Letting Others Know We are Praying for Them
- Rabbi Zvi Shiloni
- Nov 15, 2012
One of the opening psukim in this week's parsha is: "vayetar Yitzchak laHashem lenochach ishto ki akara hee" "Yitzchak entreated Hashem opposite his wife, because she was barren" (Bereishis 24:21). Rashi comments that they prayed together, each standing in a different corner.
My father Shlit"a offers an additional explanation, as there are shivim panim laTorah, seventy faces to the Torah, I would like to share it with you. Interestingly, the posuk does not explicitly state that Rivka pray. Of course we can safely assume that she did but it is not spelled out for us. We are told, however that Yitzchak poured his heart out to Hashem. The Torah writes that Yitzchak prayed lenochach ishto which Rashi interprets to mean opposite his wife. However, says my father, the word nochach can also be interpreted to mean "in front of". Rivka was able to see Yitzchak praying. He did not want her to feel that he did not share her pain - on the contrary, he felt it strongly, and he prayed, for both of them.
In Parshat Lech Lecha we read of Sarah becoming angry at Avraham following the birth of Yishmael - "Sarai said to Avraham: 'the outrage against me is due to you!" (Bereishis 16:5). Was it not Sarah who suggested Avraham's marriage to Hagar? Rashi explains that Sarah's complaint to Avraham was: "When you prayed for children, you prayed only for yourself. You did not pray for the two of us."
Perhaps it was with this in mind that Yitzchak chose to pray in this manner - lenochach ishto - in front of his wife. In this manner she would be able to see him praying.
There is an important lesson here. We must feel our friend's pain and beseech Hashem to help our friend. This sounds beautiful, but this is not sufficient - much more is required. We must make sure that our friend knows that we are praying for him and that we share in his pain. In addition to the value of tefillah, this is very comforting. This is our obligation of sharing the pain of others.