Sunday, Jan 16, 2022

Taanis 19: Proper Praying

On this daf, we find the immense power of prayer.

Rav Nachman of Breslov taught, “One overcomes arrogance by praying for someone else.”

Rav Yudel, a close talmid of Rav Nachman, wondered about this. “It seems like the opposite should be true. Won’t praying for my friend feed my ego and make me feel even more prideful? After all, aren’t my prayers answered because I’m important?”

Rav Nachman explained with a parable:

Once, there was a prince who angered his father, the king. When the king’s anger faded, the prince asked his pardon, and it was readily granted. After a while, though, the prince again acted in a way that upset his father. Yet again, the king graciously pardoned his beloved son. When this pattern continued to repeat itself, the king lost his patience. To stop this unpleasant cycle, he appointed a minister to prevent his son from approaching him to ask forgiveness.

After some time passed, the prince tried to reconcile with the king in the usual manner, but, this time, he was rebuffed by the minister. Every time the prince tried to get to his father, the minister stopped him.

Not surprisingly, the prince was very pained by this, and so was the king.

The minister began to consider the matter. He could not allow the prince to see the king, since he was duty-bound to keep him away. Yet how could he contribute to such a painful estrangement? There must be a way to appease the king, he reasoned.

Finally, the minister understood that it was up to him to appease the king on the prince’s behalf. He approached the king and described the great pain his son had suffered by being kept a distance, and the king immediately pardoned his son.”

Rav Nachman explained, “Our sages say that every person must say, ‘The world was created for me.’ This means that we are responsible for what the world lacks. Our prayers help our friends only if we’re aware that it is our sins that prevent them from receiving what they require. This meditation will instill a deep sense of humility and all arrogance will disappear” (Siach Sarfei Kodesh).

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