The Power Of Belief

The Medrash tells us that immediately after Yom Kippur we are supposed to be in a festive mode and that we are to eat with simcha because we can be certain that the process of teshuva was successful. Obviously we understand that there is no guarantee, and there have been many years that klal Yisrael have seen untold tzoros, galus and persecution. It seems to me that the Medrash is giving us an approach to our next challenge in Avodas Hashem: To have the proper attitude and belief.

I once heard a story about a woman who seemed to not be able to bear children—it was told to me by someone close to her.

A childless woman in New York knew Rav Moshe Feinstein well because her father was one of his talmidim. She firmly believed that he had the power to give her a brocho, which would result in her having a child. She went to visit him, and while Reb Moshe agreed to give her a brocho, he refused to guarantee that it would work. She thanked Reb Moshe, but said she would not leave his home until she received a guarantee that the brocho would be fulfilled and that she would have a child within the year. Reb Moshe reflected for a moment and gave her the brocho with a guarantee of its efficacy.* After the woman left, the Talmidim of Reb Moshe showed their surprise because this was out of his character. “How could the Rav be so sure that the brocho will work?” they asked. “I know that I do not have the power to give brochos that are guaranteed to work,” responded Reb Moshe, “yet this woman believes that I have that power. Chazal tell us that the tzaddik hador indeed has the power to give brochos. Though I do not believe that I am that person with such a power—and I let this woman know as such—she instead believed the statement from Chazal that a “tzaddik hador” can give such a brocho, and she believed that I was such a person. In this women’s eyes, coming to me is a simple act of spiritual hishtadlus , no more than a regular Tefillah said at Shacharis every day. It seems to me that in the merit of her putting her trust in Chazal, she will be guaranteed to bear a child.”

From this story one may suggest that a woman who may have had a decree issued that she would not have children, but with sheer belief in a maamar chazal, she was able to change this decree. Possibly a person who lives post Yom Kippur with the belief in Chazal’s statement (to eat with simcha because we can be certain that the process of teshuva was successful) can indeed merit a positive judgement at the culmination of din on Hoshana Raba, which can even overturn a negative judgement (chas v’sholom) that was given on Yom Kippur. This Chazal is telling us a win-win approach to the Yomim Hanora’im: This positive attitude, post Aseres Yomei Teshuva, together with a person’s living his new life as a baal teshuva, can bring about our ultimate successful year.

*Upon investigating this story, I found out that the woman never even told her husband that she went to Reb Moshe and received a positive brocho, for she took it as a normal part of her life. Like Chana whose tefillos were accepted, she too believed that the brocho of Reb Moshe would be accepted. Within the year of receiving the brocho, she gave birth to a child.