The Beginning of a Revolution  

A respected Rav in Israel was suffering greatly. Not only did he have severe pain in one of his ears, but also the ear ceased functioning completely, impairing his hearing and causing him serious distress. He was advised to travel to America where perhaps there the doctors would be able to help him. In America they told him that the hearing in that ear cannot be saved, but the pain could be solved by removing the problematic nerves from the ear. He was very disturbed; to lose one's hearing and also to undergo this unpleasant procedure …

He had an idea. Of course he had been praying for a Refuah, but perhaps he had not been praying quite in the right way. We all entreat Hashem to resolve our problems and provide all that we are lacking, but perhaps we should, together with this, be thanking Hashem also for all that is not problematic in our life, for all the many kindnesses that we enjoy continuously. We should at least invest as much energy in thanking as we do for asking for changes in our situation. He started to adopt this new form of Tefillah, thanking Hashem wholeheartedly for his eyesight, his mobility, his hearing in the other good ear (Baruch Hashem we were given two …) and for all the other innumerable gifts of life. Only after feeling heartfelt gratitude for all these blessings would he also add a Tefillah for his present predicament.

The surprise was not long in coming. When being examined by the doctor in preparation for the procedure, he saw the astonished surprise in the doctor's eyes; "G-d loves you! This is quite amazing. Your ear is on the way to healing itself completely and there will be no need for any treatment!". The shock was as great as it was gratifying …

The Rav felt that there is a most valuable message in this incident, and when giving a Shiur before Purim used the opportunity to publicize the story. A few weeks later – shortly before Pesach – someone, unknown to him, came looking for him. The person told him that he has something important to tell him. He related the following story:

We are a family with seven children. Five have been long married, but the last two were for the last five years having major problems finding their Shidduch. I was at your Shiur before Purim and decided to adopt the form of Tefillah you recommended. I started thanking Hashem for everything; how fortunate we are to have children, five happily married, to have good health, to have a livelihood. … . I have been looking for you to let you know, that tonight we are Baruch Hashem celebrating our second engagement this month!

The Rav was most enthused by this remarkable feedback from his Shiur – he did not expect such immediate evidence of the effectiveness of the proposal. These two stories coming together give the impression that this is what Hashem really wants from us in Tefillah. He passed on these stories to a famous popular lecturer in Israel who told them over in a Shiur before Pesach.

Two months later the Rav received a phone call. The person on the line introduced himself as the father of a family of eleven children. He went on to describe that one of his boys recently started drifting radically from the path of the Torah. He dropped out of Yeshiva, changed his manner of dress, removed his Peyos and finally also his Kipah. One cannot imagine the depth of pain and embarrassment the family suffered.

Before Pesach, he continued, I heard your stories and the convincing rationale behind them and decided to adopt this system, not only in prayer but throughout the day – we made it a family project to focus and continuously talk about how much we have for which to be thankful to Hashem. Especially during the course of the Seder this was the main theme of the evening, how much Hashem does for us, and how much gratitude we owe Him. Our problematic son was also sitting at the Seder, though not actively showing signs of participation or co-operation. After Pesach things started to change, the Kippah returned, the Payos and finally, this week, on Rosh Chodesh Tamuz, he returned to Yeshiva dressed appropriately in full garb! The boy himself, when asked, attributed his turn-around to the radical change of atmosphere in the home - gratitude and rebellion don't go together. "After realizing how many good things Hashem does for us it becomes embarrassing to act the way I was behaving!". The boy himself asked for the story to be publicized, in order to help others.

A chain of stories has started that can change the world,
it is up to us to make sure it doesn't stop! 

(Shiur Rav Shlomoh Levenstein Shlita Parshas Ballak 5771)

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