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Prayer leads to trouble


Rabbi Chaim Tabasky

14 Tevet 5767
Dear Rabbi: I had been praying intensively on my own in my home for about two years, then, everything went bad. That is, whenever I would pray, something literally unfortunate for me would occur in my life. Then, one weekend I did an intensive Friday night Shabbat session at home by myself, much more so than I had ever before. However, on that very Sunday, a man attacked me repeatedly and totally unprovoked, but fortunately I was able to repel his assault. However, since he was left with a mark on him, he called the police and next second I was being escorted away to the local police station, under arrest for assault, being led by two police officers and my hands bound behind me in handcuffs. I have since felt: what could HaShem want from me? not to pray? I have a sleep disorder and am unable to attend Saturday services; is it such a sin to pray on one’s own? I have not now prayed for the last year. I would like to someday start to pray The Shema, The Shemone Eshrei and other Prayers again, but am literally fearful of doing so. What is your take on this: might I start saying my prayers again? have I sinned so horribly that HaShem does not want my prayers? I would greatly appreciate a reply. Thank YOU!
I wanted to respond to your letter right away, but every time I started to write, I felt that I was not giving over the proper messge. You are undergoing a difficult test, and you must be thinking that Hashem is rejecting you and your prayersa. That is certainly not true. I do not know you, but I believe intensely that when HaShem places obstacles in our path, He is actually drawing us closer, by forcing us to excersize faith and commitment beyond the level of which we thought we were capable. There is no question in my mind that Hashem loves you and that your prayer at home is pleasing to Him. You are definitely justified to pray at home if your health does not allow you to get to a minyan (It would be a good idea to pray with a minyan on occasion if you can, there is much spiritual value to being part of the kehila, but halachically your health is the first priority). I wish you much strength and offer you an ear for your trials.
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