Perashat Vaethanan 5777
Perashat Vaethanan 5777Friday, August 04, 2017
In the beginning of this week's Perasha, Moshe Rabenu recounts to Benei Yisrael how he pleaded in prayer to Hashem to allow him to enter the Land of Israel. Our sages tell us that he prayed 515 prayers as is the numerical value of the word Vaethanan.
Why would Moshe Rabenu reveal to 'Am Yisrael that no matter how much he pleaded, Hashem continuously refused his requests? As a faithful servant of G-d, Moshe should have concealed from the nation his constant pleas, since Hashem refused his request. This way they would not have doubts in their faith because of Hashem's exacting judgment. Further, upon hearing that even their holy leader had the gates of prayer locked before him, the nation might be discouraged from ever turning to God in prayer.
Despite the risk, Moshe elaborates to the nation, in full detail, the 515 times he beseeched Hashem and Hashem's continuous refusal to accept his prayer. Moshe must have recognized that the advantage outweighed the risk, and that the lessons learned from the message would far exceed any adverse reaction that could have resulted from revealing the story.
Through this episode, Moshe is teaching the Jewish people an important lesson about prayer. We can all understand the sometimes misguided idea that one prays to Hashem only when he desires something specific, whether it be to increase parnassah, improve one's health, find a spouse, etc. However, Moshe is showing us that the act of prayer itself has an intrinsic value, even if we do not obtain anything through it. The act of prayer offers us the tremendous value of speaking and connecting to our Creator.
Moshe is teaching us that when we pray, we shouldn't expect Hashem to fulfill whatever it is we are asking for, but rather we should pray because it is important for us to speak to Him and to have an intimate connection with the creator who understands the depths of the heart.
Moshe Rabenu knows he would not be allowed to enter the Land of Israel, yet he still pleads with Hashem and pours out his heart saying how pained he is that he would not be able to enter the land which he loves so much. Hashem asks for Moshe's understanding as well, and we might almost say he even shared his pain. Since Hashem replies saying "Aleh rosh hapisga" - Go to the top of the hill... and see with your eyes. The Midrash says that this was Hashem telling Moshe if you climb all the way up to the hilltop then you will see with your own eyes how it pains me too that you will not cross the Jordan. Moshe Rabenu allows us to take a glimpse into his personal conversation so that we would also understand the purpose of prayer which is to connect with Hashem. One of the best ways of connecting is by sharing what we are going through as we see from Moshe.
May we all merit that all our wishes be fulfilled, and moreover, may we feel the need to continue to pray and connect to the source of all the good in the world. May it be His will that all our prayers should be a conversation of the heart.
May 31 2020
Sivan 8 5780