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April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review August 1, 2008 / 29 Tamuz 5768,

We have the power to alter another's destiny — use it well

By Rabbi A. Henach Leibowitz


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Maximize your innate Divine gifts


“And he will live there until the death of the Kohen Gadol . .”

                        —  Numbers 35:25


If a man kills another by accident, the perpetrator is exiled to live in an ir miklat — a city of refuge. As long as he remains there, he cannot be harmed by the relatives of the deceased, who seek to avenge the blood of their family member. The unintentional murderer must stay in the city of refuge until the Kohen Gadol (Chief Priest) dies.


The Talmud (Makkos 11a) explains that the term of the exile is linked to the Chief Priest's life span because the Kohen should have prayed for Hashem's mercy that there be no accidental deaths. Obviously, the Kohen's prayers were somewhat lacking and he now bears the burden of this shortcoming.


The Talmud proves the validity of this responsibility by relating that a man was once killed by a lion near the home of Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi, and the Prophet Elijah blamed Rabbi Yehoshua for not praying sufficiently for his people.


We know that there is really no such thing as an "accident." Everything that happens to a person is ordained by the Divine. The Talmud teaches that one doesn't stub his toe or hurt his finger unless it is preordained in Heaven (Chullin 7b). The man who was killed by the accidental killer, as well as the unfortunate soul who was eaten by a lion in Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi's neighborhood, were decreed by G-d to die at that given moment.


If each of these violent acts were destined to occur by the Divine master plan, how could even the most fervent prayers of the Chief Priest stop them from happening? If the Divine weighed the facts and decided that a man's life must come to an end at that exact moment, how could Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi stop the Heavenly decree?


With this teaching, the Talmud enlightens us about the ultimate power of prayer. A heartfelt, meaningful plea to the Divine has the ability to change the course of what "should" have happened.


The Divine is a G-d of compassion and He does not lightly decide that a man should die. Every action is based on precise, exact consideration of the thousands of factors and is absolutely justified in its impact on every person who will be influenced by the ripple effect. Nevertheless, prayer has the ability to change the cosmic balance, to tip the scales of Divine Justice in the other direction and override this original decision.


Had the Chief Priest or Rabbi Yehoshua prayed with more feeling, the Divine would have torn up the decree and spared the victim's life.


One might think that this lesson only applies to a Chief Priest or a great, saintly Torah scholar like Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi — but what about a regular person? The Sforno (Genesis 32:1) tells us that the Torah relates the wicked Laban's blessing to his daughters, "because a father's blessing to his child with all his soul, will undoubtedly have more effect [than the blessings of others] because it harnesses the power of his tzelem Elokim — the Divine image or spark within the person giving the blessing." This is true about the blessing or prayer of a wicked, deceitful scoundrel like Lavan. Imagine the potential of a "regular" person who taps into the Divine power of his tzelem Elokim !


As the philosophical tract Mesilas Yesharim (Duties of the Heart) teaches (Chap. 19), "If a person says, 'Who am I and of what significance am I that I should pray about the exile and about Jerusalem? Will my prayers cause the exiles to gather together and the redemption to sprout forth?' The answer is nearby, as it says, 'For this reason man was created alone, so that every individual will say "For my sake alone the entire world was created"' (Talmud, Sanhedrin 37a) — for it already brings pleasure to the Divine that his children ask and pray for this. And even if their request is not granted, because the time is not yet ripe or for some other reason, they did their part and the Divine rejoices in it."


Apparently, as long as one's prayers had the proper Intent and concentration that would have made the redemption happen (had it not been for other interfering factors), the Divine is happy with the person's prayers as if he had done the job. Anyone can receive this zechus — the merit of having brought the Redemption!




Every one of us has the earth-shaking power of prayer within us that can change Heavenly decrees, save lives, and even be credited with bringing the Messiah. We need only to reach inside ourselves and harness the unique force of that Divine spark — the tzelem Elokim — through the power of prayer.

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One of America's senior Torah sages, Rabbi A. Henach Leibowitz has been the dean of the Rabbinical Seminary of America, in Queens, New York for more than 50 years. The institution has branches and affiliates all across North America and Israel.

This article was prepared by two of the sage's disciples, Rabbi Aryeh Striks and Rabbi Shimon Zehnwirth, and excerpted from the just released book, "Pinnacle of Creation: Torah insights into human nature".


Previously:

The Crowning Glory of Creation
The Divine's eternal, unconditional love
Perverting sincerity
Do 'clothes make the man'?
Divine vindictiveness?

© 2007, Mesorah Publications, Ltd.