Wednesday, November 23, 2011

“Do not underestimate the blessing given by a simple person.” Talmud, Megilah 15a

Many years ago, noted author and lecturer Rabbi Nissan Mangel told this story to a group of students:
A childless couple approached their rebbe, hoping for a blessing for a child. To their bitter disappointment, the rebbe told them that their childlessness was a result of a heavenly decree which he was powerless to counteract. Hearing of this, friends of the broken-hearted couple sprang into action. Gathering in secret, the couple’s friends recited the entire book of Psalms and fasted. Within the year, the couple was blessed with a child.

Amongst Rabbi Mangel’s students was a group of women whose friend had been married many years but remained childless. They asked, “Can we do this, too?” Rabbi Mangel didn’t see why not, but suggested that they replace fasting with giving charity above and beyond their normal means. Within the year, their friend, too, was blessed with a child.

One of the women in the group shared their success story with me; I immediately called a third friend. We both knew a number of couples who were facing infertility or secondary infertility. We agreed to follow this model of Psalms recitation and giving charity, settling on Lag b’Omer for our efforts, a day traditionally associated with blessings for children.

We gathered together around the table and divided the Book of Psalms between us. After reciting the Psalms we read aloud the names of the couples — about ten or twelve. Then each of us gave charity to a single worthy cause, in an amount that was a bit challenging. Within the year, every couple except for one had a child.

While none of us at that table were kabbalists or great scholars, there’s a reason our efforts worked. Looking at others with a “good eye,” showing ahavat Yisrael, and sincere prayer, changes lives.


  1. The power of prayer! What a gift we Jews can give each other!