Open Door Policy
They are among the most stirring words in the Torah. In vermilion verse,
Moses calls upon heaven and earth to bear witness to the poetic image he is
about to conjure of Hashem's awesome majesty and His special relationship
with the Jewish people. The Song of Moses, which we read in this week's
portion, is a stunning paean characterized by sharp rebuke but also glorious
Towards the beginning of his Song, Moses inserts an enigmatic cue for the
Jewish people. "As I call out the Name of Hashem, declare the greatness of
our Lord!" These are very puzzling lines. Since the entire Song is a
declaration of Hashem's greatness, what exactly was he asking the people to
contribute? Furthermore, why does Moses calling out Hashem's Name trigger
the Jewish declaration of Hashem's greatness?
Let us look for a moment into the first portion of the Torah, which we will
be reading in just a few weeks. After the serpent subverts Adam and Eve and
causes then to be expelled from the Garden of Eden, Hashem curses him, "And
you shall eat dust all the days of your life. "The commentators wonder: How
severe can this curse be if it assures the serpent of a plentiful supply of
food at all times? This exactly is the essence of the curse. the
commentators explain. Man, who must struggle for his sustenance, is always
calling out to the Creator for help and support, and as a result, man's very
needs provide him with the transcendent rewards of a relationship with Him.
The serpent, however, was given everything he would ever need and cast
aside, without any prospect of enjoying a spiritual relationship with Hashem.
This is what Moses was saying to the Jewish people. When they hear him call
out the Name of Hashem, when they realize how immensely privileged they are
in that they can always call out to Hashem, that they can raise themselves
up spiritually by connecting with Him, then they should declare Hashem's
greatness. For surely this precious gift, the opportunity for mortal man to
bond with the divine, is one of the greatest kindnesses that He has ever
bestowed upon his people.
A king was very displeased with the behavior of one of his sons. Despite
being warned many times, the young prince persisted in his profligate ways,
and presently, the king could no longer tolerate the situation. With a heavy
heart, he banished the prince to a distant province and decreed that he live
the rest of his life as a commoner, without any of the privileges of royalty.
On the day the prince was to leave the palace, the king came into his room
and handed him a tiny sealed box.
"Take this, my son," he said. Although you are banished from the palace,
this box may help you in times of most dire need." Years passed. The prince
managed to survive without the protective cocoon of privilege, but not with
exceedingly great difficulty. In the hardest of times, however, he knew in
the back of his mind that when all else failed he could break open the
sealed box and use the riches it contained.
One time, he was in such a desperate situation that he had no choice but to
open the box. He fully expected to find it filled with diamonds, but to his
surprise, it contained a piece of paper folded over many times.
With trembling hands, he unfolded the paper and read it. Then he burst into
tears. It was a letter from the king allowing the banished prince to enter
the palace and present any request directly to the king. This letter, the
prince realized, was a more precious gift than a boxful of the finest jewels.
While we are still basking in the afterglow of an inspired Yom Kippur
service our own lives, it is important for us to realize that the very act
of prayer is its own reward, and , that the relationship we form with Hashem
through intense spiritual communication is far more important than many of
the things for which we pray. Hopefully, during this season of hope and
prayer, Hashem will grant us all long life, health, prosperity and joy. But
it important to remember than even before all these blessings are delivered
to our doorsteps, we have already been immeasurably enriched through the
very act of prayer.
Wishing you a wonderful Shabbos.
Rabbi Naftali Reich
Text Copyright © 2012 by Rabbi Naftali Reich and Torah.org.
Rabbi Reich is on the faculty of the Ohr Somayach Tanenbaum Education Center.