Rashi brings two commentaries on the first word of this week's Torah portion, "Ve'etchanan": The first is related to the concept of a free - in Hebrew, "chinam" - gift, referring to Moses' request of G‑d to allow him to enter Israel without being judged - even if he didn't deserve it. The second is that "ve'etchanan" is one of the ten words for prayer used in the Torah. This would make the translation simply: "And I [Moses] prayed...." (Deut. 3:23)

Only when one is chosen by G‑d to receive a ray of divine light…can a person be transformed….

We have, one G‑d and one Torah. From this we understand that even if there seems to be differences between Torah commentaries, nevertheless, all 70 "faces" of Torah join together as they move in the channel that connects physical and spiritual worlds. What is the connection here?

Chassidut explains the idea of a "free gift" in this world. Each Jew is given certain abilities and characteristics in order to reach his or her true potential. It is impossible for the individual to break out of these boundaries on his or her own. Only when one is chosen by G‑d to receive a ray of divine light, incomparably more intense then his or her own strengths, can a person be transformed. This is because that person is tapping into the infinite. It is called a "free gift" since it is not given in any quantifiable relationship to our observance of the commandments. Even though we must earn this gift, it is considered free because its value transcends all aspects of our reality and can be given to anyone, not only tzadikim or extraordinary souls. It is available to every Jew.

Torah existed before the world's creation, so it is not limited to the natural order….

There is one specific method for tapping into this infinite strength: the study of Torah. Torah existed before the world's creation, so it is not limited to the natural order. It is G‑d's will and wisdom. Since it transcends this physical world, it can tap into strengths beyond the world, to help a person break his or her boundaries. We learn from this verse Moses' inner intention: He wanted that the Jewish people should merit reaching spiritually lofty levels when they entered Israel through the study of Torah. Moses was unsuccessful in his goal. This is hard to understand, for it was Moses who learned the Torah from G‑d on Mount Sinai and thereby was certainly able to tap into the infinite! He must have known the formula! If he was unable to draw this process down for the Jewish people, who possibly could?

The inherent problem is that though Torah learning taps into levels much higher than This World and our observance of mitzvahs, the learning (just because of is great power) sometimes remains "suspended"- it does not always descend into the physical world.

The entire purpose of prayer is to effect positive change in this world….

If so, what about prayer? The entire purpose of prayer is to effect positive change in this world. The power drawn by prayer does not remain Above, for we see that the sick are healed and the rain falls!. Prayer is such an easy method to draw power into the world because it specifically does not always reach a relatively high source. In the same way, the prayers of Moses were also not enough to grant the Jewish people added spiritual abilities, either. So what could?

On one hand, the high level of Torah cannot descend to our earthly plane, and on the other hand, prayer cannot go high enough. Neither alone can bring the desired affect. Moses' goal was to combine the unique benefits of Torah and prayer in his effort to help the Jewish people. We learn this through the dual meanings of the word "ve'etchanan". As mentioned, "ve'etchanan" can refer to both "prayer" and the "free" gift that Torah brings in reaching above worldly heights.

With all the good intentions that Moses had, G‑d did not heed his request. This is because G‑d wants us to do the work by ourselves, to strive in both Torah and prayer and not to rely on Moses. This lofty spiritual combination will only ultimately be revealed with the revelation of Mashiach. May it be now. Remember the next time you want to change the world: you have to join both Torah and prayer.

Shabbat Shalom, Shaul

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