My Children Pray
Esther had just replaced the telephone receiver
when Naomi, taking her turn, quickly began dialing.
News had just reached us of yet another suicide
bombing in Israel, killing, maiming and wounding dozens more of
The students in each of my children's respective
grades had decided to join in a united effort of prayer. Each student
was asked to call five friends, requesting that they make a chain
call to an additional five people, urging them to pray for those
hurt in the attack.
Esther, having completed her calls, sat down with
a book of Psalms on her lap, ready to begin. Naomi would, momentarily,
Meanwhile, seven-year-old Shira was observing her
older sisters closely. An intelligent girl, she understood the severity
of what had occurred. With an intent look on her face, Shira was
searching for a way that she, too, could somehow contribute.
A moment later, my determined youngest daughter
had her three-year-old brother's plump hand in hers, as she led
him to the living room couch. She made sure they were both comfortably
seated before opening up her own book of Psalms.
Shira searched for the shortest two chapters in
the book. Then, with great care and effort, she began to recite
each word, in her most authoritative voice, waiting patiently for
her brother to repeat. The two continued in this manner, word by
word and verse by verse.
The vowels of several of these unfamiliar words
were muddled in Shira's pronunciation, and became even less intelligible
once Yisroel was through with his repetition. Nevertheless, the
two joyously prodded on, slowly and steadily, until two whole chapters
had been recited.
Occasionally, Shira paused to comment, "Good
job, Yisroel!" This, as well as Shira's most no-nonsense voice,
kept Yisroel's concentration rapt until they successfully had completed
Shira's self-appointed task.
A few moments later, Shira triumphantly turned
to her younger brother and in a sweet voice asked, "Do you
know why we just said that?" Once again, she was assuming the
role of teacher.
Yisroel's blue eyes widened and he gave her his
"Because," she continued, "many
people keep getting hurt in Israel. We are praying for them."
She explained. "And now, since we both asked so nicely, Hashem
(G-d) will listen to our prayers and make sure that no more Jews
get hurt." She smiled at him confidently.
"Yes," hanging on her every word and
smiling in return, Yisroel parroted back, "Now Hashem will
listen, and no more Jews will get hurt."
Shira then closed her book, and hand-in-hand the
two skipped over to return it to its proper place on the bookshelf.
Both were smiling from ear to ear, satisfied with their accomplishment,
and without a shred of doubt in their minds that G-d would follow
their complete bidding.
At many difficult junctures in my own life, I have
reflected on the attitude of my young children.
I marvel at their child-like confidence that everything
will be good.
I envy their unshakable trust in G-d, that He has
heard their requests and will respond immediately and positively.
And, I deeply admire their complete certainty that
their personal contributions will make a difference, convinced that
each of their prayers is valuable and urgently needed.
If more of us would foster our own inner child's
perception of reality -- not one of arrogance, but rather of confidence,
that each of our actions count -- I believe each of us would be
trying that much harder, and accomplishing that much more.
And perhaps, G-d would then listen to us -- even