Rabbi O’s Weekly Parsha: V’eschanan (Deuteronomy 3:23-7:11)400 Barrels of Spoiled Wine

For which is a great nation that has a G-d Who is close to it, as is our G-d in all our calling to Him (Deut. 4:7).
Is prayer only for big things? No, it’s for everything. 
The Talmud (Brachot 5b) relates the following incident. Rav Huna had 400 barrels of wine that spoiled. His colleagues told him to do some soul-searching regarding the cause of this loss. Rav Huna asked, “Do you suspect me of having done anything improper?”
They responded, “Do you suspect G-d of doing something without just cause?” They then told him that word had gotten back to them that he was not giving his sharecropper the agreed-upon portion of the crop.
“But, he is a thief!” Rav Huna protested. “He steals from me. I have a right to withhold from him.” “Not so,” the Sages said. “Stealing from a thief is still theft”.
Suppose something like this would occur today. The search for the cause would be whether the temperature in the room was improper or the humidity too high or too low. Few people would search for the cause within themselves, in their ethical behavior. We should know that G-d regulates everything except for our free will in moral and ethical matters. As with Rav Huna, nothing happens without a cause.
Ultimately, there’s a plan and everything happens for a reason. But that’s a hard pill to swallow, especially when life sends curve balls. How does one come to understand and internalize that everything in life happens for a valid reason? The Chazon Ish (1878-1953) was once asked this question and he recommended getting into the habit of asking for G-d’s help in everything–even the small stuff. If you are on your way to work, pray that you should get there safely. If you are traveling to a family function, pray that everyone get there without incident. We think things just happen; I go to work every day and it’s fine, therefore it will be that way every day–but not everyone makes it to work every day. How long would it take to utter a sincere prayer for this? Even though it only takes a few seconds, some people can’t bring themselves to do it.
People ask, but if my prayer is not answered, what does it mean? We’re not prophets; no one can know why a given prayer is answered or not but it’s definitely not an indication that your prayer was insincere or inadequate. It just means the answer is no and realize that you did what you were supposed to by asking for G-d’s help and if it would have been in your best interest, you would have gotten what you asked for. 
There’s another advantage to prayer, it ingrains in you the idea that your words and actions have meaning. So many people go through life unhappy because they feel they are on a meaningless treadmill, working and doing other activities but, they believe, there’s no real purpose to anything they do. When you pray, you understand that G-d is listening and cares, and puts you in this world for a purpose. In classic Jewish thought we say that G-d loves our prayers. Our speech, actions, and lives have meaning and if you’re having a tough time relating to that idea, try praying for clarity to understand it. Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it.  (Yalkut Lekach Tov pp. 41-42; Twerski on Chumash pp. 368-369)Read More