Yeshiva.org.il - The Torah World Gateway
שנה טובה באתר ישיבה!
Beit Midrash Torah Portion and Tanach Va'etchanan

Vaetchanan

829
Click to dedicate this lesson
We all believe in the power of prayer. There have been controversial but yet seemingly proven studies that have shown that somehow prayer and being prayed for are of definite physical help to the sick, the bereaved and the troubled. Yet prayer oftentimes leaves us unfulfilled and unanswered. Prayer does not seemingly avert disasters, sadness and even tragedies. Therefore all of us face the challenge of unanswered prayer, when our hopes and requests are apparently ignored and refused by Heaven. Many times this fact of life causes a crisis of faith and belief within a person. King David in his Psalms reflects this issue many times. The book of Iyov deals with it as well. And to a certain extent it is the main issue raised in this week’s parsha. Moshe’s prayers are not answered. In fact the Lord instructs him to stop raising the issue of his entry into the Land of Israel with Heaven any longer. There is a finality to Heaven’s refusal to answer or even deal with Moshe’s prayers any longer. Moshe’s prayers, which have saved his people, his brother and sister and others from Heavenly wrath, are now of no effect regarding his own personal request. The rabbis of the Talmud phrased it succinctly: "The prisoner himself cannot free himself, by himself, from his own confinement." Moshe will not lead his beloved people into the promised Land of Israel. His time is ended and his prayer will forever remain unanswered. There is therefore a note of inevitable sadness that hovers over this parsha.

Over the millennia of Jewish commentary and exposition of the Torah many reasons have been advanced as to why Moshe’s prayer was so finally and flatly rebuffed. Among the ideas advanced is that the time for Yehoshua’s leadership had arrived and that "the dominion of one ruler cannot overlap the dominion of his successor even by a hair’s breadth." Another thought advanced is that Moshe’s generation would not enter the Land of Israel so it would be an apparent unseemly favoritism for Moshe alone to be able to do so. A third idea is that Moshe would appear to the new generation entering the Land of Israel as a supernatural figure, a type of god in a world of pagan belief that regularly deified humans, especially national leaders. Therefore for the sake of Israel itself, he could not be allowed to lead them into the Land of Israel. As valid as all of these ideas are, the blunt truth is that we cannot read God’s mind, so to speak. Living human beings, the finite, can never grasp the Infinite One. So we must be satisfied to remain unsatisfied in our search for the reasons for unanswered prayers. So therefore our true refuge lies in faith and acceptance of the unknowable. This in no way weakens the resolve and necessity to continue praying. It merely lowers our levels of expectation and tempers our hubris that somehow Heaven must follow our wishes and dictates. Moshe accepts the fact that his prayers will now go unanswered. His example serves as a lesson for all of us.
Rabbi Dov Berl Wein
The rabbi of the "HANASI" congregation in Yerushalim, head of the Destiny foundation, former head of the OU, Rosh Yeshiva of 'sharai Tora" and rabbi of the "Beit Tora" congregation, Monsey, New York.
More on the topic of Va'etchanan

It is not possible to send messages to the Rabbis through replies system.Click here to send your question to rabbi.

את המידע הדפסתי באמצעות אתר yeshiva.org.il