Praying for a Living – Parashat Beshalach

January 21, 2018 at 1:37 AM , , ,

“…And B’nei Yisrael cried out to G-d…” – Shemot 14:10

וַיִּצְעֲקוּ בְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל אֶל ה’ – יד, י

Seeing Pharaoh and his army rapidly approaching them, the Jews became frightened and cried out to G-d. Rashi comments that the Jews’ reaction was not unusual; rather, “they seized the craft of their ancestors.”

For Avraham, Yitzchak, and Yaakov, calling out to G-d was an obvious part of ordinary life; they prayed all the time, not only when a crisis warranted beseeching G-d’s mercies. Rashi therefore calls prayer our forefather’s craft. Prayer was so natural to them that it was as though it was their primary profession.

Praying for a Living

This explains why the Jews cried out in prayer, even though G-d promised that they would be brought to the Land of Israel, and they were well aware of G-d’s ability to deliver on His promises. They didn’t doubt that they would be saved from the Egyptian attack—their prayer was simply instinctive, a natural habit that they had acquired from their forefathers.

The lesson this teaches us is that our service of G-d through prayer, and likewise our Torah study and mitzvah observance, must not be limited to meeting a specific goal or requirement. Emulating our ancestors and “seizing their craft,” our engrossment in these activities must be constant and instinctive—simply because this is who we are and that is what we do. Likewise, with regard to our efforts to draw others closer to Torah observance, we must recognize that prayer, Torah study and mitzvah observance are the natural craft of every descendant of Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov. No matter how removed from Jewish practice our fellow Jew may seem, we must approach him with the conviction that Judaism is essentially his craft, his most natural way of life.

—Likkutei Sichos, vol. 11, pp. 52-54

 

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