Wednesday, Jan 19, 2022

Taanis 23: Pragmatic Prayers

On this daf, we find that Rav Mani, the grandson of Choni Hamaagol, would pray for whatever he needed in life when he required it. Many works state that one should pray for assistance in whatever he is going through, begging Hashem to help him through it.  Rav Yaakov Meir Schechter recounted a fascinating experience that illustrates this principle.

Rav Avrohom Sternhertz was one of the leaders of Breslov and Rav Yaakov Meir’s mentor. During one Lag Ba’omer in Meron, Rav Yaakov Meir noticed his mentor standing to the side of the place that marks the kever of Rav Shimon Bar Yochai. It was packed as it always is on Lag Ba’omer and Rav Yaakov Meir was afraid that the elderly Rav Avrohom would be squeezed by the crowd, since he had no way to defend himself. Rav Yaakov Meir made his way over to him and fended off the crowd, completely unnoticed by Rav Avrohom, who was deeply engaged in petitioning Hashem with personal prayer.

He heard Rav Avrohom beseech Hashem in all sorts of ways to assist him in his old age: “I am already elderly and have no idea how long I will yet live. Please help me in the merit of the great tzaddik interred here. Grant that I remain healthy until my time comes. Please protect me from illness, which could burden my family or make me trouble other people, Heaven forbid. I know that this is very common, but I still beg You to protect me from this end…”

He stood there for a long time and begged Hashem to help him with great focus and tranquility of mind. Throughout his life, he always had mental clarity, and although he was over ninety at the time, he was able to beseech Hashem for a very long time.

After recounting this, Rav Yaakov Meir added, “His prayers were answered. He lived until ninety-three and was of sound mind and body until his last day” (Siach Sarfei Kodesh).

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