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The Systems of the Jewish Year

The Letter

By Rabbi Sender Haber

Before my last trip to Israel, I invited my third grade students to write notes to G-d. There is an ancient custom to put messages in the Western Wall and I thought that it would be a meaningful and worthy exercise. I promised not to read the notes and encouraged the students to put serious thought into the words that they would write.

I watched with apprehension and awe as one girl wrote her letter with tears pouring down her cheeks. I knew that she was not crying because of the letter, but about some of the challenges that she was describing. It was awful to see her crying but touching to know to whom she was crying. I carefully placed all of the letters into one sealed envelope and packed it away for my trip. I assured the students that I would be a faithful messenger.

Later that night I received an emergency phone call. One girl had been home with the flu. Was there time to bring her letter over to my house?

The girl had used a tiny florist’s envelope to hold her letter. I don’t know what was on the note inside the envelope, but on the front of the envelope was a simple message in the careful handwriting of a ten-year-old:

“To: Hashem; From Chana”.

I don’t know what came over me, but I was overcome with emotion and struck by the beauty and plaintiveness of the letter. I stuck the envelope into my pocket and kept it with me as I boarded the plane a few hours later.

A trip to Eretz Yisroel is always an emotional experience, but this time I felt like so many of my emotions were articulated in that simple envelope. All of the logistics, politics, planning, excitement, and trepidation were encapsulated in those four words on the outside of the envelope. I was going to the land of Hashem and Hashem was waiting for and listening to my prayers.

I couldn’t control myself. I showed the envelope to my sister when she met me in New York and to the Rosh Yeshiva who sat down next to me on the plane. I showed it to the woman behind me on the escalator and to the couple in line with me at the border. I showed to a Christian Pilgrim at the baggage claim and to my family when I arrived at the wedding.

Finally, faithfully, even lovingly, I placed the tiny letters from the little girls into an ancient crack between the age worn stones of the Kosel.

I hope that all of my prayers are as pure and uncomplex as the prayers of those small children. I hope that we all merit to see our prayers find their way to Hashem’s throne as He blesses us with purity, sincerity, sensitivity, and connection to Hashem.

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