Prayer, Scales and Rain

One can always find comfort in their service to the Holy One, blessed be He as their emunah (faith) is strengthened. One should serve the Holy One, blessed be He with modesty and humility. We learn that “the humble one is regarded as though they had brought all the offerings” (Sanhedrin 43b) as it Psalmist said,

“The sacrifices of G-d are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O G-d, you will not despise.” (Psalms 51:19).

The Ramban wrote a letter to his son in which he explained “ humility is the first virtue, for if you are aware of G-d’s greatness and man’s lowliness, you will fear G-d and avoid sin.” (Igerres haRamban) One’s service to the Holy One, blessed be He is private and is no concern of others for no one can duplicate the service of one’s heart.

Many many years ago there was a drought in Eretz Yisrael. The skies were clear and the sun shined brightly. Water was scarce and the children cried from thirst.

The holy rabbi of Sfas called for a community fast and everyone was to be in the shul (synagogue) to prayer that haKadosh Baruch Hu (the Holy One, blessed be He) be merciful and bless the land with life giving rain.

The people prayed and fasted, but the skies stayed clear and no rain came.

That night as the rabbi slept he dreamed that the rains would come if the shopkeeper would lead the morning prayer.

In the morning when the rabbi woke, he dismissed the dream because the shopkeeper was not very learned and was not knowledgeable enough to lead the community in prayer. That day the sun’s heat was great.

The same dream came to the rabbi again that night. This time he knew there was something special about the shopkeeper.

As everyone gathered in the shul (synagogue) in the morning, the rabbi called the shopkeeper and told him to lead everyone in prayer.

The shopkeeper looked at the rabbi and saw that he was serious and could not understand why he was to lead the prayer. The rabbi knew he could not even read all of the words of the morning prayers. The shopkeeper looked into the rabbi’s eyes once more and then burst out of the shul.

Many saw the shopkeeper as he ran out of the shul with his tallis (prayer shawl) waving behind. After sometime he returned carrying something hidden in his tallis. He went up to the aron kodesh (cabinet where the Torah scrolls are kept).

The shopkeeper opened the aron kodesh, kissed the sefer Torah and then removed from under his tallis the scales from his shop. Silence fell over the shul as the shopkeeper raised his hands towards the shamayim and began

“Ribbono shel olam, Master of the Universe, hear me now. If I have ever mistreated anyone in my shop, let these scales be witness against me. Every day when I look at these scales I see Your holy name. As I look at the right pan I see a “yud”, the right pan and arm, a “hay”; the center post, a “vov”; and the left arm and pan, a “hay”. When I see Your holy name I think of the Torah and the many wonders You have provided to b’nai Yisrael. In your infinite mercy please grant the rains so that the people of Israel can sing your praises.

The skies grew dark and the rains came. The people wondered and asked the holy rabbi why this simple shopkeeper’s prayer was answered and not that of the community.

The holy rabbi answered that one should serve The Holy One, blessed be He with modesty and humility and many times our daily avodah becomes mechanical and it done by rote. The shopkeeper sees the greatness of The Holy One, blessed be He everyday and therefore serves him always in the words of the shema (Deut. 6:5), “b’chol levavacha, uva’chol nasfshacha, uva’chol me’odecha (with all your heart, and all your soul and all your might)”

Let us all pray we can find comfort in our daily prayers as did the simple shopkeeper did many years ago in Sfas.

May all your tales end with Shalom (peace)

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