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Shabbat Parashat R'ei 5782

Parashat Hashavua: On Tefilla part III

Harav Yosef Carmel

We will continue to delve into the matter of tefilla as it is practiced within a community of believers in Hashem. In that framework, let us ask: To what extent are we supposed to pray for our needs and to what extent are we to make practical efforts toward them? Also, where does belief in Hashem's providence fit in?

Our parasha tells of a place that Hashem chose at which Bnei Yisrael shall serve Him. After that place was identified, it disqualified other places from sacrificial activities (Devarim 12:5). The place was located at the time of King David, who dedicated his life to it, despite the difficulties. David described his focus on the project of preparing the location for the Beit Hamikdash in Tehillim 132:1-5.

Let us return to see how much to rely on prayers, with the help of the painful story of David and his rebellious son, Avshalom. As David was leaving Yerushalayim to avoid being caught by his son, he met two kohanim gedolim, Tzadok and Evyatar, who wanted to bring to the fleeing camp the greatest “war hero,” the aron hakodesh (Shmuel II, 15:24). In refusing to have the aron come with him into exile, David left us with one of the greatest statements of belief in Hashem that our nation has known: “Return the ark of Hashem to the city. If I will find favor in the eyes of Hashem, He shall return me and show me it and His place. And if Hashem will say ‘I do not want you,’ here I am; He shall do to me that which is good in His eyes” (ibid. 25-26). David was so dedicated to the national centrality of Yerushalayim, that he demanded that the city remain intact, with the aron in its midst even in the time of his flight. David accepted upon himself that if he turned out to be wrong in his lifework, then he accepted Hashem’s judgment.

Shortly thereafter, David had to stand up to another test of belief. David was told that his top advisor, Achitofel, about whom it was said that asking him was like asking Hashem, had joined Avshalom’s forces (ibid. 31). David responded with a short prayer, reminiscent of Moshe’s short prayer for Miriam. David said: “Bring failure to the counsel of Achitofel, Hashem” (ibid.). So David had moved from the stage of belief to the stage of short prayer, and this was very effective. Immediately, Chushai Ha’arki approached him, and it was he who undid Achitofel’s plan with a huge measure of Divine Assistance. This enabled David to emerge victorious and return to Yerushalayim to continue his work of preparing the city for the Temple that his son would build.

After David’s prayer, he proceeded to take practical steps to remedy the problem and left agents in Yerushalayim, who informed him of the steps Avshalom was taking. It is noteworthy that at the end, it turned out that this step did not prove necessary. We learn from this episode in David’s life, the approach to dealing with troubles: belief, then prayer (including short prayer), then practical action. One who has earned special levels of Divine Assistance needs much less practical action. This is in accordance with Chazal’s words: “One who accepts the yoke of Torah will have the yoke of normal actions removed from him” (Bamidbar Rabba, Chukat 19:26).

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Nir Rephael ben Rachel Bracha
Yisrael ben Rivka

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Those who fell in wars

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Iyar 10, 5771

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Tishrei 9
,5776 / Tishrei 20, 5782


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Sivan 17 / Av 20


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Tishrei 20 ,5781


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Rav Carmel's father

Iyar 8 ,5776


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bat RMoshe Zev a”h.

Tamuz 10 ,5774


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Kislev 9 / Elul 5780

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Tevet 16 ,5780


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Sebbag, z"l


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Cheshvan 13, 5778


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Tamuz 23, 5777


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Iyar 18 ,5779


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Av 4


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Tammuz 19, 5778


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Adar 28, 5781


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Av 30, 5781


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Adar II 17, 5782


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Adar II 18, 5782


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Nisan 27, 5782

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ben Yehuda Leib Usdan
Av 29


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