web analytics
May 23, 2015 / 5 Sivan, 5775
At a Glance
Judaism
Sponsored Post


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.

Current Top Story
Tzipi Hotovely, new Deputy Foreign Minister.
Foreign Minister Hotovely: Tell the World ‘God Gave Israel to the Jews’
Latest Judaism Stories
Leff-052215

There is a great debate as to whether this story actually took place or is simply a metaphor, a prophetic vision shown to Hoshea by Hashem.

Staum-052215

Every person is presented with moments when he/she must make difficult decisions about how to proceed.

Torat-Hakehillah-logo-NEW

One does not necessarily share the opinions of one’s brother. One may disapprove of his actions, values, and/or beliefs. However, with brothers there is a bond of love and caring that transcends all differences.

Torah

This Shavuot let’s give G-d a gift too: Let’s make this year different by doing just 1 more mitzvah

Question: Should we wash our hands in the bathroom with soap and water, or by pouring water from a vessel with handles three times, alternating hands? I have heard it said that a vessel is used only in the morning upon awakening. What are the rules pertaining to young children? What is the protocol if […]

God and the divine origin of His Torah are facts even though we do not fully comprehend them.

So if we basically live the same life, why should he get eternal reward and not me?”

The question is: What about pidyon haben? Can one give the five sela’im required for pidyon haben to a kohen’s daughter?

In Parshas Pinchas the Torah introduces the Mussaf for Shavuos by describing it as Yom HaBikurim when we bring the new offering.

Rachel was thrown by the sight and began to caringly think whom this person might be.

The desert, with its unearthly silence & emptiness, is the condition in which the Word can be heard

The census focused on the individual, proving each is created as irreplaceable, unique images of God

Jewish survival in a dysfunctional world requires women assuming the role Hashem gave them at Sinai

The Honor Of Reading The Kesubah
‘Witnesses Sign Only After Reading…’
(Kesubos 109a)

Why does the Torah use two different words for “to count,” and what does each indicate?

From Bemidbar on and in Nevi’im, the nation is viewed primarily by its component parts, the tribes

More Articles from Rabbi Avi Weiss
Rabbi Avi Weiss

The census focused on the individual, proving each is created as irreplaceable, unique images of God

View of the Temple Mount from Mount of Olives

Torah hints to a divided Jerusalem that will become a city without walls forever united

While Judaism believes the hereafter is of important status, it takes a back seat to this world.

Myth that niddah=dirty stopped many women from accepting laws of family purity and must be shattered

Poland’s great Jewish cities where Jewish life had once flourished and thrived, were now desolate

Kashrut reminds us that in the end, God is the arbiter of right and wrong.

Unless ritual is introduced, the Shoah will be remembered as a footnote in history in 100 years

Dayenu is not a song of complaint; it is rather a song of thanksgiving to God.

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: