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Beit Midrash Series Parashat Hashavua

Praise, Supplication, and Thanks

It is impossible to understand the beginning of our parasha without connecting it to the end of Parashat Devarim. There we find Moshe giving instructions to the tribes that decided to stay in the East Bank of the Jordan: “I commanded you at that time: ‘Hashem gave you this land to inherit it; you shall go forth as a vanguard before your brothers, Bnei Yisrael, all men of army age” (Devarim 3:18). It was actually Moshe’s words of criticism to these tribes that gave him the resolve to beg and pray before Hashem to let him enter the Land beyond the Jordan.
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It is impossible to understand the beginning of our parasha without connecting it to the end of Parashat Devarim. There we find Moshe giving instructions to the tribes that decided to stay in the East Bank of the Jordan: "I commanded you at that time: ‘Hashem gave you this land to inherit it; you shall go forth as a vanguard before your brothers, Bnei Yisrael, all men of army age" (Devarim 3:18). It was actually Moshe’s words of criticism to these tribes that gave him the resolve to beg and pray before Hashem to let him enter the Land beyond the Jordan.

Moshe’s supplication served as the basis for the Rabbis who composed the main tefillot for Klal Yisrael. Rav Simla’i said: One should always set out Hashem’s praises and then pray. How do we know this? We learn from Moshe, as the pasuk says: "I pleaded before Hashem" and then it says: "Hashem, you have begun to show Your servant Your greatness and Your strong hand, as there is no god in the heavens and earth who can do like Your actions and Your valor." Only afterward, it says: "Let me pass through and see the good Land" (Berachot 32a). After the supplication comes praise.

David Hamelech requested the privilege of building the Beit Hamikdash, but his request was rejected. The rejection was not due to criticism of his actions but because his family monarchy was not yet "built," until Shlomo sat on his throne. First, kingdom must come, and only afterward the Beit Hamikdash can be built. We find this order in Birkat Hamazon as well: "Hashem, have mercy on Your nation Israel and on Your city of Jerusalem, on Zion, the dwelling place of Your Presence, on the kingdom of the House of David Your anointed one, and on the great and holy house upon which Your Name is called." So while David was not allowed to build the House (i.e., the Beit Hamikdash = The House of G-d), Hashem promised him that he would succeed in building a house of monarchy, an eternal dynasty.

If one checks carefully, he will notice that no one, from the time of Moshe to the time of David, merited having his position inherited by his son. Moshe did not merit it, nor did Yehoshua. None of the shoftim had a son appointed after him, not even Eili or even Shmuel, who tried but did not succeed. The first king, Shaul, desired that his son Yonatan would inherit his throne, but he understood already during his lifetime that this would not happen.

Looking at the 7th chapter of Shmuel II, we will find that the first half of the chapter contains the prophecy preventing David from building the Beit Hamikdash. In the second half of the chapter, we see the elements of tefilla that we learn from Moshe Rabbeinu. There is praise (18-24), supplications (25-26) and thanks (27-29).

David, the singer of pleasant songs in and for Israel, was able to learn from Moshe Rabbeinu how to build the structure of the proper prayer. We try to be students of both of them. (I will explain the p’sukim more deeply in my upcoming sefer, Tzofnat Shmuel.)
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