By: Rabbi Osher Jungreis
In this week`s parsha, we see the power of faith and prayer. G-d promised our Patriarchs and Matriarchs that their descendants would be “as numerous as the stars in the heavens”, and yet, in the opening passages, we discover that our mother Rivka was barren. By studying how they reacted to this painful ordeal in life, we can discover the awesome power of prayer and faith.
When referring to the prayers of Yitzchok and Rivka, the Torah uses the term Vayeator (Gen. 25:21)–a most unusual expression. Literally translated, it means a pitchfork, for prayer, if it is to be effective must turn a person over, just as a pitchfork turns over hay. It is presenting oneself in total faith and humility to G-d to seek His mercy. For how long did Yitzchok and Rivka pray for the blessing of a child? Twenty years–and throughout that time, they never wavered in their faith.
In our own culture of instant gratification, we would do well to remember their tenaciousness. Too quickly do we give up–too quickly do we renounce hope–too quickly do we become despondent and depressed. But as Jews, we are never to lose faith; we are never to lose hope. If we remain steadfast, we will discover that the help of G-d can come as quick as the wink of an eye. This total enduring faith in HaShem, even when all logic seems to mitigate against it, is the legacy of our Father Abraham.
It is in this week’s portion, that Yitzchok receives the oath from HaShem that his children will increase like the stars in the heavens, that they will be given the land of Israel as an eternal inheritance and that the nations of the world will be blessed through his offspring. The verse concludes: Because Abraham obeyed `My Voice, My Decrees, and My Torahs` (Genesis, 26:4-5).
One must ask, wouldn’t it have been more appropriate for the Torah to say Because Abraham obeyed My Word or My Command rather than My Voice. This teaches us that our commitment to HaShem, our adherence to His mitzvot, must be independent of any rational or reason. Words connote a measure of understanding, but listening to a Voice means total trust and faith regardless of whether or not we perceive the reasons for the command.
Avraham’s emunah–faith in HaShem, was so great that he did not need to be motivated by logic or reason. Just hearing the Voice and knowing that this was the Will of G-d was all the inspiration that he needed. This legacy of Avraham is the foundation of our commitment to HaShem and His mizvot. It is this legacy that enabled us to survive the centuries and remain impervious to the many allurements of society. It is this legacy that enabled us to triumph over our oppressors, and it is this legacy that enabled Yizchok and Rivka to cling tenaciously to prayer, even when the odds were against them.
It was in the merit of this total unequivocal faith that the blessing that we would become as numerous as the stars in the heavens and merit the land of Israel was given. In these very troubled times, may we be worthy of this awesome trust. May our faith burn ever bright, and may we always hear the Voice of G-d leading us on the road of life.