<I>Vayetze</I>: When Prayers Are Not Answered

Sometimes, it just isn't the right moment.

Aloh Naaleh,

Arutz 7
One of the most moving, perplexing scenes in this week's parsha is when Rachel asks Yaakov to daven for her so that she can have children, and Yaakov responds in anger, saying, "Am I in place of HaShem?" (30:1-2)

While other commentaries deal with why he got angry, and the consequences of his anger, the Ibn Ezra says the episode teaches us something about prayer. Yaakov is a tzadik, with yichus to boot, who davened for Rachel, a righteous woman. Their cause was certainly just and noble, and yet his tefillah wasn't answered. Why not?

Says the Ibn Ezra, "Because the time hadn't come for it to be answered."

Sometimes, we can want something and daven earnestly and give tzedakah and perform good deeds, but it just isn't the right time for the tefillah to be answered.

The Messilat Yesharim wonders how a person is supposed to keep davening for an end to Galut and the rebuilding of Yerushalayim, when he sees it's not happening. He answers that if our tefillot aren't answered, then it's because the time hasn't arrived yet. In the meantime, we have to keep doing our part; our davening brings joy to HaKadosh Baruch Hu.

Equally important is the practical steps that Rachel took to realize her dream. On the
Their cause was certainly just and noble, and yet his tefillah wasn't answered. Why not?
passuk, "and G-d remembered Rachel and heard her" (30:22), the Sforno says that what caused G-d to remember was not just the timing, but Rachel's efforts to have a baby. She brought a rival, her maidservant, into the marriage and bought the berries of Leah's son Reuven.

In other words, our job is to keep davening and to do everything in our power to realize our goals. We need to continue to daven for an ingathering of the exiles and do our part in making it happen.

May it finally be the time for our tefillot for Geulah to be answered, and may we act in a way that brings merit to Am Yisrael and justifies our ultimate redemption speedily, in our days.
Joel Rebibo was principal of the Phoenix Hebrew Academy in Phoenix, Arizona until his aliya in 1983. He spent 16 years at The Jerusalem Post, including five years as editor of its international edition, and is currently Israel news editor for Hamodia's English-language weekly.

The foregoing commentary was distributed by the Aloh Naaleh organization.