The Power of Tefila by Willie Roth


Tefila, prayer is a privilege given to us by Hashem as a way to ask Him for certain things.  Throughout the Torah, Moshe davens to Hashem, and this week’s Parsha provides one of the most celebrated examples of this.  Bnai Yisrael had just committed the Chet Haegel, and Hashem wanted to destroy them and create a nation from Moshe.  Even though the decision of Hashem looked final, Moshe prayed to Hashem Which caused him to “change his mind,” thus saving Bnai Yisrael.  One of the reasons that Moshe presented to Hashem why He should listen to him was that the idea of the Mitzrim might think that when they see Hashem taking Bnai Yisrael out of Mitzraim to kill them in the Midbar, they would think negatively of Hashem:  This prayer is a classic example of Moshe saving Bnai Yisrael, and a case where Hashem listened to Moshe’s prayer.

In Parshat Vaetchanan, Moshe davens to Hashem to allow him to enter Bnai Yisrael even though it was already decided that because of his sin at May Meriva, Moshe would not go in.  Despite this fact, Moshe davened one more time to go into Eretz Yisrael.  However, Moshe did not give any reason.  As Rashi says, he was asking for a “Matnat Chinam,” a free gift.  According to Rashi in Devarim, Moshe went to Hashem and tried to change Hashem’s decision and allow him to go into Eretz Yisrael based on the fact that Moshe davened to Hashem by the Chet Haegel.  However, in this case, Hashem did not answer in the affirmative but rather said no.

We refer to Hashem as the Shomea Tefila (listener of the Tefilot) but not as the Mekabel Tefila (receiver of the Tefilot).  Accordingly, sometimes Hashem will answer yes and sometimes He will answer no.  The way of Hashem in regard to Tefilot is inscrutable; we don’t know how His process works.  In terms of the actual Tefilot, one could say that the difference of the structure in the two cases might have led to the different outcomes.  In one case Moshe used reasons for his Tefila, which was answered, and in one case he didn’t, and his Tefila was not answered.  However, that might not be relevant because when Moshe davened to Hashem for his sister, Miriam, (in Parshat Behaalotcha) after she had gotten Tzaraat, Moshe did not use any reasons as to why she should be cured, but in some way Hashem listened to Moshe’s prayers.

Even though our Tefilot are not always answered the way we would like them to be, they are listened to.  Since we refer to Hashem as the Shomea Tefila and not as the Mikabel Tefila, we say that Hashem listens to our Tefilot just sometimes the answer is no.  However, this should not discourage us to daven because sometimes our Tefilot we can be answered with a yes.

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