Parashot Vaetchanan

Torah Portion of the Week: VA’ETCHANAN

In Va’etchanan, we read of Moses’ powerful prayers to be allowed to enter into the land of Israel, and God’s refusal to accede to his request.

The rabbis, in Midrash Rabbah in Deuteronomy 1:1, speak of the extraordinary powers of Moses’ prayers to be allowed to enter the land of Israel. Say the rabbis: At that moment, what did Moses do? He dressed himself in sackcloth and sprinkled himself with ashes and stood in prayer, beseeching the Al-mighty God, until the heavens and earth and the orders of creation began to quake.

In response, the Al-mighty decreed that the gates to all the seven firmaments be sealed and that all courts of law refuse to accept Moses’ prayers, because the Divine decree was final.

The angels of heaven hastened to lock all the gates of the firmaments of heaven because Moses’ prayers had already risen so high they were like a sharp sword, and as powerful as uttering the Divine name, ripping through everything in its way.

At that moment, Moses’ prayers matched the description found in Ezekiel 3:12, “Then a wind lifted me up and I heard behind me the sound of a great noise, ‘Blessed is the L-rd’s glory from His abode,’” There can be no greater sound than that uttered by Moses.

As Psalm 34:19 states, קָרוֹב השׁם לְנִשְׁבְּרֵי לֵב , the Al-mighty is close to those who have a broken heart. G-d listens to their words and it is the poor person’s prayer that has the power to open the windows of the firmaments.

Despite the overwhelming power of Moses’ prayer, אִישׁ הָאֱ־לֹקִים the man of God, whose prayer was like the utterance of the Divine name, and was able to rip and slice like a sword, it is still unable to compare to the powerful prayer of the poor person with a broken heart.

Rabbi Pincus urges every person to appreciate the importance of the petitions of the poor, and to never ignore them.

In addition, he advises that the most effective method to achieve a good and happy life is that every person should always see themselves as standing before the Al-mighty like a person with a broken heart. These prayers have the power to open up the windows of heaven and bring out the Al-mighty’s abundant blessings of salvation and success.

Moses’ prayers were able to make the heavens tremble, but there is nothing more powerful than the prayers that emanate from a broken heart. For discussion, why do you think that Moses was to insist and so stubborn in quest to enter the promised land? Shabbat Shalom!