How to Negotiate Success with G‑d

by: Rabbi YisraelBaron

(Published January 13th, 2014 Sunny Isles Beach Community Newspapers)


A fellow is running late for a very important meeting and is having a hard time finding a parking space. He was getting desperate, so he makes a deal with G‑d. "If I find a parking space now, I will give $500 to charity," he vows. Just then, a car pulls out in front of him, making that parking spot available for our deal maker. As he quickly maneuvers into the spot, he makes sure to tell G‑d, "Never mind the deal, G‑d, I found one on my own."

The Talmud tells us that we all may make a prayer from time to time. The question is how sincere is that prayer? How real is the presence of G‑d to us? To illustrate this point, the Talmud tells us about how even a thief will pray to G‑d for his livelihood. A thief prays just as he is about to make a heist and burrow into a building. He prays to G‑d that he should succeed.


So how do you negotiate success with G‑d? Obviously, we need to be sincere. The problem is that it might feel like a one-sided conversation when we don't hear a response.


The Torah tells us the story of Eliezer, Abraham's servant, who was sent to search for a wife for his master's son, Isaac. Knowing that he needed Divine help, he prayed to G‑d. He also knew that G‑d would not necessarily whisper exact directions into his ear about where to find the perfect girl for Isaac. So, Eliezer makes a deal with G‑d and says, “I will ask a girl for water to drink. If she, on her own accord, also offers water for my camels as well, this shall be the the one for Isaac.”The Torah then tells us that this scenario actually played out, and that is how Rebekah was chosen as a bride for Isaac.


The Talmud, however, warns us not to learn from Eliezer's request to G‑d with such detailed specifications. Asking for G‑d's direction in life is not a problem, but telling G‑d exactly how to communicate with us is improper. It is even arrogant. It is up to G‑d to choose what mode of communication he wishes to use in order to deliver his message to us.


Yes, pray to G‑d. But don't put G‑d in a box and expect a response in one specific form. We ought to put in our request, and then keep our eyes open for a response in the form of G‑d's choosing.


The Talmud tells us that G‑d overlooked the improper tone of Eliezer's request and he was answered favorably. The Talmud continues and tells of a similar story where G‑d did not overlook an improperly phrased request, and there was a sad ending. The brazen mode of Eliezer's request was overlooked on account of whom he represented. Eliezer was on a mission as a representative of Abraham, and was not negotiating for his own personal success. Actually, Eliezer would have rather seen his own daughter marry Isaac. Unlike the thief who prays for a successful heist, Eliezer's prayer was selfless, so his mistake was overlooked.


So pray for success sincerely and with humility. Then listen and watch carefully for your answer. This is your key to success.