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1 Sivan 5765

Why pray when bad things happen if all is for good?


Rabbi Chaim Tabasky

Question:
To whom it may concern,

Just this past week my friend was seriosly injured in an accident and just today a close friend of the family was killed in a car crash ( baruch dayan emet). Now , I am faced with a burning question. I understand that everything that g-d does is for the good and there is a greater plan that we as humans cannot fathem . BUT then I am confused as to why our response as Jews is to turn to g-d and pray in time of need,for example for the recovery of the sick. Why am I praying for G-d to heal my friend if I am suppose to believe at the same time that it all happened for a reason and for the good and greater purpose, is’nt my act of prayer at that point , a statement that what g-d did was wrong? Please help clairfy this for me . Thank you for your time and efforts.

Answer:
Your question has merited the attention of Jewish thinkers throughout the ages, and many approasches have been suggested. I will try to outline those ideas which I have tried to incorporate into my own prayer experience.

We believe in the efficacy of prayer, but we do not believe that G-d is somehow bound or beholden to us when we pray. Rather, we believe that HaShem controls the world, and considers our prayers are part of the variety of factors that Hashem uses to direct reality. However, there are other compelling reasons to pray.

First, prayer is an act of worship, with no connection to whether or not HaShem will answer our prayers as we expect (that is, there will be an answer, but it may not be the one we expected). We express G-d's greatness and power, His love for the Jewish people, and our desire to know Him and worship Him. More than this, prayer outlines and defines what should be the most basic goals of mankind. By praying for health, for knowledge, for livelihood, justice, the Beit Hamikdash etc, we are defining for ourselves the world as we would like it to be and committing ourselves to working for thease ideals. The ideal world is certainly dependent on G-d's grace, but the actions of man will make all the difference in bringing these ideals to fruition.

Sometimes when we pray it is with great humility and a feeling of personal helplessness. At other times, it is with great energy and desire for accomplishment. The various modes reflect the dynamic nature of life. Our prayers help us to focus every mood and thought on the necessity of being part od G-d's plan.

May you Know no sorrow, and may our prayers give us strength to worship HaShem and strive for that ideal world that we fervently hope for.

The question "Prayer to cure the hopelessly sick" was asked following this question.


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