A Tefillah for Later Generations

Despite the disparity between their ages — one was in his late 20s, the other middle-aged — the two businessmen had decided to travel together. On the way to their destination they arrived at a large city where they were highly impressed by the number of children’s clothing stores and the large quantity of outfits available.

“I so much would want to purchase something for my son,” the middle-aged man said. “He is an only child, born to me in my old age. But since I am not sure of his size, I am afraid it won’t fit him.”

His companion was thinking differently. “I am planning to buy two or three outfits for my children,” the younger man revealed.

“But how do you know whether or not they will fit?” the middle-aged man wanted to know.

“What won’t fit one, will likely fit another,” his companion said, explaining that he had several young children at home, all close in age.

***

This week we learn that before the destruction of Sedom and Amorah, the Ribbono shel Olam revealed His intentions to Avraham Avinu, saying, “Shall I conceal from Avraham what I do, and Avraham will surely become a great and mighty nation…”

Avraham Avinu correctly understood that Hashem told him about the pending destruction so that he should daven on behalf of the doomed populace. Yet the Ribbono shel Olam knew in advance that these tefillos would ultimately not prevent the annihilation of the cities.

If the destruction would happen in any case, what was the purpose of these tefillos? In addition, why is the fact that Avraham Avinu’s descendants will become a “great and mighty nation” reason to tell Avraham Avinu about Sedom?

One approach is that it was precisely because Avraham Avinu would have so many descendants that the Ribbono shel Olam, in His infinite mercy, encouraged Avraham Avinu to daven for Sedom. The tefillos wouldn’t save the evildoers in these wicked towns, but would be of great assistance to Avraham Avinu’s descendants in generations to come.

No tefillah goes to waste. What “wouldn’t fit” Sedom would “fit” and help save Jews thousands of years later. (Based on a teaching by the Dubno Maggid.)

***

A religious soldier in the Israeli army who lived in Bnei Brak decided to invite a nonreligious army acquaintance to join him for Shabbos. At first the friend refused, saying he did not have suitable Shabbos clothes. Upon being assured that appropriate clothing would be provided, he agreed to come. He had been raised on a secular kibbutz and had never experienced a true Shabbos before. The experience totally changed the life of the young soldier. After completing his army duties, he enrolled in a yeshivah in Bnei Brak.

His fiercely anti-religious father became enraged when he heard of this decision. He made his way to Bnei Brak, determined to bring his son home. Unable to discover which yeshivah his son had joined, the furious father went to the home of the Chazon Ish, zt”l (whose yahrtzeit was marked this week).

“Where is my son?” he demanded.

“Why are you coming to me? If your son is missing, go to the police,” the Chazon Ish responded.

It turned out that the saintly Chazon Ish was no stranger to the angry father. “Don’t you remember me?” the man demanded. “We studied together in cheder. My father was a pious Jew who wept bitterly when I joined the Bolsheviks. Now look at me: in spite of his tears I am a member of a staunchly secular kibbutz!”

The Chazon Ish rose to his feet and exclaimed, “A Jewish father’s tears are never shed in vain! If they were unable to save the son, yet they brought the grandson back. …”

Some time later the former soldier, now a blossoming Torah scholar, got engaged. He consulted the Chazon Ish as to whether he should invite his parents to the wedding. “Yes, you should,” was the reply. A year later, the yungerman returned to the Chazon Ish with happy tidings. His wife had given birth to a boy. Should he inform his father about the bris? Once again the Chazon Ish replied in the affirmative.

Reluctantly, prodded by his wife, the secularized father attended the bris.

Over a period of time, the unthinkable occurred — the yungerman successfully brought his parents back to Yiddishkeit as well.

No tears are shed in vain, and no tefillah is ever wasted.

This thought is a source of double chizuk. It serves to reassure us that no tefillah of ours is ever in vain. It also serves to comfort us with he knowledge that our tefillos are not alone; they are accompanied by rivers of tears and tefillos uttered by our ancestors throughout the generations. Our pleas are strengthened by the heartfelt Tehillim of our grandfathers and grandmothers that continue to evoke compassion for every generation.