From HaGaon Rav Zevadia HaCohen Shlit”a, The Head of the Batei Din in Tel Aviv
(translated by our dear friend Rav Daniel Levy Shlit”a, Leeds UK)
This Shabbat’s Parahsa is coined after Moshe’s repeated prayers to Hashem that He allow him to enter Eretz Yisrael. Moshe prayed and beseeched, “Please let me cross [the Jordan]. Let me see the good land across the Jordan, the good mountain and the Lebanon” (Devarim 3:25).
The Midrash Rabba (Devarim 11) explains that when it was decreed that Moshe not enter the Land, he perceived it as relatively easy to overcome, he said, is it not the case that if the Jewish People transgressed major sins and I was able to seek their forgiveness and immediately Hashem forgave them, then surely me, who hasn’t sinned since I was young, all the more so that my prayers will be accepted and annul the decree?
Immediately Hashem made an oath in His own great Name that Moshe shall not enter the Land.
At that moment, Moshe wore sackcloth and ash and stood in prayer and supplication before Hashem until the Heavens, Earth and the entire order of Creation trembled.
What did Hashem do? He announced in every gate of each of the heavens, and in every [heavenly] bet-din, that none of them accept Moshe’s prayers. That the prayers not ascend before Him, since the decree has been sealed before Him.
From here we may appreciate the efficacy of prayer that it has the potential to penetrate the heavens. And so [to prevent this] Hashem was required to make an oath in His own Name, announce in the seven heavens and the heavenly bet-din that they shall not accept Moshe’s prayers. Since if not for this, Moshe’s prayers would have been received. For this is the power of prayer, it is like a sword piercing the heavens and reaching the Divine Throne.
Come and see how far the power of prayer may reach. On Yom Kippur when the Cohen Gadol was in the Sanctuary he would pray, “…that the prayers of travellers, concerning rain alone, should not be effective before You at a time when the world needs it,” this is to say that a regular person going on his way, and then suddenly it is pouring with rain on him, he turns to the Creator of the World from a position of distress and prays from the depths of his heart, “stop the rain”. His prayer is supposed to be received, if not for the prayer of the Cohen Gadol on Yom Kippur in the Sanctuary, which came to neutralise the prayer of this regular person. This teaches us the efficacy of prayer, when it is sincere from the heart.
Rav Yitzchak Zilberstein (Tuv’cha Yabiu 2:286) relates in the name of the Chazon Ish z”l that no prayer is turned away empty, every word of supplication or appeasement that a Jew expresses achieves something. If not today then tomorrow. If not this year then next year, or even after many years. If not for the person praying then for his offspring. This belief must be engrained in every Jew’s psyche.
Some years ago their lived a Jew in Jerusalem who had become religious and became a scholar of repute. His relatives relate how G-d fearing he was and how successful he was in every aspect of his life. Everything he turned his hand to Hashem made it a success. Every factory he established becomes a world leader and every shiur he gave attracted large audiences. This man is known as Reb Baruch Heiman and he recently related the source of his success. As such it is worthy that these words be engrained in our hearts so that we may learn and contemplate the power of prayer.
When the State of Israel was established under the leadership of Ben Gurion the then Education Secretary was Zalman Aran (1899-1970), he was especially close with and admired the then Prime Minister Ben Gurion. Although not particularly religious, his wife was traditional in her observance, lighting Shabbat candles every week before Shabbat. When she lit candles she would pray that her children should be successful like…David Ben Gurion. Afterall, he was the epitome of whom to value and admire as was apparent from her husband, the Minister of Education, who would often wax lyrical about the strength and greatness of the man.
One day the Prime Minister met with the saintly Chazon Ish z”l regarding the conscription of yeshiva students to the army. When he returned he related to his good friend the Minister of Education how inspired he was from the Chazon Ish and that he saw in him a man of great stature and unique behaviour.
When the Minister of Education returned home, he told his wife about the Prime Minister’s meeting with the Rav and his unique inspiration from the Chazon Ish. His wife listened and deduced the following. If Ben Gurion is inspired by the Chazon Ish and views him as such a unique person, this means that the Chazon Ish is greater than him, so why should I pray for my children when I light Shabbat candles to be like Ben Gurion, I will pray directly that they should be like the Chazon Ish! She said this and acted accordingly and from that Shabbat onwards she prayed from the depths of her heart that her children should be like the Chazon Ish.
I, said Rav Heiman am the grandson of Zalman Aran, and the prayers of my grandmother – even though she wasn’t of the saintly 36 tzadikim in every generation – her prayers were effective even after many years, and this drew me close to Torah and Mitzvot and also gave me the ability to be successful.
From this story we deduce the power of heartfelt prayer of each and every person, as we say in our prayers “that You listen to all prayers”.
Shabbat Shalom and be blessed!