"For if you create an opening
the size of the eye of a needle,
I will open for you a banquet hall."
– Shir Hashirim Rabbah 5:3
Half-Hearted Attempts at Emunah Reap Rave Results
Hashem can do ANYTHING — so acknowledge this, and then just ask.
My friend is frum from birth, but raised by parents of high scholastic intelligence who possessed a shallow ideas of middot & closeness with Hashem (and who thus engaged in a lot of poor parenting).
So while my friend is very frum & committed, she always lacked the inner lushness that involves the heart.
Due to her experiences, it's hard for her to relate to Hashem as a Kind & Compassionate Father.
Perceiving Him as unpredictable & scary, she always preferred to keep Him at arm's length.
But this time, she decided to try this baby-step toward emunah and said:
"Okay, Hashem, You can do anything. You can give me an easy birth and give me a calm baby."
She said this a lot throughout her pregnancy, but not every day. And maybe not even every week.
"I didn't always believe it," she acknowledged. "A lot of times, I didn't even say it with such conviction. I still felt skeptical, but I thought that if this is the right thing to do, if this how we're supposed to be, then why not try it?"
She experienced the easiest birth ever with a stay in the hospital that seemed custom-made for her needs (VERY unusual).
Her baby is serene & healthy, only crying if she needs a diaper-change, food, or sleep.
My friend still can't believe it worked.
But clearly, Hashem understands how hard it is for her to connect to Him based on her upbringing.
So when she just made half-hearted baby steps in His direction, He pulled her all the way through, which hopefully has given her the necessary encouragement to continue moving forward in this direction.
Turning to Hashem Mashes Motorcycle Mania
He invested large chunks of his salary in things like:
- a protective suit made of 100% kangaroo leather (which cost over a thousand shekels)
- state-of-the-art helmets (yes, more than one)
- a state-of-the-art motorcycle
- spiffy decals & accessories
...and spending entire days at a motorcycle track where he merely zoomed around & practiced risky stunts.
He started hanging out with the other young men there who were also obsessed with motorcycle culture.
The noise of the motorcycle could be heard from blocks away before he even arrived home, and he wouldn't use a muffler despite being informed that the motor bothered both his parents and his neighbors in the middle of the night (though if it was after 10 PM, he agreed to roll the motorcycle out several yards away from the building to rev up the motorcycle away from the open windows of his neighbors — but it was still a noisy event.)
His mother decided to follow the advice of Rav Shalom Arush:
Spend 10 minutes a day speaking to Hashem about your child.
Pour out your heart & beg Hashem for a change in your child...for 10 minutes.
My friend started doing this, though she admitted she found it difficult to spend those 10 minutes on him alone because it turned into a by-rote "Please Hashem, may my son do true teshuvah," which made it hard for her to maintain heartfelt communication with Him.
So she decided to include her other children in those 10 minutes, but she made sure to ask Hashem to extract her son from the motorcycle culture WITHOUT harming him in any way, and also to turn him toward good things, including Torah study.
She also confessed that she missed a day here and there, even though it was only 10 minutes.
(This resistance is a very powerful & pervasive yetzer hara in our generation. Please know that you earn incredible merit for even trying to overcome this.)
After a week of doing 10 minute sessions (including a missed day), her son told her that a piece became dislodged from the motorcycle while he was zooming down a highway, but he caught the piece as it came out and it didn't harm the operation of the motorcycle.
However, he needed to send the motorcycle out for repairs and everyone got a few days of quiet.
His mother thanked Hashem for that, both that the motorcycle was out of commission and also that her son was not harmed in any way.
And she kept on going with the 10 minutes a day (minus another day that she missed).
The motorcycle came back and after another week (minus the day she missed), her son decided to ride with a friend to spend Shavuot & Shabbat with secular friends (who don't keep Shabbat or kashrut).
On the way to their destination, her son made the irrational decision to take a well-known dangerous curve at a high speed.
Several bikers have lost their lives at this curve, while others suffered long-term debilitating injuries.
Despite knowing this and generally being smart enough not to take such risks, he headed into the curve at high speed, then went into a skid.
Propelled from the motorcycle, Hashem gave him the split-second presence of mind to "grab the street" to avoid slamming into the guard rail (which was the source of death & debilitation for previous bikers).
He still knocked into it, but not dangerously so.
Then he discovered he could not breathe. His riding partner had called an ambulance and tried to help him in the meantime, but no luck.
Right then, a car full of doctors on their way to work in a hospital "happened" to pass by and stopped to help.
My friend's son passed out while the doctors worked on him. He came to as he was being loaded into the ambulance.
His pricey super-cool kangaroo-leather outfit was irreparably cut away from his body so the staff could work on him.
He spent Shavuot & Shabbat in the hospital eating kosher food.
Fortunately, a rabbi with whom he was close lived nearby and came to spend time with him, which included learning Tanya together.
Ultimately, he bruised his tailbone and scraped one of his hands, but was otherwise unhurt. No fracture, no breaks, no sprains, no inner organ damage, no gashes...just some bruising that made him walk funny for a week.
He declared himself finished with motorcycles & the whole accompanying culture, and looked toward getting back to work and buying a car instead.
All this happened after 2 weeks of a mother's heartfelt tefillah.
Not even the whole 10 minutes on just this child, and not even every day.
In other words, it wasn't perfect tefillah and it wasn't by the book (i.e., she didn't spend the whole 10 minutes on just that child).
But those regular minutes she invested in tefillah were truly heartfelt.
(Also, she said that, to be honest, she thinks the neighbors were also davening for an end to the whole motorcycle mania, so maybe it wasn't just her efforts.)
And yes, he got hurt the second time, but not badly.
As you can see, there was a lot of siyata d'Shmaya in his accident (including being saved from spending a couple of very holy days with people who would profane those days).
Emunah means knowing Hashem can do ANYTHING.
Bitachon means trusting that, whether Hashem gives you what you want or not, it's all for your very best.
I think we all know people (including ourselves) who davened & begged for years about a certain issue, and the answer was (and maybe still is) "Nope."
But we've also seen in our own lives how much Hashem has said "YES!"
In his masterpiece, Pele Yoetz, Rav Eliezer Papo encourages a person in an anguishingly impossible situation to turn to Hashem and pour his or her heart out daily to the Creator.
And as a result, says Rav Papo, "ulai yechanen Hashem — perhaps Hashem will show favor & compassion."
The Rav Papo was a tremendous tzaddik who doesn't lie to us.
Tefillah can also work miracles.
But at the end of the day, we do not know what trials our soul must endure for its own rectification.
Only Hashem knows what we really need.
Yet it is still so incredibly worth investing in turning to Hashem directly, as a vulnerable child does to a loving parent and as a person turns to his or her best friend in the world, a BFF who is All-Powerful, Truly Loving & Compassionate, and Forgiving...
...a BFF who truly wants to help you and CAN help you.
We can't know what the ultimate answer will be.
But focusing on true stories like the above can encourage us to at least try.
Fumbling...bumbling...unsure baby steps in the right direction?
Many times, that's all we need to merit Hashem reaching out to us and pulling us in the rest of the way.