Devarim 5777

We, together, are in Galus. And although we are lucky in our day and age that our experience with anti-Semitism is usually words published online and written on signs in protest of Israel it was not too long ago that orthodox Jews in America had to start a new job every Monday because they refused to work on Shabbos. It was not too long ago that Jews, observant or not, were murdered, beaten and worked to death in Europe during and before the Holacaust. And it was not too long ago that our ancestors suffered through the destruction of our Holiest places, the dwelling place of God in our world, our two Beis Hamikdashos. The Galus our nation has languished in has gone on for over 1,900 years, yet the suffering and pain of our Galus has become distanced from our mentality. Perhaps over the long years we have become insensitive, or perhaps over the long years our cries and pleas for the Geulah have begun to make their mark in Heaven. Our prayers are our perspective on this world, how we see our state of affairs. Up above, to Hashem, His plans are clear, but to us down here there seems to be no way to avoid whatever negativity the world is throwing onto the Jewish people.

Rav Elimelech of Lizhensk heard about a particularly destructive decree that was facing the Jewish people. He prayed, he cried, but up above the decree was untouched. Rav Elimelech decided to call for a public fast day, yet even with that, the decree was still in place. He could not understand why the decree was not being changed, and even more so why the Great Tzaddikim who have already passed on are not causing an uproar in Heaven to overturn this harsh decree. That night his Rebbe, the great Maggid of Mezeritch – Rav Dov Ber – appeared to him in a dream. Rav Elimelech asked him, “My holy master, how can you be silent at a moment like this, where there is such a terrible decree upon the Jews?” The Maggid answered, “It is only from your perspective, down below, that this decree looks so bad. But here in Heaven we see that in the end everything is ultimately for the good. In this world of truth, nothing is hidden from us.” “But rebbe,” Rav Elimelech cried out, “What are we supposed to do? Our lives are difficult, we suffer so much. Do you mean that we should not pray, that we should stop asking God to ease our suffering and help us?” “Never!”, the Maggid returned, “God forbid. You should never stop praying, for as long as you are on this world there is no other option. You should act in the way you understand the world. If you see that something is wrong, if you feel pain, you must pray! Every harsh decree has a hidden purpose to it, perhaps through your prayers, Hashem will bring the same great outcome through different means.”

Prayer is Hashem giving us an opportunity to explain how we are perceiving His actions on our lives, in our world. From above one can see all the workings of this world and understand why something that appears negative needs to occur. Everything in this world has the essence of God in it, from a table to a car there is Godliness in everything. Therefore when our table wobbles or when our car is having some issues we might feel like making a small prayer that the situation be remedied. That we get a new table or our car stops making that noise. When things don’t make sense our first refuge should be prayer. Moshe said “May Hashem the God of your forefathers multiply your number 1,000 times…”(1:11) Rashi tells us that when the nation heard Moshes words they protested. For, Gods original blessing had no limit, it was that Avrahams descendants would be too numerous to number. And while 1,000 times is still a lot, it is still limited. Rashi continues to explain that this blessing was from Moshe, his own personal blessing to the Jewish nation. Gods unlimited blessing still stood, unlimited. So why did Moshe not clarify that in order to not confuse Klal Yisrael? For Moshe wanted the Jewish people to pray, for the blessing that God promised was destined to be fulfilled after Mashiachs arrival (Binyan Ariel on 1:11). Moshe wanted them to pray that these blessings be fulfilled sooner, teaching us that the confusing or painful moments we experience are not for naught, they are a catalyst for our prayers, for our passion in Avodas Hashem. It was not too long ago that we were exiled from our home, and now through our devotion and prayers it will not be too long before we again are rejoicing in The Beis Hamikdash with a clear vision of what is Above and what is below.

Leave a reply