monday, april 23, 2018 8:35 am zst

A Politburo of Two


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דרשו ה׳ בהמצאו קראהו בהיותו קרוב

In the beginning of Hilchot Tefillah, the Rambam writes that it's a מצות עשה to daven every day, as it says, ועבדתם את ה׳ אלוקכם, and we have a tradition that Avoda refers to Tefillah, as it says, ולעבדו בכל לבבכם, and what is עבודת הלב? - that is Tefillah.

The Ramban argues with the Rambam and says that while there is a מצוה דאורייתא to daven when we are in an eis tzara - a time of great need - the obligation to daven every day is only a מצוה דרבנן.

Tanach is replete with stories of prayer - indeed, Chazal say that Avraham, Yitzchak and Ya'akov established Shacharis, Mincha, and Ma'ariv, respectively. But no one taught us more about the power of prayer than Moshe Rabeinu. When the Bnei Yisrael sinned with the Golden Calf, he prayed for 40 days and 40 nights to gain their forgiveness. He was able to partially overturn the decree against him and get to at least see the land of Israel.

In Parshas Haazinu, when Moshe is about to die, it says וידבר ה׳ אל משה בעצם היום הזה לאמור. עלה אל הר העברים הזה.. ומת שם, - "And Hashem said to Moshe in the middle of that day: Go up on the mountain and die there". Rashi asks, why does it say "be-etzem ha-yom hazeh " - in the middle of this day? Rashi says that if the Bnei Yisrael might have said "we won't let Moshe die", Hashem is saying I will bring him up in the middle of the day to show that no one can stop Me. R' Chaim Shmuelevitz asks, how would one think that they could stop Moshe from dying? The sefer Ishei Yisrael suggests that the Bnei Yisrael learned from Moshe Rabeinu that the power of Tefillah was so strong that they might even be able to prevent his death through their Tefillos.

The Gemara answers an apparent contradiction in psukim - it says in Parshas Va'eschanan - כי מי ... כה׳ אלוקנו בכל קוראנו אליו - "for Who ... is as Hashem our God - whenever we call to him [He is close to us]." Yet it says in Yeshayahu, דרשו ה׳ בהמצאו - "seek out Hashem when he can be found". Is Hashem available whenever we call to him, or is there a specific time that he can be found? The Gemara answers, הא ביחיד, הא בציבור - the community davening together can avert an evil decree at any time, but an individual can only succeed when Hashem can be found. And when is that? Between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.

As we mentioned last year, on Rosh Hashana we recall how Sarah, Rachel and Chana were remembered with children. In fact, the Keriya for the first day is the story of Sarah's miraculous pregnancy/childbearing, and the Haftara is the story of Chana praying at the Mishkan in Shilo and being answered. The gemara says that the nine blessings in the Mussaf Shemoneh Esrei on Rosh HaShana is based on Chana's prayer. R' Baruch Gigi posits that this distinction is given her because she prayed not only for her own salvation, but that of the nation as a whole.

I saw a very touching story on Aish the other day by a woman who felt that her sincere prayers were answered on Rosh HaShana.

May we all merit to have our prayers answered in this special time and to come closer to Hashem through our Tefillos.

Posted by joem on Sep 12, 2007 12:00 am

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