Rabbi Yisrael Friedman of Ruzhin, known as the “Holy Ruzhiner” (1796–1850), once told the following parable:

“A man comes home from work at the end of the day, famished. He sits down at the table, expecting his dinner. His wife appears and tells him that he should be patient because dinner is delayed. So he waits.

“After waiting for what seems like an eternity, she places a plate before him. He takes a look, and all he sees is a hard-boiled egg and a potato. Needless to say, he is quite perturbed. Here he waited patiently although he was so hungry, and all he gets is a run-of-the-mill repast! Had he gotten something special, then he would have understood the delay. He leaves the table disappointed.

“So ends the parable,” said Rabbi Yisrael, “Now the lesson . . .

“Every morning, G‑d waits for His people to say their prayers”“Every morning, G‑d waits for His people to say their prayers. The assiduous hasten to pray, aware of the immense privilege it is to be able to address the King of kings.

“If one prays on time, then even if the prayers are not recited with the greatest concentration, the fact that they are recited on time makes them desirable to G‑d. When the prayers are said a bit late, but with great concentration, G‑d desires them as well, the extra devotion making it ‘worth the wait.’ However, if the prayers are late and without proper concentration, they are like the simple meal that the husband in the parable received. G‑d can be expected to look askance at such an offering!”

Present was an elderly Jew who listened very carefully to the words of Rabbi Yisrael. “With all due respect, dear rebbe,” he countered, “the husband's reaction would be a harsh one if there wasn’t true harmony in the home. However, when a husband and wife really love each other, they understand when the other has a hard day. Perhaps the end of the parable should be that the husband graciously thanks his wife for the simple meal, and asks her to tell him about her day. Similarly, G‑d is always ready to hear our prayers . . .”

“Indeed,” replied Rabbi Yisrael with a smile. “That is exactly the response I was hoping to hear.

“With your wise and compassionate words, you have saved many of your brethren from harsh judgment. It was for this purpose that your soul came down to this world.”