This year I had a very thought-provoking Rosh Hashana. I heard lots of great ideas over this three day yuntif and had some interesting conversations. Among the many different things that I was thinking about, I was thinking a lot about Hashem and davening. Aside from Shidduchim, I think that’s the topic that I’ve written about the most. So many times this year I would be davening and the following thought has gone through my head: I’ve asked Hashem for this so many times, is this Tefillah right now really going to make a difference? I mean, how many times have we all asked Hashem for peace for all of Klal Yisrael? How many times have we said Refaeinu and asked for Refuah Shelaimah for all of the Cholim? How many times have I davened to find my bashert and that my friends should too and that all the singles who want to find a spouse should get married? Is this Tefillah really going to make a difference?
Rosh Hashana is different. Somehow I feel like the Tefillot of Rosh Hashana are more powerful, since they are said when Hashem is judging us, and they are for the entire year. But on a regular typical day, it’s just another regular, typical Tefillah, right? Why should the 101st time that I’m asking Hashem for something get an answer and not the 100th? Sometimes it’s the advice that you give to others that you need to absorb yourself the most. This message is one I’ve told myself over and over in so many other areas, and for some reason this Rosh Hashana it just hit me.
One of my favorite stories of all time is the one about Rabbi Akiva and the water dripping into the stone. Rabbi Akiva was encouraged by his wife to go learn Torah, even though he was already forty years old and didn’t know anything about Torah. He started to learn Torah, but was so overwhelmed. There was too much information, so much that he had to learn, and it seemed like he was getting nowhere. He became discouraged and left Yeshiva. He was walking and saw a stone with water dripping into it drop by drop by drop by drop, very slowly. The drops of water created a hole in the stone. He realized that even though every little bit that he learned felt like a drop in the bucket, each drop is important, and all together they created this hole in the rock.
Sometimes it seems like you’re trying and trying and yet going no where. Each step you take is so small in compared to the distance you have to go, and so each step seems pointless. The key message is that even though each step seems pointless, it’s not. Every drop counts, every step counts, even though it seems so small. A flower starts with just a seed, but it grows to be so much bigger. A blizzard consists of so many snowflakes, but every snowflake counts. We are so stubborn to see it. No, it doesn’t, we argue. It doesn’t count! If there was one less snowflake, it would still be a blizzard. But where is the point where it changes from a flurry to a strong steady snow? Each one counts, even though we can’t see it.
The same is true with Tefillah. Each one counts. Why does Hashem choose to wait for the 101st prayer instead of answering the 100th? I don’t know. But each one counts. Each one makes an impact. The impact is so small that we make the mistake of believing that it is insignificant. Yes, it is small, but it is there. Don’t underestimate it. Maybe we don’t see the difference. We don’t see it, but it is there, so have faith and keep on davening. Does it really count? Yes, it does.