20 Tamuz 5779 / Tuesday, July 23, 2019 | Torah Reading: mattot
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Despair Out, Prayer In    

Despair Out, Prayer In

Sure, we need to plan and work but we don't need to be obsessive. How many times do we plan and worry while we are lying in bed trying to go to sleep?


In one of Rabbi Elimelech Biederman’s weekly publications I read that Rebbe Moshe of Kobrin said that his Rebbe, Rebbe Mordechai of Lachovitch commanded him to build a house. He traveled with the intention of asking the Rebbe how to do so. The message he received was: “If you build the house on the ground, you will succeed, but if you build it on your head, it won't stand.”


The meaning of this message was that if his head is taken up by the building, and preoccupied with its construction, he would not succeed.


The Rebbe of Kobrin said “I followed this counsel. Whatever could be pushed off until after morning services, I didn't do before then, and whatever I could do several hours later in the day I didn't do it earlier. It is a mitzvah to tell everyone just how much help from Heaven I had from this approach.”


The Rebbe of Lachovitch told him to keep his mind out of the picture. In other words, the advice was to relax, to do whatever one needs to do, but to do it with trust in Hashem. Following this approach is what made his efforts successful.


This story has the potential to be life-transforming. Sure we need to plan and work but we don't need to be obsessive. How many times do we plan and worry while we are lying in bed trying to go to sleep? How many times do we think about work when we're trying to spend time with our family? Most embarrassing, how often do we think about work when we are standing before Hashem and praying? We need to make a reasonable effort then trust in Hashem. Remember whatever you can do Hashem can do much better!


This prescription from the story told by the Rabbi of Kobrin is so powerful! You can bet that the Evil Inclination will not roll out the red carpet and allow us to internalize this easily. He is going to try to flood our minds with massive numbers of negative pop ups to distract and demoralize us.


In order to persevere in our efforts, we need to a sound strategy.




Whenever we are being bombarded with negative thoughts, we should say a personal prayer and ask for help from Hashem. Here's one that I've been using that's been a big help so far.


I don't need to plan all the time. I don't need to worry anymore
I don’t need to be in control. I'm not alone, Hashem; You are the King.


Whenever I say this prayer I feel so much stronger and calmer. It stops the downward spiral in its tracks.


Return to sender


We are always trying to think of the perfect gift to give someone close to us. I suggest that we take our anxieties and worries and give them to the Evil Inclination. After all he’s the one who sent them to us in the first place. Imagine putting your bad thoughts in an envelope marked “Return to Sender." You can include a note to the Evil Inclination: “I don't need these anymore. I’ve been working on strengthening my emuna and I’m no longer the same person as the original addressee.  Therefore, I’m returning these bad thoughts as a gift to you.”


The act of giving always makes you feel good. Just wait and see how good you’ll feel when you give the Evil Inclination this lovely and thoughtful gift! This gift does not require you to go to the shopping mall nor do you need to give your credit card information to Amazon. This gift will cost you no money at all. In fact, it will result in you making more money while preserving your health!


A smart exchange


I am suggesting that we make two spiritual and economic transfers. First, via prayer we are transferring our burdens to Hashem. When we cast our burdens on Him he will sustain us. He is our loving Father and we are his beloved children. When we serve Him, we can be sure that He will give us all we need. Sure, we need to make some efforts on our own but when we do our best we can count on him to do the rest.


Secondly, we are giving our anxieties and worries back to the Evil Inclination. After all He is an angel and he can handle them a lot better than we can! Let him be the one who is miserable and depressed!


Invest and Divest


Through prayer, we are investing in emuna. Nothing is so conducive to a good livelihood. It evokes Divine compassion and opens the gates of abundance.


By giving the Evil Inclination our anxieties and stress as a gift, we are the divesting ourselves of these negative thoughts. There is nothing so damaging to livelihood and to health as worry and stress.


In summary, out with despair in with prayer. Out with sadness, in with joy. We're giving the Evil Inclination a gift and we’ll receive a big lift!

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