The Blum family was driving home late one night from an out-of-town wedding. After three hours of traveling the car started to make strange noises.
Mrs. Blum looked at her husband worriedly. "What is that?" she asked in a hushed tone, not wanting to wake up the children who were asleep in the back seat.
"I'm not sure," he answered. "Last week when I had the car checked, Jimmy said everything looked fine. I'll take it in again tomorrow and check it out."
"We are only an hour away from home," Mrs. Blum whispered. "I hope we make it."
Mr. Blum did not have a chance to answer. Suddenly the noises became louder, and then the car stalled. "Oh no!" blurted Mrs. Blum exclaimed out loud. "Stuck on the highway in the middle of the night with a car full of kids..."
"Why did we stop?"
One by one the children awoke, rubbing their eyes and looking around in the dark, confused. Mr. Blum went out to check the engine and Mrs. Blum explained to the children what had happened.
"What are we going to do?"
"Can we go to a motel?"
"It looks like there is nothing around for miles."
The children were talking nervously as their father called from under the hood, "Where is the cell phone?"
"Whom are you going to call at this late hour?" Mrs. Blum asked.
"I'll call Jimmy. We have no choice," Mr. Blum answered. "I can't figure out what's wrong. He knows our car best. Besides, he gave me his word that everything was fine. I hope he won't be too upset. It's dangerous to leave the car here. We are stalled on a curve, and if they don't see us, people driving behind us may not be able to stop in time."
Mr. Blum used the loud speaker on his phone so that his hands would be free to work on the car. Soon everyone could hear Jimmy giving step-by-step instructions. At last, it seemed that the problem was solved.
"Now, be very careful," Jimmy was saying. "You told me you are stalled on the curve of a hill. The problem with your car may cause it to roll downhill as soon as you let the brake go. Let me review what I said once more."
Jimmy went over his instructions. "Now, Mr. Blum, you've got it. Do step one, then two and three. Ready?"
But instead of a reply, all Jimmy heard on the phone were some words in a language he couldn't understand.
We know what Mr. Blum was saying. He was following Yaakov Avinu's example in a time of trouble. In this week's parshah, we read about the famine that caused Yaakov to send his sons down with Binyamin to Mitzrayim against Yaakov's wishes. This was a difficult time, as Yaakov said, "I lost Yosef, and Shimon was taken captive, and I am afraid of losing Binyamin."
There were steps to be taken to try to avoid the danger that might await them while they would be seeking food in Mitzrayim. Yaakov's instructions to his sons included bringing gifts and taking extra money. Finally he said, "All that is left to do now is to daven to HaShem and ask for His help."
A Jew must always do what has to be done to solve a problem. Action should be taken. Through these actions HaShem will send us His help. But our tefillos are most important. It is our tefillos that bring HaShem to respond to our difficulty and to send His help.
(Adapted from Likkutei Sichos, Vol. XXV, p. 227)