It's not enough to just care
- Rabbi Zvi Shiloni
- Nov 4, 2010
"And Yitzchak prayed to Hashem opposite his wife, for she was barren" (Bereishit 25:21)
Rashi explains that in reality Yitzchak and Rivkah stood in different corners, for as the Siftei Chachamim explains, it is not our custom to pray while facing each other. However, the question still remains: why does the pasuk tell us that Yitzchak stood opposite his wife?
My father Shlit"a recalls a pasuk in Parshat Lech Lecha, when our mother Sarah sharply criticizes Avraham Avinu for his lack of effort on her behalf: "chamasi alecha ..." - the wrong that has be done to me should really be on you. I have given my maid to you and now that she has conceived I am despised in her eyes. May Hahsem judge between me and you!" (Bereishit 16:5). Sharp words indeed! Rashi explains that Sarah's complaint was that Avraham prayed for offspring only for himself. He had said: "what can you give me seeing that I go childless" (Bereishit 15:2) - I am childless. "You should have prayed for the both of us", said Sarah, "then we both would have been granted a child!
It is highly doubtful that Avraham Avinu had only himself in mind when he prayed for offspring. Who else but Sarah could he possibly see as the mother of his illustrious nation? (Let us not forget that at the time he was probably not even married to Hagar). However, in his words it was not apparent and obvious that he was praying for his wife as well - a very slight mistake, but one which actually caused Sarah great pain. This slight misdemeanor is what Yitzchak seeks to repair in our parsha. Indeed Yitzchak did not pray literally opposite his wife. However, he did make sure that his wife understood clearly that he was praying for her, as well as for himself. We can now interpret the pasuk we opened with as saying that Yitzchak prayed in her presence, while she could see him, so she would understand that he was praying on her behalf.
Sometimes it is not enough to just care about our friend. We must make it known to him, or ot her, how much we really care. So it should be with all of our relationships: with family, with friends, and with students.