Dear reader,

Are you ever filled with such despair that you feel like your life is hopeless? In such moments, prayer is the opportunity that G‑d offers us to communicate with Him, to turn to our Creator for comfort and salvation.

And yet, during such challenging times, as you pray, do you ever hear yourself thinking: “Now, hold on, this is too much to be asking. There’s just no way that G‑d is going to move heaven and earth to grant me this request. Maybe I should ask for something a little bit more realistic, a tad more practical.”

In the beginning of this week’s Torah portion, G‑d promises Abraham to make him “into a great nation.” Years later, after undergoing trials and tribulations, G‑d reassures Abraham and tells him, “Fear not, Abram; I am your shield; your reward is exceedingly great.”

Abraham responds, “Behold, You have given me no seed.” Of what purpose is all that You are blessing me with if I cannot have a child of my own to continue after me?

At this point, “G‑d took him outside and said, ‘Gaze now toward the heavens and count the stars, if you are able to count them!’ And G‑d said to him, ‘So shall be your offspring!’” (Genesis 15:5)

Rashi questions the need for bringing Abraham outdoors. Simply understood, G‑d was taking Abraham out of his tent to see the stars outdoors, since his children would be as numerous as them.

But on a deeper level, G‑d was implying to Abraham that he needs to step outside the natural order and rely on G‑d’s miracles.

Abraham said: “Master of the universe, I have studied my astrological pattern, and it is clear that I will not sire a son.” G‑d responded, “Go outside the sphere of the stars, because no stars control the destiny of Israel!”

Rav Yehudah said in the name of Rav: “How do we know that no star controls the destiny of Israel? From the verse “He took him outside.” (Talmud, Shabbos 156a)

Abraham realized that according to the rules of nature, he was not destined to have a child. He realized that naturally Sarah would not have a child. But G‑d was telling him: a Jew must go outside—he must leave the natural order, because his prayer has the power to reach his infinite G‑d, who extends beyond the sphere of this world.

Prayer can create the miraculous by elevating us beyond the natural order.

Indeed, thirteen years later, when that miraculous son is born to Abraham and Sarah, he is called Yitzchak (Isaac), which means “laughter.”

From this son of laughter descends the great nation of laughter with whom G‑d establishes His special bond.

Because the very essence of the Jew and his existence is forever a laughing, miraculous wonder—explainable only through our prayers and our deep bond with our Creator.

Let us continue to pray for the safety of our brothers and sisters in Israel and for a speedy recovery of those who were wounded.

Chana Weisberg,
Editor, TJW