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Please watch this video on YouTube by Rabbi Zamir Cohen regarding prayer.

https://youtu.be/-dT8TaWdWSo?si=4eNFXHOyVMZ1b9s6

Does Hashem answer ALL our prayers no matter what we ask for?

#1."no prayer ever goes unanswered."

#2. When we activate the power of speech and prayer Hashem causes the abundance [of whatever we are praying for] to descend down towards us.

#3. That Hashem saves our prayers and uses them at another time in our life.

This is a quote from the video:

"There is a concept that no prayer goes unanswered. When a person prays for something, even when they see the prayer was not accepted and what they asked for did not happen, but the prayer is not in vain, Hashem keeps this prayer and uses it in another time and place...your prayers can be effective later on in life...your prayers connect the universe to God's abundance and brings it down. Sometimes a person is unaware of the presence awaiting him in heaven. It's like a pipeline waiting with abundance. A person's prayers insert this abundance Into the pipeline and it dissends down into the physical world. If a person doesn't pray then everything stays in the upper worlds. When he activates the power of speech and prayer he causes the abundance to descend down towards him. Therefore a person who prays and says 'I don't see any results In my prayers', don't think that your prayers are in vain. Your prayers have been saved. The day will come and this prayer will be effective because no prayer ever goes unanswered."

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  • welcome to Mi Yodeya! I'm not personally a fan of Cohen, but in this case he is quoting a famous letter by the Steipler Gaon.
    – N.T.
    Jan 19 at 22:43
  • 1
    No is an answer Jan 31 at 18:51
  • By praying you connect yourself to a greater whole. In that greater whole, all prayers are answered.
    – The GRAPKE
    Jan 31 at 18:54
  • I think you can test it yourself whether all prayers are answered. Observe it for yourself.
    – setszu
    Jan 31 at 19:46

4 Answers 4

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+50

If I recall correctly, Rav Yaakov Hillel explains in Faith and Folly (it's possible that this is a mix of what I read there and what I have heard from Rav Yaakov Darmoni) that prayer is a force of nature like any other force that must have an effect. With Avodah Zara, the prayer was directed at an angel. Since every angel has only one job (see Rashi Breshit 18:1), the prayers directed at an angel would automatically be answered positively since that is all he can do (hence the lure of Avodah Zara). For example, every blade of grass has an angel (Breshit Rabba 10:6, Zohar I 251a), if one finds out the name of that angel and prays him, the grass would have supernatural growth. Hashem on the other hand is in charge of everything. One can pray for one thing e.g. money, Hashem may instead give him (or family) life since he was supposed to die (see Seder Hadorot, Yehoshua ben Levi 4).

In short, every prayer has a positive effect like every other mitzvah does, and one can save the whole world with it (see Rambam Teshuva 3:4) and therefore is "answered", but the answer is not necessarily yes.

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Chapter 22 in Tehillim answers this in connection with the beginning of the final redemption.

That night is compared to the period of exile and dawn, when the first light appears in the morning sky before sunrise, is compared to the beginning of the final redemption.

To this Tehillim 22:3 states:

אֱֽלֹהַ֗י אֶקְרָ֣א י֭וֹמָם וְלֹ֣א תַעֲנֶ֑ה וְ֝לַ֗יְלָה וְֽלֹא־דֻֽמִיָּ֥ה לִֽי׃

Which means:

My G-d, I cry by day and You do not answer; and by night, and there is no respite for me.

This follows the general teaching, like can be found in connection with the first sign of the final redemption from Sefer Avkat Rochel by the Rishon, Rabbeinu Makir, about how at the very beginning of the redemption, even the prayers of the righteous and the sages will not be answered, as if there were none whose prayers are worthy of being answered in that generation.

In historical context, this points to the time of the Holocaust of world War II when over six million of our innocent Jewish brothers and sisters were slaughtered. In Midrash and Shas, this is alluded to by the story of the father and son returning home following a long wagon trip. The son, out of impatience, repeatedly asks his father if they have reached home yet. And finally the father tells his son that he can watch for the outermost sign that they are near home. And what is that sign indicating the approaching conclusion of their long trip? They will see the cemetery that is on the outermost edge of the city limits.

But even to this idea of worthy prayers not being answered, we receive the words of the Prophet Habakkuk 2:3, which says:

כִּ֣י ע֤וֹד חָזוֹן֙ לַמּוֹעֵ֔ד וְיָפֵ֥חַ לַקֵּ֖ץ וְלֹ֣א יְכַזֵּ֑ב אִם־יִתְמַהְמָהּ֙ חַכֵּה־ל֔וֹ כִּי־בֹ֥א יָבֹ֖א לֹ֥א יְאַחֵֽר׃

Which means:

For there is an addition of this prophecy, which applies to this season (but at a different moment in time), that leads to the final redemption and is not falsehood. Even if it appears to be delayed, watch expectantly for it; for it will surely come, and will not be delayed:

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The gemara in rosh hashana 18a say:

מִפְּנֵי מָה זֶה יָרַד וְזֶה לֹא יָרַד, זֶה נִיצַּל וְזֶה לֹא נִיצַּל? זֶה הִתְפַּלֵּל וְנַעֲנָה, וְזֶה הִתְפַּלֵּל וְלֹא נַעֲנָה. מִפְּנֵי מָה זֶה נַעֲנָה וְזֶה לֹא נַעֲנָה? זֶה הִתְפַּלֵּל תְּפִלָּה שְׁלֵימָה — נַעֲנָה, וְזֶה לֹא הִתְפַּלֵּל תְּפִלָּה שְׁלֵימָה — לֹא נַעֲנָה

For what reason did this one recover and come down from his bed, while that one did not recover and come down from his bed; and why was this one saved from death, while that one was not saved? The difference between them is that this one prayed and was answered, while that one prayed, but was not answered. And for what reason was this one answered and that one not answered? This one prayed a prayer with his whole heart and consequently was answered, while that one did not pray a prayer with his whole heart and therefore was not answered.

With out any need to elaborate, the gemara explicitly says that there is one who davens and is not answered.

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On the surface, if one searches Shas and midrashim for the phrase לא נענה or for ולא נענה it will yield a whole slew of scenarios/situations where prayers are not answered and specific instances where people were not answered.

One can find among those scenarios certain cases where something about the prayer was lacking but it seems that there are instances where there is merely no answer. In either case, the original question here is about all prayers, so the answer would seem no, that only some prayers are answered.

On a different level I imagine we should take into account what has been said in the name of the Steipler Gaon (I have seen someone quote from "A Letter For The Ages" by Rabbi Avrohom Chaim Feuer that this is from when Rav Shneur Kotler zt"l passed away in 1982 after thousands had prayed for his health) that an unanswered prayer will get answered at a later time. I still haven't found the original source for the Steipler's statement (eg. was it written in a sefer or who first heard the statement from him or did R. Feuer hear it directly from the Steipler?) and would appreciate that in a comment. I have also seen a similar thought quoted from Igros Chazon Ish (vol. 1, letter #2) but haven't seen the original context yet.

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