His arguments were to no avail. Mrs. Efrat, who was a baalas teshuvah (one who had come to Torah Judaism of her own volition), said that she didn't know any tzaddikim, Rebbes or any other prominent Roshei Yeshivah whom she could easily relate to or speak openly with. That is why she desired to receive a berachah from Rabbi Gutman.He thought quietly for a few moments and then said to Mrs. Efrat, "I want you to know that I feel your anguish and I share your pain. I myself have a daughter living in Milwaukee, who has been married for more than ten years and has never borne a child. The Gemara (Bava Kama 92A) instructs us 'If one has a problem and prays for another who has the identical problem, he who has prayed will be answered first.'Let us make an agreement between us. You pray for my daughter and I will pray for you."
Now it was Mrs. Efrat who was struck by another's anguish. The personal pain that Rabbi Gutman had unexpectedly shared with her, and the unique suggestion he proposed, bonded the young woman with the renowned individual who sat before her. She felt an inner serenity and knew that regardless of what the future held, her trip had been worthwhile.
One website is www.kolhamevakeish.org, where they match up groups of 11 people, so that each person has a minyan of people praying on their behalf. The earlier one is davenx.torah.org. The idea is that if you pray for someone else, you will get answered first. But doesn't this pose a logical and theological problem? How can anyone get answered first, if each person is praying for the other person? :)
Why has this not been done in previous generations? This is a trait of our generation, that turns every inspiring statement into a segulah. Thus e.g. challah-baking groups, and giving tzedaka as a segulah. It probably also has to do with the organizational power which is possible with the Internet.
Anyway, the gemara in Bava Kamma 92a reads:
Raba said to Rabbah b. Mari: Whence can be derived the lesson taught by our Rabbis that one who solicits mercy for his fellow while he himself is in need of the same thing, [will be answered first]? — He replied: As it is written:And the Lord changed the fortune of Job when he prayed for his friends. He said to him: You say it is from that text, but I say it is from this text: 'And Abraham prayed unto God and God healed Abimelech and his wife and his maidservants,' and immediately after it says: And the Lord remembered Sarah as he had said, etc., [i.e.] as Abraham had [prayed and] said regarding Abimelech.
The thing is, in neither of these two examples was the Biblical character doing this as a trick, to force Hashem to fulfill one's will. Rather, they were able to put aside their own "selfish" concerns and focus on other people's needs, even where the other person had the same need as himself. This is an excellent trait to have and develop. And then, in reward for such a good attitude, when Hashem answers, He even first turns to help the individual who did not think of himself first. This is an inspirational message, rather than a trick.
But if someone would not be davening for other people having the same condition, except that he or she heard of this gemara and of this segulah trick, then are they really davening for the other person? Or are they really davening for themselves, in a clever roundabout fashion? Are you developing within yourself, or manifesting, this trait of caring for others and not just your own narrow concerns?
(cross-listed to Segulah Watch)