Parashat VaEt'hanan-Tefillah Time
4. Hear, O Israel: HaShem is our G-d; HaShem is one.
ד. שְׁמַע יִשְׂרָאֵל ה' אֱלֹהֵינוּ ה' אֶחָד:
There is a halakhah not to directly request HaShem for a Refuah for someone in Tefillah on Shabbat Kodesh (unless of course, it is very serious in which a halakhic authority should be consulted). Until recently, I never really understood why this is, and I would sometimes sneak in a little (okay, big) personal Tefillah during the Amidah. It felt wrong not to be able to daven fully. I thought to myself, Shabbat Kodesh is the most spiritual day of the week! If anything, wouldn't this be the best day to daven for something? Barukh HaShem, I finally learned the reason why this is.
I was reading HaRav Shimshon Dovid Pincus's sefer, Nefesh Shmishon, and he explains that Shabbat Kodesh is the day that we should be building our relationship with HaKadosh Barukh Hu in the most intimate way. To do this, we need as little distractions as possible. Just like we don't do creative work on Shabbat, because this would both distract and detract from our relationship with HaShem, intensively asking for things can 'get in the way' so to speak. Shabbat itself is so Kadosh that it already brings the Berakhot we want to ask for; additional Tefillot wouldn't even be necessary on this day. All we have to do on Shabbat is to build a relationship with HaKadosh Barukh Hu and serve as witnesses that He created the world and gave us Shabbat Kodesh. By keeping Shabbat, we are saying, HaShem, I agree that You created the world in six days, and made the seventh day one of rest, called 'Shabbat', and this is why I am 'resting today'. We have the other six fays to daven intensely.
Even on the other six days though, sometimes we can feel that our Tefillot seem to go unanswered. In this week's Parashah, Moshe Rabbenu davens over and over again, 515 times, to be permitted to enter Eress Yisrael. The gematriya (numerical value) of VaEt'hanan, 'And I pleaded', is 515. After all this davening, HaShem still didn't want Moshe Rabbenu to enter. And so, Moshe Rabbenu accepts his predicament. The truth is, there is no such thing as an unanswered Tefillah. Every Tefillah is answered. To each Tefillah the answer could be:
Yes, my dear child.
Yes, my child, but not right now. I'm going to save this Tefillah for a time you will need it more.
No. – 'No' is also an answer.
You're going to have to trust that HaShem knows best for you. He will apply your Tefillah at the most appropriate time. Your Tefillah will always be answered, you just might not always be able to detect the results.
Regardless of what the answer to our Tefillah will be, we must understand that whether it's a 'Yes' or a 'No', it all comes from ONE source. HaShem decides yes and HaShem decides no. It's not that all the 'Yes's' come from a good place, HaShem, and all the 'No's' come from a bad place. Both 'Yes' and 'No' come from a source of good, from HaShem.
This is also why, in addition to the concept of Shabbat and the concept of Tefillah, Parashat VaEt'hanan hosts perhaps the most fundamental pasouk to Benei Yisrael's credence. Shema Yisrael.
Shema Yisrael HaShem Elokeinu HaShem EHAD-'Hear Yisrael, HaShem is our GD, HaShem is ONE'
You hear that? Hakadosh Barukh Hu is ONE.
We must firmly believe, understand, and internalize that everything comes from One Source. Everything, good or seemingly 'bad' comes from one place- from HaShem. If it's coming from HaShem Yitbarakh, that means it's always good. Our minds are just limited, so sometimes we can't grasp this idea or see it in our lives moment to moment. The best we could do though is to serve as HaShem's witness and testify, HaShem is ONE! What is happening in my life can only be GOOD! What is happening in your life is good TOO! I can promise you, I'm a witness!
And guess what? The two letters in the pasouk of Shema that are written enlarged in the Torah are the Ayin of 'Shema' and Daled of 'Ehad'. What does this spell? 'Ed' which means 'witness'.
A witness has to firmly believe what they are testifying, they cannot falter. They must be ready to swear on their word. A witness must be objective and only speak truth. There is one truth. The truth is HaShem is ONE. Go prove it to everyone. It's your responsibility.
Knowing this, we should never give up on Tefillah, since we know our prayers will ALWAYS be answered. We should mamash be davening/praying every second of the day, every chance we get. We can learn this from the Shema as well. The 'Shin' in Shema stands for Shaharit, the 'Mem' stands for Minha, the 'Ayin' stands for Arvit—the three times a day that we daven. We should be praying be'shivtekha be've'tekha—as you sit in your house, u've'lekhtekha va'derekh—as you walk on your way, u've'shakhbekha—as you lay down, u've'kumekha—as you get up. These are the words of our beloved Shema. Listen to them.
Shema also stands for 'Se'u Marom Eynekhem'- 'Lift your Eyes Upwards (Towards Shamayim)'. Nothing should ever stop us from davening. Just look up to Shmayim, open your heart and pour out your most genuine Tefillah. This is what I call TeFEELah. There is no way it won't be answered.
Be'Ezrat HaShem, may all our Tefillot be answered le'Tova u'le'Berakhah! May we develop the patience and understanding that just because our Tefillot may not be answered immediately, it does not mean that they are not heard. May we internalize that no matter what HaShem decides for us, it is from ONE source, a GOOD source. Remember this the next time you say the Shema.
Wishing everyONE a Shabbat Shalom uMevorakh!
Make Your Neshamah Fly!