Rav Lipman Podolsky z"l In
Poor Yosef. For twelve years he rotted away in a damp, dismal, Egyptian dungeon (Bamidbar Rabba 15:12). How lonely he must have felt, how forsaken! No due process of law. No defense attorneys to appeal to the Supreme Court. Utterly and absolutely alone, in an endless, no-win situation.
So desperate was Yosef that he begged the Sar HaMashkim (Minister of Beverages) to plead on his behalf to Pharaoh. Because he placed too much faith in human endeavor, Yosef was condemned to an additional two years. As far as he could know, he would remain in that hole in the ground for ever and ever. No one would ever know what had become of him. How sad, how lonely.
How Yosef must have davened. How many tears he must have shed? "Please Hashem, rescue me from this endless suffering! Take me out like only You can!" And yet, his prayers seemed to have gone unanswered. Twelve long years, three times every day, Yosef poured out his heart for Divine mercy. At least thirteen thousand one hundred and forty times, Yosef beseeched his Creator. How many times can a person be "rejected" and continue to try? Where is Hashem? Why is He not listening to me?
And then came that last prayer. Yosef, never questioning Hashem's undying love for him, davened one more time. There was no way he could know that this prayer would be responded to any differently than before. He davened, he placed his faith in Hashem, "that if He wants to, He can surely take me out."
And then the time came. Unbeknownst to Yosef, things were happening in the royal palace. Gears were turning, orders were issued. "Pharaoh sent and summoned Yosef, and they rushed him from the dungeon (Breishis 41:14)." Yosef was free!
Note that Yosef's emancipation was not a gradual process. They rushed him! "Like the way of all Divine salvation, which comes in a moment... (Sforno ibid.)." Prayer has a build-up effect. No one prayer saves; they all do. When the deluge of tears starts to break through the dam of sins, nothing can stop it. All it takes is one tiny crack through the iron curtain -- our prayers inundate the heavens. "For My salvation is soon to come (Yeshaya 56:1)!" We are saved! As Rav Aryeh Levin used to say: "Hashem's salvation comes in the blink of an eye!"
The secret is not to give up. Keep trying, keep crying. "Suddenly, the L-rd Whom you seek will come to His Sanctuary... (Malachi 3:1)." Salvation is at hand, we just have to earn it.
Hashem, please listen to the tears of your children, and bring peace upon us. "He Who makes peace in His heights, may He, in His compassion, make peace upon us, and upon all Yisrael, Amen!"