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Thought for the Day: Prayer -- Silent and Crying Out

One of the most puzzling rebukes that HaShem gives to Moshe Rabeinu is "Ma titzak elai?"/Why are you calling out to Me?  Just to refresh your memory, the context is that Moshe Rabeinu has just lead Klal Yisrael out of Mitzrayim.  They are a week out and have been wandering toward the Yam Suf.  The Mitzriim have decided they regret sending Klal Yisrael away and are in hot pursuit.  So there we have Klal Yisrael, terrified and confused, the Yam Suf in front of them, the elite of the Egyptian army behind them, wild animals on both sides; they are boxed in and the box is closing in on them.  Moshe Rabeinu does his best to reassure the nation: "Don't be afraid!  Now you'll see HaShem fight for you!"  Then Moshe Rabeinu turns toward HaShem, who responds, "Ma titzak elai?" (Shmos 14:15)

Frankly,  that seems like a pretty darn good time to cry out to HaShem.  Moreover, when Miriam is struck with tza'ra'as, Moshe offers an impassioned, short t'fila: "v'yitzak moshe el HaShem leimor: k-eil na, r'fa na la"/Moshe cried out to HaShem, saying, G-d, please heal her now. (BaMidbar 12:13)  In that case, HaShem responds to Moshe with compassion and explains why the healing will take some time, but his prayer is being answered.

The Mabit says there are two kinds of prayer: daily prayer and prayer in time of distress.  The laws of daily prayer we learn from Chana, whose lips were moving but her words were only barely vocalized.  In course of daily living, HaShem expects to hear from us.  He wants us to know that all depends on Him and Him alone.  We express that enumerating all our issues and difficulties, asking HaShem to help, as noted in the purpose of praise in prayer.  That kind of prayer is offered silently.  To raise one's voice is to show one's self to be a little faith, worried that HaShem can't hear you.  That sort of behavior engenders disdain, as Eliyahu did to the false prophets of ba'al.

There is another kind of prayer, however.  That is when one is in time of distress.  In that case, the raising of one's voice is an expression of the deep passion one is feeling.  Moshe Rabeinu's sister was deathly ill... of course that was a time for crying out!  What about at the Yam Suf?  HaShem had already told Moshe Rabeinu what to expect.  Moshe Rabeinu had already reassured the nation.  Moshe had told the nation that HaShem would fight for them.  The avoda required by Moshe Rabeinu at that moment was specifically not to call out, but to pray quietly.  Thus demonstrating to the nation just how close HaShem was and always is.


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