By Rabbi Moshe Meir Weiss
The Torah informs us that before Balak commissioned Bilam to curse Klal Yisroel, he spoke to the elders of Midyan. Rashi adds, Why did Balak seek advice from Midyan? Rashi answers that when Balak saw the incredible conquests of Moshe Rabbeinu, he started to do research about him. He discovered that Moshe Rabbeinu spent his formative years in Midyan. He therefore inquired from them what they thought Moshe’s special powers were. The Midyanites definitively answered, “Ein kocho ela b’feh – His strength is only with the mouth.” Similarly, in Parshas Masei, Rashi informs us that the umnos, the craft of the B’nai Yisroel is with the mouth. He elaborates, “Al yedei tefila u’bakasa – Through prayer and requests.” Rashi goes on to say that because Bilam usurped the ammunition of the Jews and tried to harm us with the mouth, measure for measure we adopted the ammunition of the goyim, namely the sword and Bilam ben Beor hargu b’chorev – Bilam the son of Beor was slain by the sword.
Thus we see that our nation’s strength is not with bows and arrows, spears and shields, nor with tanks and jets. Rather, as Dovid HaMelech says, “Eila b’rechev v’eila basusim v’anachu b’Sheim Hashem Elokeinu nazkir – There are those who come with chariots and others with mighty steeds, but we come with the Name of Hashem our G-d.” This sentiment is also echoed in the famous verse, Hakol kol Yaakov v’yadaim yedei Esav – The voice is the voice of Yaakov while the strength of Esav lies in his hands.”
Although our wonderful and brave IDF is a marvelous example of proper hishtadlus, similar to the loyal, skilled and courageous chaiyalim of King Dovid, they were always aware that they drew their strength and were fueled by the tefilos of Klal Yisroel. Indeed, when Moshe Rabbeinu sent twelve thousand elite soldiers to conquer Midyan, it says, “Elef l’mateh, elef l’mateh – A thousand for each tribe, a thousand for each tribe.” It seems like mere repetition. However, the Das Zekeinim miBalei Tosefos explains for every thousand warriors there was a corresponding thousand tefilah specialists who prayed for them at home, thus emphasizing the idea that success in the battlefield was primarily determined by the heartfelt prayers of the Jewish people. Indeed, the very emblem of King Dovid, the six-sided star of David, stood for echad l’malah v’echad l’mateh v’arbeh ruchos, that they realized that their strength lay in Hashem who rules above and below and in all four directions.
Rashi teaches us that our national power is with our mouths through the craft of prayer and request. Since Rashi calls it a profession, it means that we have to study it and learn its many skills like we would learn if we were studying to become a doctor or a lawyer. In the next series of articles, with the help of Hashem I hope to give you an in-depth course in the many facets of this unique profession. In the merit of learning our national skill set, may Hashem bless us with long life, good health, and everything wonderful.
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Rabbi Weiss’s Rebbetzin, Shoshy Weiss, LCSW-R is moving her therapy practice from Monroe and Monsey to Boro Park and Staten Island. She will be in Boro Park on Mondays and Staten Island on Tuesdays. She caters to women and girls only and specializes in the treatment of anxiety, low self-esteem issues, depression, trauma, and relationship enhancement. She is a specialist in E.M.D.R. and I.F.S (Internal Family Systems) and D.B.T. (Dialectical Behavior Therapy). She has been practicing for over two decades. She will bezras Hashem start a D.B.T. group after Succos in Boro Park(for women only). Fidelis will be accepted for this group! To get a slot, call or text 845.270.3699.
Sheldon Zeitlin takes dictation of, and edits, Rabbi Weiss’s articles.
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