A person can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in their own toil. This too, I see, is from the hand of God, for without him, who can eat or find enjoyment? — Ecclesiastes 2:24–25
Prayer in Judaism is defined as “the work of the heart,” which profoundly changes the nature of prayer from one of entreating God to an act that transforms who we are – not what God does. Our devotions throughout this month are focused on the purpose of prayer, how to pray effectively, and the power of our prayers. Allow us to take your prayers to the holiest site in all Judaism, the Western Wall. To submit a prayer request to be taken to the Western Wall in Jerusalem, please go here.
In Jewish prayers, we recite a phrase that we should be satisfied by “the hand of God” and not the hand of man. The basic meaning of this prayer is that we should never have to rely on other people for sustenance. It’s a plea that God will create a means of providing for us that doesn’t degrade us or make us dependent on the whims of others. We are asking that God be manifest in our lives so that we have the means to support ourselves independently.
In Ecclesiastes, King Solomon wrote, “A person can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in their own toil. This too, I see, is from the hand of God, for without him, who can eat or find enjoyment?” In this verse, Solomon affirmed that all wealth is from the hand of God. Even if it appears that what we have earned is a result of our hard work, our brilliant ideas, or our lucky breaks, the truth is that it is all from God. It is God who orchestrated our success by giving us the strength, wisdom, and circumstances to make it possible.
We pray that we are nourished from the hand of God, and here in our verse, we are encouraged to remember that when we are successful it all stems from God. Yet, when we look deeper into the phrase “hand of God,” another important lesson emerges.
In Hebrew, the word for “your hand” is miyadecha. A similar word is the Hebrew word miyad, which means “immediately.” Connecting these two words, the rabbis teach that in life we can seek things miyad, instantly, or we can request that all blessings come miyadecha, from the hand of God.
In today’s world, there are many voices telling us that we need things now. We need that new car now. The new house now. The newest bit of technology now. People line up for hours before a new iPhone is released so that they can be the first to have it. Sometimes, we want to receive different circumstances immediately. We want to find a spouse immediately, have a baby immediately, or find a new job right away.
However, when we receive from the hand of God, we usually don’t get what we desire right away; instead we get the right thing in the right time. Too much too soon can be a curse, not a blessing.
Let’s remember when we pray for things in life to ask that they come from “God’s hand” — in the right way and at the perfect time — which only He can orchestrate precisely.
With prayers for shalom, peace,
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein
Founder and President