“U’bikashtem mi’sham es Hashem Elokecha u’matzasa ki tidrishenu b’chol levavcha u’bchol nafshecha.” (4:19)
Why does the pasuk switch terms from the plural, “u’bikashtem,” to the singular, “u’matzasa?”
The gemara (R"H 18) notes the seeming contradiction between the pasuk, “Dirshu Hashem b’himatzo,” that there is a specific time when Hashem is available, so to speak, and only during that time are we free to petition for our needs, and the pasuk that teaches that Hashem responds, “B’chol koreinu alav,” whenever we daven. The gemara answers, “Kan b’yachid, kan b’tzibur.” There is a difference between personal prayer, which is accepted only at appointed times, and the prayer of the community, which is accepted at all times.
R’ Shlomo Kluger notes that there are two possible ways to understand the gemara’s conclusion. Does the gemara mean that communal prayer, i.e. prayer for the needs of the community, is always accepted, or does the gemara mean that individual prayer recited with a tzibur, in the context of the community’s prayers, is always accepted?
He opines that the latter interpretation is correct. The gemara does not refer to “tefilah l’tzibur,” prayer for the community, bur rather, “tefilah b’tzibur,” prayer recited in the context of a tzibur, even if it be for a private need.
“U’bikashtem m’sham,” if a community we join together to daven and serve Hashem, then in that context, “u’matzasa,” our individual prayers will be answered as well.