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Daily manna from the Torah by Dr Ketriel Blad

Toldot 6-1


Genesis 25:19 – 26:5

And Isaac was forty years old when he took Rebekah, the daughter of Bethuel the Aramean of Paddan-aram, the sister of Laban the Aramean, to be his wife. And Isaac prayed to the LORD for his wife, because she was barren. And the LORD granted his prayer, and Rebekah his wife conceived... Isaac was sixty years old when she bore them.

Gen. 25:20-22, 26b (ESV)

For how long do we have to pray before getting an answer?

Yitzchak was a man of prayer. When Eliezer came back from his mission of finding a wife for him, Yitzchak was in the field meditating (24:63). He went there in the afternoon to be alone with the Eternal and to ponder over the things in life that are really important.

The fact that the Torah mentions that he went out toward evening, has created the idea that he established the afternoon prayer, minchah. The Torah says that Avraham woke up in the morning (Gen. 19:27; 21:14) from which the morning prayer shacharit comes. Further on, it talks about Yaakov who fought with the angel at night, from where the evening/night prayer arvit comes.

Prayer is our means of communication with the Eternal. It is the way to bless Him, to unburden ourselves, to renew strength, to gain balance, to intercede on behalf of others, to ask for help, etc. There are many types of prayer and we must learn to develop a life of multifaceted prayer so the Eternal can do His will, through us, on earth as He does in heaven.

Yitzchak is an example to us of a man that knew how to pray. His wife Rivkah, was barren, and it was impossible from the human point of view, for her to have children. How could the promises to Avraham be fulfilled if the only son of the promise had a barren wife? The only way to solve this crisis was to pray.

Instead of sitting idly to wait for the promise to be fulfilled, Yitzchak prayed for his wife. The Hebrew text uses an interesting word here: vayeatar ויעתר which means “and he prayed intensely, insistently, abundantly, vehemently”. This teaches us that the promises from the Eternal are not easy to be seen fulfilled. There is always a price to pay and a sacrifice to make. Childbirths in this fallen world are accompanied by pain. The pain experienced in intense prayer and the temptation to give in to impatience, when not receiving an immediate or short term answer, can abort many interventions from heaven.

Our Rabbi’s instructions and example about prayer teach us that in order to get an answer from heaven, we have to pray intensely, surrender, and many times, with pain and anguish. Why is this so? I really don’t know. But I do know that this is the way of prayer. I think it has to do with the situation in which the world is at the present time, with spiritual, psychological, physical and material obstacles.

Since the energetic and fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much (Jacob 5:16-18), Yitzchak’s prayer was successful after twenty years of insistence. He started praying at forty and didn’t see the results until being sixty.

Dear disciple, don’t become discouraged when you pray. If you are praying according to the Eternal’s will and promises, you will have an answer, even if it takes long. Don’t think that the Eternal didn’t listen or that He doesn’t want to help you. Keep insisting according to what he revealed to you in His Word and you will eventually have what you asked for, even if you have to pray for twenty years, like our father Yitzchak.

Shavua tov – good week,


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