Friday, August 08, 2014

praying to be able to pray

Chasam Sofer (in his Derashos) quotes a Yalkut that learns from Moshe’s tefilah, “Va’eschanan el Hashem.. leimor” that a person has to daven when there is an eis tzarah.  Why does the Yalkut wait until now to come up with this chiddush?  Moshe’s tefilah after the cheit ha’eigel, his tefilah after the sin of the meraglim, his davening for Miriam did not already prove the same point? 

Why does the pasuk include the word “…leimor” when the word “va’eschanan” itself tells us that Moshe davened?  Chazal learn from Moshe’s tefilah that a person needs to include divrei shevach before his bakasha.  When a person is feeling down and broken and in desperate straits, it’s hard to sing out the praises of Hashem.  Moshe's tefilah here, according to the Chasam Sofer, was the most desperate request of his life; his greatest torment was at this moment when he stood on the boundaries of Eretz Yisrael filled with such desire to enter the land, only to be denied the privilege of doing so.  C.S. quotes from the Hafa’ah that “…leimor” means that Moshe asked Hashem for the ability at this moment of deep personal suffering to find the words for shevach to Hashem.  This was Moshe Rabeinu’s “Hashem sifasay tiftach” – a prayer for the ability to pray.

We know from many parshiyos that a person should daven when there is an eis tzarah.  What Moshe taught us here is that a person has so sing Hashem’s praises in an eis tzarah as well.

The Shem m’Shmuel quotes a Midrash Rabbah that speaks of the greatness of Hashem responding to a person’s request before they even articulate it in tefilah – “terem nikra’u v’ani e’eneh.”  Is that really such a good thing, asks the Sm”S?  Don’t we say that Hashem made the imahos barren because he desired to hear their tefilos?  The gemara in Ta’anis speaks about Hashem responding to a fast for rain before anyone has a chance to daven as not being such a good thing because it shows Hashem doesn’t want to hear the tefilah. 

I thought this Chasam Sofer could help explain the Midrash as well.  Of course Hashem wants to hear our tefilos. However, every tefilah consists of two parts – the shevach to Hashem, and our list of bakashos.  What the Midrash is saying is that Hashem promises  that we don’t need to spell out our bakashos and beg for him to respond.  Once we come close to Hashem through the tefilah of shevach, he will give us what we want without our even having to ask for it.

These past few weeks we’ve been talking about the importance of Eretz Yisrael.  The gemara (Sotah 14) asks why Moshe wanted so much to enter the land – did he want to eat the fruit there?!  Of course not, says the gemara.  He wanted to do the mitzvos.  The Tur (O.C. 208), based on this gemara, objects to our saying in our bracha me’ein shalosh the words, “she’hinchalta l’avoseinu le’echol mipirya v’lisbo’a mituvah.”  The Bach, however, disagrees.  The fruits of Eretz Yisrael have a special bracha and special kedusha to them.  When the gemara says Moshe did not want to just enter the land to eat the fruit, the gemara simply meant that the physical pleasure of eating was not what Moshe was after.  Eating the fruit of Eretz Yisrael to partake of the kedushas ha’aretz, however, is something we can all yearn for.

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