Beholasecha – Letters of Courage
Keil Na, Refah Na La. Please God, Please Heal Her. Moshe’s prayer to heal Miriam after she was stricken with tzoraas, leperosy. A short prayer. Often the shortest prayers are the most effective.
The story is told of a chassid who visited the Kotzker Rebbe because of business troubles. After hearing him out, the Kotzker told the chasid there was nothing he could do for him. The chassid left dejected. Shortly after leaving the Rebbe, the chassid heard the sound of footsteps from behind. Turning around, he saw the Kotzker running towards him. The chassid asked the Rebbe, “So the Rebbe can help after all?” The Kotzker replied, “There is nothing I can do to help your situation. But it occurred to me that at least I can cry with you.” With that, the two sat by the side of the road crying together. Crying, with, or even without, tears, can be the greatest prayer of all.
Several years before his passing, I heard Reb Levi Yitzckok Horowitz, the Bostoner Rebbe zt”l, say that Jews often come to him with problems he cannot help them with. He said that while there may be nothing he can offer in the realm of assistance or advice, giving a Yiddishe Krechtz, a sigh emanating from deep within the Jewish soul, after they leave his office, is something he can always offer. Often, there is no supplication as powerful as a Yiddishe Krechtz. God understands well our wordless supplications.
Several years ago on Purim I visited Reb Yitzchok Teitelbaum, the Hoosakuver Rebbe Shlita. He told me that in Tehillim Chapter 72 we find the words, “V’Nafashos Evyonim Yoshia, And the souls of destitute ones He will save.” Those words contain the roshei taivos, the beginning letters, vav, aleph, yud which spells Oy. A deep one word Jewish prayer. Commonly thought of as a complaint, Oy, is a prayer that expresses our Jewish desire to transcend our problems and come closer to Hashem. The Hoosakuver Rebbe pointed out that these roshei taivos are repeated in Tehillim Chapter 116 in verses 4 and 13 with the words, “Uv’sheim Hashem Ekra, And the Name of Hashem I will call upon.” an acronym for Oy. When things are difficult a Yid calls out Oy, and in so doing, like a student raising his hand in the classroom pleading to be called upon, pleading to get the teacher’s attention, we call out to Hashem to please take notice of us. To please pay attention to us. Oy, a powerful one word prayer.
(It’s important to note that when Moshe addresses Hashem with the request, “Please Hashem, Please Heal Her,” requesting that Hashem heal his sister Miriam, he says “Na,” “Please,” not once, but twice. When asking Hashem for something, health, livelihood, success, help with children, whatever it may be, it goes with humility to say please.)
Throughout the day, I connect with Hashem in prayer by periodically calling out, “Tatty,” Father. My kids sometimes ask, “Why are you saying Tatty?” As in, “What’s the problem?” No problem. Just the need to connect. Once while I was sitting in the beis medrash of Congregation Beth Jehudah in Milwaukee, Rabbi Benzion Twerski walked in, and, with a tone of relief having reached the beis medrash, quietly, but loud enough to be heard, called out, “Heilige Beshefer,” Holy Creator.
Whether we call out Oy. Tatty. Heilige Beshefer. Ribono Shel Olam. Hashem, Helf Mir. Hashem, Please Help me. A Yiddishe Krechtz; or any other short supplication; few words and sounds are as powerful as a short prayer coming from our Jewish hearts.
Have a wonderful and prayerful Shabbos.