You Cannot Hide
By Rabbi Raymond Beyda
There once was a French Emperor who was fleeing from Russian troops that
wanted to kill him. He ran into a shop owned by a Jewish fabric merchant.
The merchant hid the Emperor under piles of fabric and the soldiers were
unable to find him. After the enemy had left the Emperor thanked the
merchant saying: "Ask for any three things that your heart desires and I
will do all in my power to fulfill your requests".
The poor tailor thought for a moment and then said: "It would be wonderful
if the Emperor could arrange to have the leaky roof in my shop repaired".
The Emperor responded angrily: "Is that all you can think of for a man of
my stature and wealth to do for you. That is embarrassing for me."
"Well," said the simple peasant, "perhaps Your Majesty could remove the
merchant who occupies the store opposite mine and eliminate the
competition that affects my financial well being so negatively."
Again the ruler retorted in anger: The poor fabric merchant then presented
his third wish. "Maybe the Emperor can reveal to me how he felt when the
enemy troops were searching my premises and the King was lying motionless
under the piles of piece goods."
"You arrogant one", cried the angry despot, "you will pay for your
behavior with your life".
One minute before the executioner carried out the sentence the Emperor
ordered him to release the prisoner. The Emperor turned to the trembling
peasant and said, "Now you know how I felt while lying under the yards and
yards of your fabric while my pursuers searched for me."
Rabbi Yaakov Naiman zt'l explains: When we pray to Hashem we ask for
sustenance and a good, comfortable life. It is not proper to waste the
opportunity to speak to the King of Kings about such petty matters. The
top of our "wish list" should be: "Reveal the glory of your sovereignty
upon as speedily". The halakha does not require one to go back and repeat
his or her prayers if one were to neglect to recite the High Holy Day
insertion of "Remember us for life". However, should one forget to
say: "And therefore place your fear upon all of your creations..." one
must repeat the Shemoneh Esre – because it is the essential thought of the
entire Rosh Hashanah service. If we merit this then we have it all. It is
as if a King asked a man what he would like. A wise person would request
the hand of the princess in marriage and all other good things would
follow naturally. So too -- we should pray for Hashem to reveal His
sovereignty and power and all other good things would follow “naturally”.
If one prepares the prayers for the crucial days of Tishre one will notice
that although everyone is being judged on Rosh Hashanah one only praises
Hashem's sovereignty at this crucial time. No phrases of remorse or
repentance are mentioned just praise to the King and request that He
reveal Himself to the entire World. If He should respond positively to
this noble request -- THEN all good things would follow.
May we all focus our prayers properly and may Hashem respond positively by
revealing His power and His love for us and may we see only good and
blessing in the new year with the coming of Mashiah speedily in our days.
Raymond J Beyda
Text Copyright © 2004 by Rabbi Raymond Beyda and Torah.org.