Parashas Ki Savo

This week’s parashah begins with mitzvah of bringing first fruits (bikkurim). When a person brings the first fruits, he is supposed to recite a standard text, which the Torah presents, that recounts how Hashem delivered the Jewish People from Egypt and brought them to the Land of Israel. The text includes the following statement (Devarim 26:7): “And we cried out to Hashem, the God of our fathers, and Hashem heard our voice ….” The Maggid cites a comment in the Midrash stating that the phrase “our voice” refers to groaning and sighing (I was unable to locate the exact source), and he analyzes what this comment is meant to add.
The Maggid explains as follows. Consider a person who seeks something from the king. If he believes he is entitled to what he seeks, he will go through the standard channels, relying on the ministers to convey his claim to the king. But if he is hoping for a show of mercy, then he will want to approach the king himself. Crying before some minister would not serve his purpose; while the minister would duly convey the request, he would not cry on his behalf. Only if the petitioner appeared before the king personally would the king see him crying for help. The Midrash is telling us that Hashem did not deal with the Jewish People through any intermediary, but rather He listened directly to their voice, and heard their deparate groans and sighs.
In this vein, Daniel pleads (Daniel 9:18): “Incline Your ear, my God, and listen; open Your eyes and see our desolations … for not on account of our righteousness do we pour out our supplications before you, but on account of Your great mercy.” Since Daniel seeks a show of mercy, he asks Hashem to listen to his plea directly.
Similarly, Asaph, one of Korach’s sons, pleads (Tehillim 77:2-3): “I direct my voice to God as I cry out; I direct my voice to God, that He pay heed to me. On my day of distress I sought my Lord. My wound streams through the night without cease; my soul refuses to be consoled.” Again, we find a direct appeal to Hashem. In addition, we see how a person in distress keeps pleading without stop. A person who wishes to complain about some injustice will not necessarily push hard to get the matter resolved. But a person who is surrounded by enemies who seek to destroy him will cry out to Hashem right away, and he will not let up until he is saved.
A direct appeal to Hashem for mercy, out of a sense of distress, is the approach we take in the selichos prayers and during the ten days of repentence. Thus, we say in the selichos prayers: “Not on account of our piety not on account of our deeds have we come before You; like the bereft and the destitute we knock on Your door. We knock on Your door, O Merciful and Gracious One – please do not turn us away from Your presence empty-handed. From Your presence, our King, do not turn us away empty-handed, for You hear prayer.”
David Zucker, Site Administrator

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