Wednesday, August 13, 2014

420 - Shemini

Parshas Shemini recounts the eighth and final day of the inauguration of the Mishkan. On that day Aharon made his first appearance as the Kohein Gadol. Although hesitant at first, at Moshe's prodding he entered to perform the Avodah. He brought the appropriate korbanos, performed the related avodah and blessed Bnei Yisrael. Nevertheless, he did not succeed in bringing the Shechina down into the abode that had been created for this purpose.

Rashi (Vayikra 9, 23) tells us that Aharon was sure that it was his involvement in the making of the golden calf that was preventing the Shechina from descending into the Mishkan. He expressed his disappointment to Moshe, and Moshe entered the Mishkan along with Aharon and together they davened and successfully caused the Shechina to descend.

Rav Wolbe (Shiurei Chumash) comments that the lesson to be learned applies to each and every one of us and on a daily basis. Bnei Yisrael spent many days and months building the Mishkan and crafting its vessels, and thereafter, the kohanim spent eight consecutive days in its inauguration. Yet, they were not successful in these most lofty endeavors until their actions were accompanied with tefillah. So too, even when we toil greatly and invest much effort into our spiritual growth, we must not forget that tefillah must accompany our avodah.

The Gemara (Niddah 70b) relates that Reb Yehoshua ben Chananya was once asked by a group of people, "What is the proper way to acquire wisdom?" He answered, "He should spend much time studying and limit the time spent working." They countered that many have followed such advice, and nevertheless have not succeeded. He responded, "He should ask for compassion from the One Who is the source of all wisdom." The Gemara asks if acquiring wisdom is dependent entirely on prayer, why did Reb Yehoshua originally answer that wisdom is acquired through spending much time learning? The Gemara answers that it was to teach them that one is not sufficient without the other.

The Gemara seems to imply that the actual learning is secondary to the tefillah! Yes, one also must learn, but the main ingredient for success in Torah study is tefillah. We can understand how one who fails to open a sefer and merely spends the entire day praying that he succeed in learning, will not acquire wisdom. However, it is harder to understand how one who spends the entire day immersed in learning will not succeed because he did not ask for Heavenly help. Yet, if Chazal say so then it is absolutely true. The Chazon Ish said that on certain days he toiled more in his Tefillah than he did in his study of Torah!

Reb Yehonason Eibshitz zt"l, who was known as a genius, wrote that he found on days when he davened with kavana he succeeded in his learning while the opposite was true when his tefillos lacked kavana. He continues, "Therefore, do not say that one person is greater than another because of his intelligence or awesome wisdom and understanding. This is not the case! It is a falsehood! Rather, it is a present from Hashem, when one anticipates His abundant goodness and compassion by means of abundant prayer and pleading. There is nothing that grants a person proper understanding and helps decipher difficulties like a tearful tefillah that He have compassion, for Hashem listens to all those who call out to Him truthfully" (Ya'aros Devash).

We all know that all material pursuits must be accompanied with a prayer for success. However, it is not so obvious that the same applies for our ruchniyos endeavors. So much could be accomplished if we added a heartfelt tefillah! Try it and see for yourself!

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