Question
Regarding the age-old question, why does it seem that Hashem is ignoring my prayers? I have seen various answers but none of them are satisfactory to me. Hashem is responding. "No" is also an answer. Hashem has something better in plan for you. Hashem knows that what you are praying for is not good for you. Hashem is using your tefila to give you something else that you didn't even ask for. Who knows how much worse it would've been without the prayer. Every tefila is precious. If not used for you, it is being used for your decedents or other Yidden. Hashem is a secret amount of how many tefilos he needs to be begged for each thing. Every tefila goes into the heavenly repository. Hashem is saving the rewards for Olam Habah. Tefilla is only meant as a means for to be connected to Hashem. Hashem knows what we need. Tefilla is for us to know that we need from Hashem. Hashem is testing me to see how I will react when I feel that He is ignoring me. Hashem is not beholden to me. He doesn't have to do what I want. Did I miss any other explanation? The vast majority of tefilos do not get the hoped for response from Hashem. How many yidden cried out to Hashem in Mitzraim? How many were actually taken out of Mitzraim? 4/5 died at Makos Choshech, besides for the countless others who were killed by the Egyptians all along. What happened with the prayers of all the mothers of the babies that were butchered? What happened to the millions of tefillos that the Nazi victims davened? How many yidden asked Hashem v'sechezenu eineinu b'shuvcha l'tzion b'rachamim? Where is the rachamim? Where is the v'sechezenu eineinu? How many tefilos did the Chofetz Chaim daven? Is Hashem not the shome'ah tefilos kol peh? When I daven to Hashem, even though I know that Hashem is aware of everything and hears that I am davening, since I know that the likelihood of my tefilos being accepted are statistically very low, I feel that I am effectively being ignored. If you walk into a clothing store to buy a suit and the shopkeeper takes your money and gives you a new couch will you be satisfied? He gave you something better - but he did not give you what you paid for. What if the suit that you asked for is given to your son, brother, neighbor, or coreligionist who lives 6,000 miles away. Would you still consider him an honest storekeeper? When a child asks his parent for ice cream right before suppertime the parent may decline. The parent might substitute it for something healthier. Did the child get what he asked for? He asked for an ice cream. He doesn't care that he was given carrot sticks and cucumbers. His request was NOT fulfilled. And if he asks another twenty times his father just says that he is a nudge and ignores him. Rashi in Parshas Va'eschanan says that Hashem told Moshe to cease praying "in order that they shouldn't say, 'Oh, the talmid is begging and the Master is so stubborn." Nu? At 515 tefilos that is not a kashe yet? Is Hashem stubborn as a rock that needs to be chipped away bit by bit? Then don't say how precious and valbuable each individual tefila is! The most common lousy answer I get is, "Appreciate that Hashem didn't make your life even worse. Look at how many people have greater difficulties than you." Is that the best that Hashem can do? I need to be grateful that He is not even worse? As if Hashem can ONLY do things in a nasty way, either this bad way or another bad way?? Avimelech said to Yitzchok that he did "Only good - I sent you away in peace." That's the gratitude Avimelech expects for not murdering Yitzchok. Hashem didn't need to create me. I didn't deserve it. I didn't earn it. Hashem chose to create me in His world. Why? Was it in order to have whom to make suffer? Does Hashem enjoy teasing? Did Hashem make me in order to find expression to His cruel and sadistic desires??? In therapy, kids who were abused build things in order to smash them. They make dolls and then beat them up. Is Hashem like an abused kid and made me to spite me? Hashem didn't need to create me, but now that He did, man d'yahiv chaya yahiv mezona. I often feel that I want to say to Hashem, "Hashem, don't give me half things. Either you shouldn't have created me at all; but now that you did, why don't you give me a full geshmak existance? Why create me and give me so many difficulties?"   I am exaggerating. I don't mean it as I am writing it. I am just trying to get my point across. I hope that you are not put off by my bluntness.   Reb Shimon bar Yochai's talmidim asked for their promised riches. He went to the valley and asked it to fill with gold and diamonds. When his talmidim went to grab it he said that it had to have come from somewhere (i.e their olam habbah) so they stopped and didn't take. However, I am bothered by the question, is Hashem bank account limited? Hashem's budget cannot afford to give both?? Then there is no use/not worthwhile to ever daven to Hashem for anything?! The explanation that Hashem wants us to EARN our reward in order that it should not be Nahama D'kesifa is also not sufficient for me. After all, who set the ground rules? Hashem is bound by the 'fact' and was forced to make us earn the reward in such a difficult world? A world in which many people do not have a single sweet day in their life? If Hashem has such a strong desire to give because of 'derech hatov l'heitiv', could Hashem not have let us be yeishev b'shalva b'olam hazeh AND olam habah?? That Hashem is saving the rewards for Olam Habah is one of the best answers. It basically skirts the question by saying, "You don't see the bigger picture." In the grand scheme of things, if I would be the god in charge and I would have all the knowledge that Hashem has, if I would be controlling neshamos and gilgulim I would have done everything EXACTLY the way Hashem did it. Proof? Hashem does know all that and chose to to do this way!   I admit. My belief in Olam Habah is somewhat lacking. But that is my only silver lining. Al hatzad that it is true and there really is an Olam Habah, I try to do all the actions of Yiddishkeit in order to have at least that. Otherwise I will have none. That's how someone scared me off years ago from thinking about suicide. He said, "Why do you think it will be better for you up there than here? If someone takes his own life he loses his olam habah..."   I try to be mechazek myself with thinking along the lines of the following: The seforim say that the main avoda and nisayon of a person is when he does NOT feel that Hashem is close by. א-לקים נסה את אברהם... וירא את המקום מרחוק To believe in Hashem when everything is the way I want it to be is not אמונה. If I trust that Hashem is in control and can get myself to feel confident with His control, then I am a yid who is a מאמין. I was struggling with this during davening today. Even though I feel that Hashem anyway ignored my davening, I tried to daven properly anyway. I was telling myself that THIS IS THE CURRENT TEST! Hashem is testing me to see if I will do the right action and daven even when He is hiding His face from me.  

Question
Dear Rabbi, I do not follow the Jewish dietary laws nor do I celebrate any holidays. But my parents are Jewish and I have tried to live a good and decent life. Am I still a Jew?

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Jews have been the most successful ethnic group from 20th century onward. Is it because of the merit of Torah study and mitzvot? Are Jews successful because Jews study Torah and keep mitzvot?

Question
Rabbi, a Christian asked me what is the Hebrew word for "worship" and if we use the word. I only found, “Lisgod”, לסגוד. I don’t remember using this in any service. I told her "Baruch." What do you think? Todah

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Are there any other Kabbalistic prayers other than "Ana B'Koach" ?

Question
A commentary in Friday's Wall Street Journal notes "every synagogue requires two to fulfill its religious duties." I did some research and see references to the "written" and "oral" Torah, but not sure about the requirement for two scrolls. Can you tell me if this is true, and if so, what are the requirements?   Thanks very much   Aaron