Vaeschanan 5779 – The power of Prayers

The Parasha starts by telling us that Moshe prayed to Hashem in order to have the right to enter Eretz Yisrael. The verb used “Vaeschanan” is not commonly used. Actually, it’s only used here in that instance. We need to understand the reason the Thora departed from its usual language, also why this franticness from Moshe only regarding entering Eretz Yisrael?

Chazal tell us that the Thorah coded a message in that word. Moshe begged Hashem the numerical value of that verb in prayers. He prayed 515 times to Hashem to allow him to enter Eretz Yisrael. He knew that would he entered Eretz Yisrael no enemy would be able to dislodge us from there. In his last hours of life “The Faithful Shepperd” is concerned about the future of Am Yisrael. He was trying to protect the future generations from being exiled and Jerusalem to fall in the hands of idolaters.

The question is: Hashem had promised [by Neder] that Moshe will not enter Eretz Yisrael, so why did Moshe waste his precious last hours to pray for that. Had Balaam not said “God is not man to be capricious, or mortal to change His mind. Would He speak and not act, Promise and not fulfill?”, so why did Moshe decided anyway to pray about it?

In Bamidmar 35:15 it is stated: When someone takes a life unintentionally but with some degree of carelessness, the perpetrator is exiled to a city of refuge. He remains there until the death of the Kohen Gadol, the High Priest. Once the Kohen Gadol dies, he is permitted to leave.

The Mishnah [Kiddushin 29b] states that the mother of each Kohen Gadol used to bring food to the murderers confined in the cities of refuge, in the hope of preventing them from praying for her son’s speedy death. The question is: why would Hashem listen to the prayers of a murderer and kill the Kohen Gadol – one of the finest Tsadikim and leaders of the generation?!

The power of prayer is not necessarily dependent on who you are, but rather on your appreciation of who Hashem is and your realization of Divine Providence. There is no one who has greater clarity in this than the man who killed unintentionally. He walks into the forest planning to chop wood and not intending to hurt anyone. He swings his axe. The axe head flies off the handle and kills an innocent bystander. He sees clearly how Hashem has life and death completely in His hands. When he prays with such clarity in the knowledge that Hashem is in control of everything, his prayer carries such an enormous weight that even the Kohen Gadol could die!

The Maharsha writes that when a person prays sincerely, any benefit derived from prayer, no matter how extraordinary it appears, can be considered natural, since prayer has been an innate part of existence since the time of creation. When one prays with absolute clarity that everything is in Hashem ‘s hands, anything can happen!

Moshe applied that rule. It’s true Hashem promised he could not enter Eretz Yisrael. It’s also true that Hashem does not change His mind. But the power of Prayer supersedes it all and can “force” Hashem to change His decree.

In fact, the Zohar teaches us that when Moshe started praying, Hashem sent Angels to each one of the “Heavenly Gates” with the order to keep it shut. Hashem requested that they shouldn’t listen to Moshe praying, as they would be swayed by his prayers and open the gates.

Despite knowing that, Moshe started praying. He knew the heavenly rule, only 515 prayers can be rejected but the 516th MUST be accepted! Therefore, after the 515th, Hashem told him if you pray one more time, I’ll have to destroy the world. With your prayers you’re changing the course of the world history I intended. Only then, Moshe refrained from praying further.

The first word of this Parasha is teaching us the tremendous power of prayers. Despite who the person is, despite the Heavenly decrees, a person can change his fate and the fate of his relatives with a truthful and meaningful prayer.

By Rabbi Shimon Fridmann – Din Torah Of North Miami Beach

305.399.0393 * [email protected]

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