Va’Etchanan – A model of prayer

This parasha begins with Moshe recalling that he prayed to G-d to let him cross the Jordan and see the good land that is on the other side. R’ Eli Munk quoted from the Zohar which teaches that this prayer is a model for our daily prayers.


Va’etchanan means that Moshe “implored” of G-d, and R’ SR Hirsch commented that the next word “el” implies that it was a reflexive action in which the supplicant purifies his heart so as to be worthy of the granting of his request. His interpretation was that G-d had privileged him to serve G-d, and made an instrument of His Will on earth.


Moshe prefaced his request by outlining his knowledge of G-d’s greatness and mighty hand, and that there is no greater power than G-d. He also used the names of G-d with”Elokim” meaning “love” revealing itself as “justice”. “Adonay” signifies that a person accepts and surrenders himself to G-d’s Will, With the two names together, Moshe declared at the outset that he would acknowledge the justness of G-d’s judgement even if G-d saw fit to deny him his last request. Rashi explained this combination name for G-d as “the One who is merciful in justice”.


R’ Eli Munk quoted from Megaleh Amukot who analysed a complex array of thoughts behind this prayer.He put forward 252 Kabbalistic explanations of Moshe’s thinking and R’ Munk chose to mention a few. For example, when Moshe asked to cross and to see, what did he want to see? He answered that he wanted to see the war against Amalek and to see how the name of G-d would appear in its perfect state. Moshe wanted to be eligible for the treasures reserved for the children of G-d, which could only occur if he lived in Israel. G-d replied that “it is too much for you” meaning that it is enough that you set up the Mishkan, during which you were shown all the secrets of the Law as if you had been a child.


Another example is that Moshe foresaw the great future arguments between the sages and wished to enter the land and assure that such future divisions would not occur. G-d replied that Moshe had himself contributed to strife within Israel at the incident at the waters of Meribah, and he could therefore not resolve future strife in Israel. In a further example, Moshe wanted to reverse the association between the Written Law being associated with the attribute of justice and the Oral Law being associated with the attribute of mercy. G-d said he was asking too much.


As a model of prayer, this episode  conveyed the persistence in prayer and the thinking that should Moshe be able to get to the land, there would be opportunities to fulfil additional mitzvoth.


The desire people have currently to live in Israel might also have complex thinking behind it and complex reasons why Aliya has not yet been achieved.

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