By Rabbi Ari Enkin, Rabbinic Director, United with Israel
We are told that three barren women were remembered and blessed with a child on Rosh Hashana: Sarah, Rachel, and Chana. The question is asked: Why is this information important? Is there a common denominator between these three women?
It is explained that there is indeed a connection between these three women and the explicit fact that their prayers were answered. In all three cases, these women were somehow involved with praying or otherwise expressing concern for others. In some cases, they even prayed for others before they prayed for themselves. We are taught that those who pray for the needs of others will they themselves be answered first!
Regarding Sarah, we are told that Abraham had previously prayed that Abimelech be cured from his illness. Therefore, Abraham’s personal prayers for healing, namely, for his wife Sara, were answered first. Abraham prayed for someone else, and God rewarded him by answering his prayers.
Regarding Rachel, we are told that Rachel also worried about someone else. Rachel allowed her sister Leah to marry Jacob, who was truly expecting to marry Rachel. When Leah, and not Rachel, was brought into the wedding chamber, Rachel remained silent so as not to let her sister be shamed and rejected on “her” wedding night.
Rachel allowing her sister to marry her finance in order to save her sister embarrassment is truly a heroic act of self-sacrifice. God noted how caring and considerate Rachel was to Leah and in that merit answered her prayers years later when she was barren.
Regarding Chana, she too was barren for many years. Her prayers were answered and she became pregnant not because she wanted to have a child for her own interest, but rather because she wanted to give birth to child whose life could be dedicated to serving God. Again, it was a selfless request, so her prayers were answered.
Maybe this is the secret of having our prayers answered on Rosh Hashana: Pray for someone else! Do you know someone with similar needs as yours? Maybe you need a better medical report? Maybe you need a bit of a raise in order to get by? Maybe you are looking for a spouse? Well, try praying for others in a similar situation, and maybe, just maybe, your prayers will be answered…both for your benefit and theirs!