Weekly Inspiration

Prayer Without Tears Is Not Good Enough
January 4th, 2024
Prayer Without Tears Is Not Good Enough

We have come to Sefer Shemos. We now plunge into Golus Mitzraim!

The Chofetz Chaim stated that our slavery in Ancient Egypt is the prototype scenario for the events at the time of the Final Redemption. If we ever thought that the story of Ancient Egypt was some kind of fairy tale, then we should remind ourselves of what happened on October 7… and continues to this very day. Our granddaughter just returned from her fifth or sixth shiva call to close friends whose husbands or brothers have been killed in the war.  

Mitzraim was no fairy tale; it was a catastrophic darkness in which our ancestors were constantly beaten and tortured, our babies were stolen to be placed inside the brick walls being built in Pisom and Ramses while the diabolical Paro bathed in our children’s blood. But our ancestors cried out to Hashem and He saved us. 

Recently, Rabbi Moshe Sternbuch Shlita”h said, “Prayer without tears is not enough.”

My friends, we have to understand this.

“Rabbi Elazar said: From the day that the Temple was destroyed, the Gates of Prayer were locked … but, even though the Gates of Prayer have been locked, the Gates of Tears have not been locked ….” (Berachos 32b) The only gate now open is the Gate of Tears. When our ancestors prayed with tears, Hashem answered them. 

I know a certain person who constantly checks his cell phone during davening. I do not claim that my prayers are adequate, but I would say it is better to throw the phone in the garbage than to throw away our tefillah.

In Mitzraim, when our ancestors davened with tears and groans, Hashem toppled the mighty Egyptian edifice until the entire structure collapsed. Only then could Am Yisroel leave to receive the Torah and redeem the world from darkness. 

Recently, following the events of Simchas Torah and our fervent prayers, a miraculous event occurred, an event which seems on the level of a “nes” which occurred in front of the eyes of the world. It would be very good if the entire world – both Jewish and non-Jewish – would take careful note of this. 

It is vital to recognize when Hashem is shaking the world. Our enemies think that they can destroy us – G-d forbid – but in fact, Hashem is about to destroy them, and that is not an exaggeration. As King David says, “when the wicked bloom like grass and all iniquity blossoms, it is to destroy them until eternity.” (Tehillim 92)

The event I am referring to occurred in Turkey several weeks ago, after a member of Parliament delivered a violent diatribe against those who support Israel. He ended his remarks with a curse, following which he immediately collapsed and – shortly thereafter -- died. 

My friends, this is not simple. 

At the end of Parshas Chayei Sarah, the Torah records the death of Yishmoel, and it says, “These were the years of Yishmoel’s life, one hundred thirty-seven … over all his brothers he dwelt.” (Beraishis 25:17) Rashi remarks on the unusual term the Torah uses for his death, the word “nafal … he fell.” The Baal Haturim comments that this possuk is juxtaposed with the possuk“these are the offspring of Yitzchak.’ This teaches that, when [Yishmoel’s descendants] fall in the End of Days, then [Moshiach], the descendant of King David, of the offspring of Yitzchak, will flourish.” 

My friends, at the end of history, the seemingly invincible, huge population of the descendants of Yishmoel, most of whom are violent enemies of Am Yisroel, will fall when the descendants of Yitzchak flourish. In the days when Am Yisroel cries out to Hashem the way our ancestors cried out to Hashem in Mitzraim, then Hashem will bring down our enemies in front of the entire world. 

Chazal tell us that “Yishmoel would take a bow and arrow and shoot in Yitzchak’s direction while pretending to be playing.” (Midrash Rabbah on Genesis 21:9) Yishmoel pretends to be playing a game, but the game is murder. I recently heard a shiur in which the speaker explained that this is the way Yishmoel fights. In the time of Yitzchak Avinu, he shot arrows from afar and today he shoots missiles from Gaza. Nothing has changed. 

Our grandson, who just came out of Gaza, told me that Arab fighters do not engage in open combat. They pop out of doorways, take a shot and run. The Arabs of today are cowards who shoot from afar and mix in with civilians, forcing them into harm’s way. These are the ones who will fall “when the offspring of Yitzchak will flourish.”

“Prayers without tears are not enough.” 

When we cry out to Hashem, at that time Yishmoel will fall and the descendants of Yitzchak will flourish with the coming of Moshiach ben Dovid, may it be soon in our days!


Chazal: The rabbis of the Mishna and Gemora
Golus Mitzraim: The Egyptian Exile
Mitzraim: Ancient Egypt 
Nes: Miracle
Paro: Pharaoh
Pisom and Ramses: Cities built by the Hebrew slaves in Egypt
Possuk: Sentence in the Torah
Sefer Shemos: The Biblical Book of Exodus
Yishmoel: Biblical progenitor of the Arab nations

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