The three young boys Gilad, Naftali and Eyal ( HY”D) were kidnapped and executed by the Palestinian murderers several hours before their disappearance became known. The prayer meetings, the gatherings. The Torah study and the waves of loving-kindness all began to develop when those three holy souls were already resting in the comfort of Heaven’s embrace.
One may ask, then, was it all for naught? Can prayers really “work”?
We need to first understand what “prayer “ is in the first place. How does it “work”? Does G-d actually “need” our prayers and what effect do they have on Him, if any? In the world we live in, we pray for things to happen and for others not to. Those prayers do not always achieve what we set out for them to do. Yet they always achieve what Hashem intended for them to do.
Prayer does not change G-d’s mind, it changes us.
We read that King Hezekiah is told of the Divine decree declaring that he would die. He turns to the wall in prayer and Hashem thereupon rescinds the decree (2 Kings 20:1-6). What did Hezekiah say that G-d was not already aware of and brought about the seeming change? In actual fact, his prayer did not change G-d’s mind at all. Hezekiah’s prayer changed Hezekiah. He became a new Hezekiah after prayer, a new vessel, and as a result was worthy of a different decree.
The crisis and tragedy surrounding these three boys transformed this country. The nobility and steadfast faith of the families of these boys uplifted the collective and individual soul and spirit of this country. The plight of these young men empowered the members of this extended family called Israel to ensure that no stone was left unturned, both physically and spiritually.
The tens of thousands who came to the funeral walked for an hour to get from their cars and buses to as close to the graves as they could. There was not a sense of walking as separate entities joining a larger community. The determined and hushed procession towards the gravesite was experienced as if by one collective soul. That feeling of oneness was so palpable that one did not have to acknowledge or express it to any one that was there. They were all there to be with the families .They were there because they needed to be. They needed to stand together, pray together, cry together and simply breath together.
This people of Israel have been transformed by these three souls and their spiritually elevating families. The prayers , yearning and hopes of all the people of this land had transformed them.
We then return to our question; “was it all for naught? Do prayers “work”?
King David writes;
“With G-d, I will praise His word; in G-d I trusted, I will not fear. What can flesh do to me? All day long, my words grieve [me]; all their thoughts about me are for evil. …. You counted my wanderings; place my tears in Your flask. Is it not in Your accounting? Then my enemies will retreat on the day that I call. Thereby I will know that I have a G-d.( Psalm 56:5-10)
What do the words “place my tears in Your flask.”mean?
The psalmist is declaring that there is never a tear shed in vain and never a prayer left unanswered. The answer to all those prayers can sometimes wait for its appointed time for fulfillment.
May the memories of the young boys Nafatali, Eyal and Gilad be for a blessing for their families and for all of us. May all those prayers gathered in the heavens bear fruit quickly in our days.
LeRefuat Yehudit Bat Golda Yocheved