath of the destruction of the Temple. The prophet tells us Elijah will announce the coming of the Messiah. Elijah is therefore known as the teacher, par excellence, of how to achieve redemption. Thus, Rabbi Yossi states, “I have learned from Elijah important ideas concerning how to turn destruction into rebuilding, galut into geulah, exile into redemption.”

It is first of all important not to enter into rooms that represent tragedy and not to get sidetracked by wallowing in disaster. Elijah was teaching Rabbi Yossi to stay on the road, remain on the course of human action, and attempt to repair the Jewish people, an act through which the whole world will be repaired.

But Elijah also taught a second message. He was teaching that it is important to pray on that road to redemption. But the prayer itself should be short, in order to make time for investing incredible amounts of energy into human activity and initiative.

Life requires a combination of action and prayer. History is a partnership between human endeavor and divine intervention.

A story is told of Rabbi Isaac Blazer, Reb Itzele Petersburger. One day a rumor spread that he was a Zionist. The community decided he would be fired. After all, in the prayers we speak of God as the builder of Jerusalem. Yet Reb Itzele was declaring that he would do his share in building Jerusalem himself. Reb Itzele turned to one of the leaders of the community and responded, “But when your daughter was sick, did you not seek out a doctor, even though God is spoken of in the prayers as the healer of Israel?” And turning to another, Reb Itzele said, “Don’t you do all you can to make a living, even though in our prayers we speak of God as the provider of sustenance?”

One must act as if everything depends on us and pray as if everything depends on God. We must live a life where we honor both sides of these two seemingly contradictory directives –action and prayer.

As we prepare our prayers for Tisha B’Av we must make them meaningful and sincere, yet realize that full service of God is incomplete without action on our part.

About the Author: Rabbi Avi Weiss is founder and president of Yeshivat Chovevei Torah and senior rabbi of the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

2 Responses to “Human Endeavor And Divine Intervention”

  1. The original quote is attributed to R. Yisrael Salanter: Have to do hishtadlut as if there is no bitachon, and have bitachon as if there is no hishtadlut.

  2. Pastor Ron says:

    God is SOON going to destroy these Arab/Muslim terrorist neighbors of Israel. 5/6′s will die literally overnight! Southern Jordan will become the world’s largest graveyard…. Read your Bible!

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Israel Lebanon Peace Project Flag
UN Demands Israel Pay Lebanon $850 Million
Latest Judaism Stories
Parsha-Perspective-Logo-NEW

To many of our brethren Chanukah has lost its meaning.

Parsha-Perspective-Logo-NEW

This ability to remain calm under pressure and continue to see the situation clearly is a hallmark of Yehuda’s leadership.

Torah-Hakehillah-121914

It would have been understandable for these great warriors to become dispirited.

Torah-Hakehillah-121914

The travail of Yosef was undoubtedly the greatest trauma of Yaakov’s life, which certainly knew its share of hardships.

Yosef, in interpreting the first set of dreams, performed in a manner that was clearly miraculous to all.

Chazal teach us that we need to be “sur may’rah v’asei tov,”avoid bad and do good.

When we celebrate the completion of learning a section of Torah, we recite the Hadran.

Fetal Immersion?
‘The Fetus Is A Limb Of Its Mother’
(Yevamos 78a)

Yosef proves he is a true leader; He is continually and fully engaged in the task of running Egypt

When the inability cannot be clearly attributed to either spouse, the halacha is the subject of debate among the Rishonim.

Those who reject our beliefs know in their souls Jewish power stems from our faith and our prayers.

He stepped outside, and, to his dismay, the menorah was missing. It had been stolen.

Though we Jews have deep obligations to all people our obligation to our fellow Jew is unique.

In a way that decision was the first in a series of miracles with which Hashem blessed us.

Question: If Abraham was commanded to circumcise his descendants on the eighth day, why do Arabs – who claim to descend from Abraham through Yishmael – wait until their children are 13 to circumcise them? I am aware that this is a matter of little consequence to our people. Nevertheless, this inconsistency is one that piques my curiosity.

M. Goldman
(Via E-mail)

Exploring the connection between Pharaoh’s dreams and the story of Joseph being sold into slavery.

More Articles from Rabbi Avi Weiss
Rabbi Avi Weiss, head of theYeshivat Chovevei Torah. Rabbi Asher Lopatin will be replacing him as head of the school.

Though we Jews have deep obligations to all people our obligation to our fellow Jew is unique.

Rabbi Avi Weiss

The dreams revealed their differences: The butler was active; the baker completely passive.

Benno Yaakov, the German Jewish commentator, posits Yaakov’s limping caused Eisav’s change of heart.

Jacob cries, overcome by the knowledge that his great love for Rachel will end in unbearable pain.

Yitzchak thought the Jewish people needed dual leadership: Eisav the physical; Yaakov the spiritual

Perhaps deep down Eliezer did hesitate. In his heart of hearts, he may not have wanted to succeed.

To be fully saved means not only to come out physically unscathed but emotionally healthy as well.

Having herself been victimized by Pharoah, Sarah should have been more sensitive to Hagar.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/parsha/human-endeavor-and-divine-intervention/2014/07/31/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: