One important concept that we have from our Avos is tefillah. The Gemara in Brachos 26b learns from pesukim that Avraham was instituted Shacharis, Yitzchak was instituted Mincha, and Yaakov instituted Maariv.
The Gemara in Yevamos 64a asks why it was that the Avos and Imahos were akarim – barren. The Gemara answers that it was because Hashem desires the tefillos of tzaddikim. The Avos davened when they were in an difficult situation, when they did not have children. Yet, interestingly it is not from those pesukim that the Gemara derives that the Avos instituted tefillah.
Rav Yeruchem Levovitz zt”l, the Mirrer Mashgiach, (Da’as Chachma U’Mussar 1:4) discusses whether a tzara is a necessary thing and tefillah removes it, or is the tzara only brought about in order to bring us to tefillah. Rav Chaim Shmuelevitz zt”l said that we can see from the abovementioned Gemara in Yevamos that says that Hashem made the Avos and Imahos akarim so that they would daven, that the tzara is only brought about in order to bring us to daven.
The pesukim in Devarim (8:11) tell us that the nature of a person is that when things are going well, we forget that everything comes from Hashem and we think “kochi v’otzem yadi.” When we are successful, human nature is to think that it is due to our intelligence and our talents, etcetera.
On the other hand, when a person is in an es tzara one feels that he is helpless. Then he can come to the realization that everything is in the hands of Hashem. Then he can turn to Hashem and daven to Him blev shalom.
The Avos were fabulously wealthy, but they realized that everything comes from Hashem and that they constantly needed to rely on Him. Avraham Avinu said, “Anochi afar v’efer,” because he realized that everything comes from Hashem. This led the Avos to be able to daven each tefillah as if they were in the greatest es tzara. This is something that we must work on in order for our tefillos to be on this madreiga as well.
Perhaps we need to better explain what tefillah is and what the purpose of it is. After all, if one keeps the Torah and mitzvos and refrains from performing aveiros, won’t Hashem bestow good things on him?
The answer is no. In order for us to receive anything from Hashem we must first call out to Him with the realization that He is the only one who can give it to us.
Rav Yeruchem quotes the Ramchal (Da’as Tevunos) that the purpose of creation is for us to realize that “ein od milvado.” Rav Yeruchem says that in acharis hayamim Hashem will want us to come to this realization and He will therefore put us in a situation where we will be forced to realize this. Do we not think that this time has come? Are we not in that situation now? Do we have anyone else to rely on but Hashem?
The Baal HaTurim at the end of Parshas Chayei Sarah says that the reason why the Torah juxtaposed the toldos of Yitzchak to the last pasuk in Parshas Chayei Sarah that says that Yishmael will fall ‘al pnei kol echav’ is to tell us that in acharis hayamim when Yishmael will fall, then Ben Dovid who is of the toldos of Yitzchak will emerge.
But how does Yishmael fall? The Pirkei D’Rabi Elazar (perek 32) says there are six individuals to whom Hashem gave their names before they were born. They are: Yitzchak, Yishmael, Shlomo HaMelech, Yoshiyahu HaMelech, and Melech HaMashiach. Five out of six we can understand, but what is Yishmael doing in this list of tzadikim? The Pirkei D’Rabi Elazar explains the name Yishmael: Hashem will one day hear the cries of the na’akas Bnei Yisroel from what Yishmael is doing to them and to the entire world. Hashem will then listen to our tefillos and bring the geula! Yishmael will cause us to daven to Hashem like we never did before. This is how the geula will come about. That is why Yishmael is in this list. It is because his name alludes to the fact that ‘yishma kel’– Hashem will listen and answer our tefillos and bring the geula!
The siddur HaGra says that the kapitel “Lamnatzeiach mizmor l’Dovid” that we say before Uva L’tzion Goel has seventy words and goes on the last seventy years of the galus. The Mizmor ends with the pasuk, “Hashem hoshiya HaMelech ya’anenu– Hashem will save us, the King will answer us”- but when? “B’yom koreinu- on the day that we call out to him.” On the day that we daven and come to the realization that we have no one else to rely on but Hashem, He will answer us and bring the geula.