Friday, November 19, 2010
VaYishlach 5633 Second Ma'amar
The beginning of this week's parsha relates Ya'akov's preparations for his first encounter with Eisav in twenty-two years. One of the ways Ya'akov prepares is by praying to God, begging Him to save him and his family.
Why should God do this? Ya'akov says, "ואתה אמרת היטב איטיב עמך ושמתי את זרעך כחול הים אשר לא יספר מרב/And you said, 'I will certainly do good for you; I will make your offspring like the sand of the sea, that cannot be counted because of its great number." Ya'akov does not present God with logical arguments as to why he should be saved. Rather, he appeals to God's will as God Himself revealed it to him. This, after all, is the true good.
From Ya'akov we learn a fundamental lesson in the proper approach to prayer. Whenever we pray to God for something we believe we need we should take Ya'akov's example. Instead of presenting God with logical arguments to justify our supplication, we should align our request with God's will and ask that God fulfill His own will.
We find this approach in the wording of many of our prayers. For example, in the prayer for livelihood that is printed in most prayer books in the blessing of shomei'a tefilla, we ask for livelihood in order to be able to, "... do Your will, to occupy myself with Your Torah and to fulfill Your mitzvos ..." Clearly the purpose of this wording is to align the request for livelihood with a fulfillment of God's will. There are many other examples as well.