Thursday, Jul 25, 2024

Kappitel 86: Saved from the Depths of Despair

In the 86th kappitel, the Malbim notices that Dovid Hamelech gives five reasons for the Almighty to answer his prayers. His first claim is, “Ki ani ve'evyon ani - Because I am poor and impoverished.” Dovid pleads with the Almighty to have compassion and mercy on him. With his second reason, Dovid declares, “Ki chossid ani - Because I am a chossid.” Dovid mentions faith as his third reason: “Haboteiach eilecha - Who has placed his faith in You.”

Dovid lists two more reasons why his prayers should be answered. The first one is, “Ki eilecha ekra kol hayom – For I call out to you all day.” This speaks to the consistence of Dovid’s prayers. He never stops praying to the Almighty. Every moment of every day presents another opportunity of prayer. And finally, Dovid states that there is only one thing in life that makes him happy: “Ki eilecha Hashem nafshi esa.” He wants nothing more than to elevate his soul and speak to the Almighty. 


After listing these reasons, he asks the Almighty to save him from the depths of despair. A Jew must know that no matter how far he has fallen and how low he has sunk, if he wants to return, the Almighty will send the proper means for him to do so.


– – – – –


Tzvi Rumbraun frequented libraries in Eretz Yisroel containing rare manuscripts. He worked for a fellow who published these manuscripts, and with his bright mind and strong sense of language, he did an excellent job. Working full days, Tzvi made sure to bring along his lunch, and after receiving permission to do so, he ate quietly in the corner of the library.


As he finished his sandwich, he began to bentch just loud enough to hear himself. A young woman who was standing nearby seemed to take interest in the words he was saying. Apparently, she was not religious and he was surprised that she was intrigued. After he finished, she approached him and asked him from where he got his version of bentching.


Tzvi responded that he always bentched this way. But she was very specific and wanted to know about the last words in the paragraph of Racheim. She noticed that he had added two words to the last sentence: “Shelo neivosh velo nikaleim velo nikashel le’olam va’ed.”


The term “velo nikashel” was not something she had heard before and she wondered what the source for those two words was.


Tzvi knew that this was not the usual version, but he had never thought much about it. He always bentched this way because that is the way his father had bentched. She wanted to know the source and he promised that he would find it for her. Although he did not know why she was so concerned about it, he gave her his word, and when he came home, he immediately began to scour through the various siddurim he had in his personal library. Searching through the less common siddurim he owned, he finally came across a volume that contained that exact version. He photocopied the page and circled those two words in red ink. He folded the paper, placed it in an envelope, and mailed it out the next day.


Tzvi didn’t place much thought into this until a few years later, when he received a wedding invitation. He asked his wife if she knew any of the parties, but she did not. He tried to think why he would have been invited, but he could not come up with any reason. He was about to throw the invitation away but figured that with the wedding not far from his home, he would stop by and wish them mazel tov. Perhaps then he would discover why he was invited.


He arrived at the wedding and went over to the chosson and his father and shook their hands. Afterwards, he approached the mechutan and wished him mazel tov as well. But he did not recognize any of the baalei simcha. He was about to leave the wedding hall when someone tapped him on the shoulder and asked him if he was Tzvi Rumbrawn. When he answered in the affirmative, he was told that the kallah wants to speak to him.


Tzvi walked over to the kallah and she walked quickly towards him. Anxious to see him, she thanked him for everything. But he still did not understand. He did not recognize her at all. But then she reminded him who she was.


“Do you remember when a librarian came over to you and asked you about the source for your version of bentching? I know I don’t look anything like I did back then, but I am that girl. Let me tell you what happened. I grew up in a religious home, but when I became a teenager, I began to lose interest. Slowly, I stopped being observant and became totally disenchanted with religion. By the time I turned 20, I was as far removed from Judaism as one can be. As horrible as it sounds, one day, I met an Arab boy. He was kind and quite smart. He would come to the library every day and we began dating. We spent months getting to know each other. Finally, he asked me if I would marry him. Although I was completely non-observant, the thought of marrying an Arab boy still did not sit well with me. I told him that I needed some time to think about it. But he insisted that the only reason I was uncomfortable with it was because we were living in Israel, and that if we would live in America, things would be different. No one would think that it was strange over there. And so, he told me that he had to know by the end of the day if I would be willing to go to America and marry him.


“The day I was supposed to give an answer was the day that your letter arrived in the mail. The answer was right before me, circled in bright red ink: ‘Veelo nikashel.’ What a message it was! I felt that the Almighty was telling me that if I marry out of my faith, and I stumble, it will bring shame and disgrace to His name forever. The stark realization that I would stumble forever and bring shame to Him caused me to walk away from my fiancé and save my future and my family’s legacy. And it is all thanks to you.”


Tzvi was astounded but quite grateful that he was chosen to save a young lady from causing irreparable damage to her neshamah.


No matter how far we’ve fallen, we must have faith that we can be saved.


Vehitzalta nafshi meshe’ol tachtiyah…



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