Two Things to Pray For:
A lesson from the Parsha
During the Shluchim Conference of 1991, Chaplain Jacob Goldstein brought a colleague; a chaplain of the United States Military to receive a dollar from the Rebbe and a blessing. The chaplain introduced himself to the Rebbe, saying, “I’m Elimelech Saidman, I’m the chaplain in Frankfurt, and I wanted to ask for your blessing.”
Immediately, the Rebbe responded, “I once received a letter from you.”
The chaplain said that he had just given a note to the Rebbe’s secretary, but he had never written to the Rebbe previously.
“Not today, but a few years ago,” the Rebbe explained.
Suddenly, the chaplain remembered. “A few years ago, when I was in Arizona, I did write.”
The Rebbe gave him a blessing to have a good influence on the Jewish soldiers, and with that, he went on his way.
The video was made public at the time, but it didn’t really make waves. We were accustomed to the fact that the Rebbe remembered the people who wrote to him even better than they remembered writing themselves.
But several years ago, this chaplain visited the Chabad House in Alaska, and told the full story to the rabbi.
In 1986, Eli Saidman lived in Tucson, Arizona, where he developed a close relationship with the local Chabad rabbi, Rabbi Yossi Shemtov. Eli shared with the rabbi that he and his wife had already been married for five-six years and hadn’t yet been blessed with children. They had tried various treatments but to no avail.
Rabbi Shemtov suggested that he write to the Rebbe, but Eli protested. “I’m not a Chabad person. Why should I start writing letters to the Rebbe?”
Rabbi Shemtov didn’t let up. “Listen, the Rebbe cares for every Jew. You’ve tried medical treatments. Why don’t you try spiritual treatments?”
He talked Eli into it, and he wrote a letter to the Rebbe describing his situation and asking for a blessing.
He never received a response, and he forgot all about it. A year and a half later, his wife gave birth to a baby boy, and in 1990, they had a baby girl.
When Chaplain Goldstein offered to bring him to the Rebbe in 1991, he was delighted to go, but he had totally forgotten about the letter. When he stood in front of the Rebbe and said his name, it was the Rebbe who reminded him, “I once received a letter from you.” The memory suddenly came back to him, but he was in such shock that he couldn’t say anything.
As he left the Rebbe, he met Rabbi Shemtov and repeated what had happened. Rabbi Shemtov responded, “At the time, I told you that even if you don’t receive a response, the blessing will come. The children that you had were the best answer.”
Once, when Elijah found himself in a predicament, after doing whatever he was able to do, he prayed “Aneini Hashem Aneini – Answer me G-d, answer me”.
Why did he have to use the double expressing?
The Holy Books say that this prayer is relevant to every person. Whenever we pray, we ask for G-d’s blessings for health, wealth and happiness, but often, when our prayers are answered, we quickly forget about G-d’s part in it and we take the credit for ourselves. It was the doctor who healed me, it was the business opportunity that came my way, and so forth.
Therefore, we need to pray a double prayer: 1 – that G-d answer our prayers for whatever we need, and 2 – that our Evil Inclination be unsuccessful in persuading us that the success is our own.
We can take this amazing lesson from Elijah — “Answer me, G-d, answer me.”