Rav Avigdor Miller on on Praying About Misfortunes



We said at a previous lecture that a man should pray for health even when he has it; he should ask Hashem that he shouldn’t get sick. But doesn’t that contradict the idea of אל יפתח אדם פיו לשטן – not to open your mouth to the satan by speaking of misfortunes that could occur (Brachos 19a)?


There’s a Jewish principle, not to speak about unfortunate possibilities. For example, a man shouldn’t say to his wife, “If one of us dies, then I’m going to Eretz Yisroel to settle.”

It’s a Jewish principle in how we speak.

It’s goyish to say like a boy said to his rebbe; he said, “Rebbe, if an ox would gore you and kill you, does he have to pay koifer?”  You don’t talk that way.  Jews don’t talk that way.

However, when it comes to tefillah, tefillah is just the opposite. You’re praying to Hakodosh Boruch Hu and that’s not פותח פה לשטן.  And we find everywhere that this kind of tefillah is employed. So you have a right to ask Hakodosh Boruch Hu to protect you, מדבר וחרב ורעב ויגון, a whole list of misfortunes, because when you’re praying to Hakodosh Boruch Hu, that’s the One to whom you can unburden yourself and you don’t have to worry.

But otherwise, in idle conversation, we don’t want to say anything that’s not happy.  Even to make yourself unhappy is not virtuous.  We always look at the sunny side of life and never mention misfortunes.

There are some people who are crabby and are always thinking about what might happen and Hakodosh Boruch Hu says, “If you’re misusing the opportunity I gave you to be happy, then I’m going to make you unhappy; I’ll bring misfortune on you and now you’ll look back and regret the good old days when things were going well.”

So don’t talk about misfortunes and not happy things.  But when it comes to prayer, then you can pray to Hakodosh Boruch Hu for all good things including that He should save you from all misfortunes.

TAPE # 77 (July 1975)