This Shabbos coincides with the seventh day of Pesach, which was the time of the splitting of the Red Sea. That is why our Torah reading describes this monumental miracle. The Jewish nation had left Egypt a week earlier. Pharaoh had a change of heart and decided to capture the Jews and restore them to their former status as slaves. The Egyptian troops were coming closer to the Jews from behind; in front of them, all they could see was the sea. It seemed hopeless. What did the Nation of Israel do?
The Torah tells us that “Pharaoh drew near, and the children of Israel lifted their eyes, and behold! The Egyptians were coming after them. They were terrified, and they cried out to Hashem.” Rashi, explaining this verse, tells us why they cried to Hashem. “They grasped hold of their ancestor’s trade (meaning that they prayed).” Rashi then gives examples to demonstrate that each of our forefathers prayed.
We have discussed several times how precise Rashi is with his language. Why would he refer to prayer as a trade? One is regularly engaged in his career. On the other hand, prayer, which is a request for one’s needs, would seem to apply only when one has a need. This instance is a perfect example. The Jews felt that they were facing certain death, so of course, they prayed!
The explanation is that our perception of prayer is not correct. Prayer is not only a request for our needs. The Rambam writes that “the positive commandment to pray is to serve Hashem every day through praying.”
The Rambam’s description of prayer teaches us that Tefillah is much more than a way of receiving our needs. Instead, it is a way to serve G-d, thereby coming closer to Him.
This is why Rashi specifically uses the word “trade” to describe prayer. We must continuously pray because we have a constant need to draw ourselves closer to Hashem. It is not merely an act we do to obtain our requirements; it is one of the most important ways to connect to Hashem.
Prayer serves the purpose of reminding ourselves that only Hashem can supply our needs. One constant need that we all have is the coming of Moshiach and our redemption from this exile. We should all pray for this, and Hashem will undoubtedly answer our prayers.
I wish one and all a good Shabbos and a happy Pesach!
Rabbi Shmuel Mendelsohn
Adapted from Likkutei Sichos Volume 11, Page 52
DEDICATED IN HONOR OF THE LUBAVITCHER REBBE
מוקדש לזכות כ”ק אדמו”ר נשיא דורנו מליובאוויטש
IN HONOR OF
The Soldiers of Tzivos Hashem Chaim and Aiden Oded שיחיו Morris
DEDICATED BY THEIR PARENTS
Rabbi & Mrs. Menachem M. and Chaya Mushka שיחיו Morris
חיילי “צבאות השם” חיים ועדן עודד שיחיו מאריס
נדפס ע”י הוריהם
הרה”ת ר’ מנחם מענדל וזוגתו מרת חי’ מושקא שיחיו מאריס
DEDICATED BY MR. RAZIEL שיחי’ GATES
. Parshas Beshalach, Shemos 14:10.
. See the heading to the Rambam’s Laws of Prayer. It is. known that he wrote the headings himself.