Q: Earlier you quoted from the Mesillas Yesharim that when we daven for Moshiach and for the Binyan Beis Hamikdash, even though our tefilos may not cause it to come but still it’s a nachas ruach to Hashem when we ask and we get reward for that. Then why is there a halacha that a tefillas shav, a tefillah that’s said in vain, is forbidden?
A: Let’s say if a person has grain and he already measured it and he sees he has ten bushels of grain. Once he measured it, he can’t say “Ribono Shel Olam, make it into eleven bushels.” That’s a tefilas shav, because it’s ridiculous. He won’t do it for you. He won’t make a miracle for you.
Now, before you measure it you can say, “Ribono Shel Olam, see that it should be as much as possible.” Yes, then it could be that instead of ten it would be eleven. Yes, it could happen; as long as it wasn’t known beforehand exactly how much it is, it could still happen. אין הברכה מצויה אלא בדבר הסמוי מן העין – If it’s not known to people, a nes could happen (Taanis 8b).
And therefore, you shouldn’t ask for silly things. Let’s say you ask that now it should be daytime. So you say, “I want to get a reward for davening. I’m asking for daytime.”
So Hashem says, “Look, a person shouldn’t be a letz. He shouldn’t say devarim beteilim.” ודברת בם ולא בדברים בטלים. He shouldn’t talk devarim beteilim; it’s osur (Yuma 19b) And therefore, every tefilah has to have some sense to it.
But when a person prays for things that he doesn’t see right now any results but it could be, it could happen, he is justified in praying and he gets reward for it.
TAPE # 962 (June 1994)