By Naomi Elbinger
We all know someone we desperately wish would get married, or have a baby, or recover from a health condition, or overcome a financial setback. Perhaps that person is you.
When all our efforts fail and seem to be going nowhere, we have an option that has long been recommended by the Gedolim of Yerushalayim — 40 days of prayer at the Western Wall. Hundreds of Yerushalmim will testify that their heart’s desires were fulfilled after 40 consecutive days at the Kosel.
In early 2003, Gershon Burd was learning in a yeshivah in Yerushalayim. After five years of searching for his zivug, he tried 40 days at the Kosel. During that period, across the city, a young woman named Batya, who hadn’t even begun looking into shidduchim, suddenly felt that she was ready for marriage. An acquaintance introduced them, and they became engaged two weeks later.
In order to bring the power of the 40-days-of-prayer segulah to the world while raising money for Yerushalmi families, Gershon and Batya Burd started Western Wall Prayers in 2004. The service enables anyone anywhere in the world to request a prayer for a minimum donation of $90. The donor is matched with a ben Torah or the wife of a ben Torah who goes to the Kosel for 40 consecutive days, giving tzedakah for them each time.
Meanwhile, the donor offers the same prayer every day along with his or her shaliach, creating a potent partnership. The donation is used to support kollel families in Yerushalayim. Rabbi Berel Wein acts as a reference for the program, and Rabbi Avigdor Nebensahl, Chief Rabbi of the Old City, recites a Mi Sheberach for those who donate $360.
“Under Jewish law, if you appoint an agent to do something for you, it is exactly as if you are doing it yourself,” says Batya Burd. “The donation is a gashmi blessing that we connect to the ruchni blessing of praying at the Kosel. It’s tefillah and tzedakah in one — a blessing for all involved.”
Obviously, Western Wall Prayers does not guarantee answers to every person’s tefillos; everything is ultimately in Hashem’s hands. But the couple has published some 110 success stories, including that of Brooklyn’s Ella Sanders, who had been searching for her zivug for five years when she heard about Western Wall Prayers. When she asked that her agent pray that she marry the man she was then seeing seriously, she was advised to make her prayer more general.
“Well, that shidduch didn’t work out,” says Sanders. “Instead I met another man with incredible middos, and we got married a few months later… We now have a baby boy.”
After Eli P. of Chicago was diagnosed with colon cancer, his son contacted Western Wall Prayers and asked them to pray for 40 days for a complete recovery. “On the 36th day, the doctors operated and were astounded to find nothing but a small infection,” says Eli. “I was also surprised until I found out that my son had sponsored a prayer agent for me.”
Other notable participants include Paulina Aguilar of Chile, who gave birth to her daughter exactly one year after her agent began praying that she would become a mother, and Lisa M., who says that her mother’s wondrous recovery from cancer has her doctor “looking to the heavens for an explanation.”
To sign up for prayers for yourself or a loved one, call 1-866-343-4173.