Congregation Ohave Shalom - Young Israel of Pawtucket

Haggadah: The Power of Prayer

by: Beth Kessler

When Benei Yisrael are enslaved in Egypt, we are told, "And we cried out to HaShem, the Gd of our fathers, and HaShem heard our cry." When one reads this Pasuk, one can ask a couple of questions.

One curious aspect is that it is known to HaShem that the Jewish people are suffering! Why is their prayer necessary to facilitate their redemption?

Furthermore, why at this particular time does Gd choose to answer their prayers? Weren't they crying out throughout their period of servitude?

One reason for HaShem to wait until Benei Yisrael cry out is that HaShem wants us to put in our own effort. Even when a task seems formidable, if we begin to do it, Gd will help us. HaShem helps a person in the way that he wants to go.

An illustration of this is found by a story of the daughter of Pharaoh. There are commentators who say that she sent out her hand to take Moshe out of the water, despite the fact that he was too far away to reach. However, since these were attempts to do all that she was able to do, HaShem helped her and caused her hand to stretch until she was able to reach Moshe.

One explanation of why HaShem waited until this point to redeem the Jewish people is found in the change of Benei Yisrael's pleas. In the beginning, Benei Yisrael cried because of their physical pain, but Benei Yisrael then cried, "to HaShem the Gd of our fathers." A spiritual aspect was added to the Jewish people's request for assistance, and HaShem redeemed them.

The interaction between the Jewish people and HaShem teaches us an important message. It shows us that when we want to accomplish something we should not get discouraged, but persist, and if we have the proper intentions then HaShem will come to our aid. We can perceive from this episode the importance of prayer, and understand that HaShem is not going to give us everything we pray for. HaShem knows what is best for us, so that even though events may not go the way we hope, we have to believe that HaShem is orchestrating events for our good.

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