web analytics
September 16, 2014 / 21 Elul, 5774
At a Glance
Judaism
Sponsored Post
Apartment 758x530 Africa-Israel at the Israel Real Estate Exhibition in New York

Africa Israel Residences, part of the Africa Israel Investments Group led by international businessman Lev Leviev, will present 7 leading projects on the The Israel Real Estate Exhibition in New York on Sep 14-15, 2014.



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
Former Auschwitz guard Oskar Groening watched as Nazis murdered Jews.
Ex-Auschwitz Guard Charged with 300,000 Counts of Accessory to Murder
Latest Judaism Stories
15th century Book of the Torah

This week’s parsha offers a new covenant; a covenant that speaks to national life unlike any other

Leff-091214

All Jews are inherently righteous and that is why we all have a portion in the World to Come.

Grunfeld-Raphael-logo

If mourning is incompatible with Yom Tov, why is it not incompatible with Shabbat?

Taste-of-Lomdus-logo

Since it is a Rabbinic prohibition we may follow the more lenient opinion.

How can the Torah expect me today, thousands of years after the mitzvahs were given, to view each mitzvah as if I’m fulfilling it for the first time?

Torah isn’t a theological treatise or a metaphysical system but a series of stories linked over time

In contrast to her Eicha-like lamentations of the previous hour or more, however, my youngest was now grinning from ear-to-ear.

An Astonishing Miracle
‘Why Bring the Infants to Hakhel?’
(Chagigah 3a)

Question: I recently loaned money to a friend who has been able to repay only part of it. This was an interest-free loan. We exchanged a signed IOU, not a proper shtar with witnesses, since I have always trusted her integrity and only wanted a document that confirms what was loaned and what was repaid. Now that shemittah is approaching, what should I do? Should I forgive the loan? And if my friend is not able to repay it, may I deduct the unpaid money from my ma’aser requirement?

Name Withheld

e are in a time of serious crisis and must go beyond our present levels of chesed.

According to Ibn Ezra, the Torah was stressing through this covenant that hypocrisy was forbidden.

“Tony said that the code in most places in the U.S. is at least 36 inches for a residential guardrail,” replied Mr. Braun. “Some make it higher, 42, or even 52 inches for high porches. What is the required height according to halacha?”

Simcha is total; sahs is God’s joy in protecting us even when we are most vulnerable.

Not only do we accept You as our King, it is our greatest desire that the name of Your Kingdom be spread throughout the entire universe.

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.

Simcha is total; sahs is God’s joy in protecting us even when we are most vulnerable.

Rabbi Avi Weiss

the test of moral integrity truly presents itself when one faces difficult situations.

Of paramount importance is that both the king and his people realize that while he is the leader, he is still a subject of God.

Rabbinic law is pivotal but it’s important to understand which laws are rabbinic and which biblical.

Israel is the only place where we have the potential to fulfill our mandate as the chosen people.

Rav Kook of blessed memory, who said that no matter where a Jew is born, he is born in Israel.

One must act as if everything depends on us and pray as if everything depends on God.

When taking any major step in life it is a good idea to carefully re-evaluate one’s past.

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: