By R’ Chaim Bruk
Very soon, we will usher in a New Year with Rosh Hashanah 5782. During the holiday service, we read the haftarah about Chana and her infertility. Chana, who was childless and troubled by her super-fertile fellow wife Penina, travels to G-d’s Tabernacle in Shiloh and breaks down in prayer, beseeching G-d for a child. She is then blessed, together with her husband, Elkanah, with baby Samuel, who grows to be a prominent prophet of the Jewish people.
When she returns with Samuel to Shiloh, she thanks G-d. In her words: “For this child did I pray, and the L-rd granted me my request, which I asked of Him.” How often do we pause to simply say “thank you” to Hashem before submitting our next request? How often do we see the gifts given to us by G-d and just relish them? How often do we recognize that indeed Hashem has answered our prayers?
I want to publicly express my thanks to the Al-mighty for all that He has done for my family and me, and to apologize for not being grateful enough.
A couple of years ago I envisioned receiving this note from G-d.
Thanks again for dedicating your life to sharing My Torah with the people of Montana. I appreciate all that you do, but I need to knock some sense into you and put you in your place, so please bear with me.
I know that you, like all my creations, have “moments,” but please get a grip. Next time you are struggling, next time you think your world is imploding, next time you question what I’m smoking, please remember Chana’s words: “El ha’na’ar ha’zeh hispalalti—For this child I did pray.” These heartbreaking moments of life always pass and at the end you will see that I’ve answered your prayers in spades.
When your children are misbehaving, Chaim, giving you heartache, remind yourself: “El ha’na’ar ha’zeh hispalalti—For this child I did pray.” You wanted a family so badly and look—I’ve provided you and Chavie with just that.
When your child is struggling with a tough medical quandary, remind yourself, Chaim: “El ha’na’ar ha’zeh hispalalti—For this child I did pray.” Yes, they have health challenges, but I’ve also gifted you and Chavie with inner strength and amazing doctors to get you through the darkness.
When you drive 400 miles just to visit one young Jew in desperate need of love, remind yourself, Chaim: “El ha’na’ar ha’zeh hispalalti—For this child I did pray.” How fortunate are you to spend your day on the road, in order to uplift one of My children.
When a Jew increases his mitzvah observance and you’re frustrated that it isn’t more, remind yourself, Chaim: “El ha’na’ar ha’zeh hispalalti—For this child I did pray.” Yes, it may be a bit frustrating, but in My eyes, Chaim, their small step upwards has shaken the heavens and is so precious.
When you think that someone else has it easier or better than you, remind yourself, Chaim: “El ha’na’ar ha’zeh hispalalti—For this child I did pray.” The life I have given you is a perfect fit, tailor-made for you, so cut the you-know-what and be grateful.
Do you feel Me, Chaim? I don’t mean to shut you up, but please take a moment, daily, to see how much you’re loved and blessed.
I bless you with a beautiful New Year and wish you continued success in making Montana a place that makes Me feel at home. Please thank Chavie on My behalf, not only for putting up with you, but for being an amazing mother to her five kinderlach and a spiritual leader of Big Sky Country.
There’s nothing about my life I’d want to swap out, and neither should you. Look at your life and sing, “El ha’na’ar ha’zeh hispalalti—For this child I did pray.” G-d, please continue to give me what I need to be the best I can be in service of You!
Rabbi Chaim Bruk is co-CEO of Chabad Lubavitch of Montana and spiritual leader of The Shul of Bozeman. For comments or to partner in our holy work, e-mail email@example.com or visit JewishMontana.com/Donate.