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Sunday, 10 August, 2014 - 8:39 am

You probably heard about the recent Stanley Morgan survey about safety which concluded that being in a synagogue is the safest place to be.


20% of all fatal accidents occur in automobiles.

17% of all accidents occur in the home.

14% of all accidents involve pedestrians.

16% of all accidents involve travel by air, rail, or water.

32% of all deaths occur in hospitals.

Happily, however, only point .001% of all deaths occur during synagogue services, and these are usually related to previous physical conditions.

Logically, therefore, the safest place for you to be at any given point in time is in synagogue!

So, for safety's sake, attend synagogue more often. It could save your life!

Our portion Vaetchanan begins with Moses’ fervent dialogue with G-d:

There is something enigmatic about G-d’s response to Moses after praying 515 times to enter into the Promised Land. G-d instructs Moses not to talk to Him about this issue any longer. But that seems to be missing the point. We would expect G-d to say, “No matter how many times you talk to me about this, I will not change My mind; you are not entering the Promised Land.” Yet G-d focuses on demanding of Moses not to talk about it anymore, as though that is the key issue! Why did G-d not want him to pray any longer?

An elderly Jewish lady living in a nursing home passed away. Her children, who always visited her and took care of her, were notified. They immediately phoned the burial society and arranged for a proper burial. The woman was buried in the presence of her beloved family. Kaddish was recited and Shivah began.

On the 5th day of sitting shiva, the phone rang and the daughter sitting shiva answered the phone. On the other end of the phone was her mother, whom she just buried. The daughter, in shock, immediately fainted.

The phone rang again and it was her mother again, complaining that no one came to visit her that week. The family then rushed to the nursing home to see their dead mother alive and well… It turned out there was a mix-up at the nursing home and it was her roommate that passed away and not their mother. The home mixed up the names and phoned the wrong family… This means that the wrong family buried the wrong person… imagine how everybody felt about this crazy mistake.

So now the nursing home had the grim job of informing the children of the other lady that their mother died 5 days ago and she was buried already. The nursing home called and was trying to break it to these children slowly. When they finally broke the sad news, one of the children said, “Just have her cremated. We are not interested in anything else.”

The nursing home then explained to the child it was too late as she already received her proper Jewish burial! They related to this child the insane error they have made, in which his mother has been interred by another family.

When the child heard this, he was awestruck. He related this story:

“We have been having a debate with our mother about what to do with her body after she passed on. She is a deeply committed Jew who believes in the value of a Jewish burial. We have told her that we plan to cremate her. We have made it clear that we do not believe in an afterlife, and we will have her cremated. We don’t believe in all these religious myths. Cremation is far cheaper and more appropriate.”

Our mother’s response was that she will pray to G-d to ensure that she receives a Jewish burial. “All day long our mother wasted her time and just prayed and prayed. Yet it seems her prayer was answered!”

Look at the power of prayer! Here this pious lady only prayed for one thing, a proper burial. Knowing it was almost impossible, due to her children’s apathy and selfishness, yet she didn’t give up. So G-d orchestrated this whole mix-up to respond to the prayers of this woman.

We Jews, for thousands of years, always knew the power and meaning and relevance of prayer. Any issue in life, big or small, a tooth ache or an existential crisis, a dilemma or struggle of any sort, we had our cosmic therapist always waiting and ready to listen, and for free too…

A Jew would open his or her heart and talk to G-d like you talk to your best, most trusted friend, in the world.

Rabbi Dr. Abraham Twerski, famed Jewish author and Addiction expert, related this personal experience:

“I was at the kotel (Western Wall), reciting Tehillim (Psalms), when I saw a blind man being led to the kotel. He ran his fingers over the historic stones, gently kissed the wall, then launched into a conversation with G-d. He spoke rapidly and I could not make out every word, but abruptly he paused and said, “Oh! I told You that yesterday,” and resumed his conversation.

“I was electrified! Here was a person who genuinely felt he was relating to Hashem.”

Each and everyone us needs to rediscover our millennia old secret—our ability pray, and pray for real. You wake up in the morning, in your home or in shul, talk to G-d with all your heart. Tell Him what you need to do today, what you are concerned about, what you are afraid of, what you are worried about. Open your heart to Him. After all, G-d did not tell us to stop praying as He told Moses; so we must not stop…

The Munkathcer Rebbe says Sometimes Jews get tired of praying for Moshiach and redemption. They think to themselves: Jews have been praying for Moshiach for 1900 years and where did it bring them? What’s the point of another genuine prayer for Moshiach?!

Moses prayed 515 times for the same thing. Yet if he would have been allowed to pray 516 times, his prayer would have been answered!

The power and potency of prayer is unbelievable. We can never know when and how prayer will be effective, but it is effective. Perhaps your genuine prayer to the Almighty to bring redemption to the world, will make it happen!

We Want Moshiach Now.


Shabbat Shalom,


Rabbi Yoseph Geisinsky


Hinda Langer wrote...

Thank you so much for writing and sharing a few of the fountain of stories that you know.
I was very moved and thoughtful about what it means to be in the month of Elul and how to be more real about taking time to pray.