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Haazinu, Shabbos Shuva: Reaching the Heavens with our Prayers

האזינו השמים ואדברה ותשמע הארץ אמרי פי.

“The heavens shall hearken and I will speak, and the earth shall listen to the saying of my mouth.” (Devarim 32:1)

Moshe Rabbeinu took heaven and earth as witnesses to what he was about to say. Why does he mention them separately, instead of saying that heaven and earth should listen together? Furthermore, why does Moshe mention that what he is saying is coming from the mouth, when this is self understood?

The tzaddik Rebbe Avrohom Yakov of Sadiger zt”l interpreted this verse as follows: “The Zohar writes that if a person learns Torah without love and fear of Hashem, then his Torah learning does not reach the heavens. But if a person does learn with love and fear of Hashem, then the Torah he learned rises up to the heavens. The verse is telling us that because the heavens hearken, it is a sign that the person has been learning properly. The word adabeira (I will speak) can also be interpreted to mean ‘I will lead.’ Someone who loves Hashem and fears Him will be worthy of leading the Jewish people.”

The Holiest day of the year is approaching. On Yom Kippur we stand in prayer from morning until night, begging Hashem for a favorable judgment. How can we make sure that our prayers reach the Heavens? The person leading the prayers in shul should be especially worried about the effectiveness of his tefillos, because he is responsible for the congregation.

Of course, the most important thing to do in order to be worthy of Divine mercy is to repent with sincerity and improve our deeds. In addition, a person who benefits the public and brings others closer to Hashem becomes worthy of having his prayers answered. Therefore, in addition to taking upon ourselves to improve ourselves, we should also focus on spreading awareness about Hashem and urging others to increase achdus, Torah learning and tzedaka. We should remind others not to get angry and to forgive each other. When a person speaks to others about self-improvement and his words are listened to, then he earns the merit of all of the good deeds that came about because of his words. With these merits at his side, he will have a much greater chance to be judged favorably during the awesome heavenly tribunal.

I recently spoke to a person who experienced many hardships this past year. One of his close relatives caused him tremendous anguish and put him through many difficulties and troubles. I advised this person to forgive his relative, and I explained to him that if after suffering so much from him he will forgive him, then he will be able to come to Hashem on Yom Kippur and say, “Master of the Universe! I am but a human being and even though I suffered so much I am able to forgive the person who wronged me. You are our dear Father in Heaven, and You can certainly forgive us!”

We can see this in the verse: “The heavens should hearken and I will speak.” If we want the heavens to hearken to our prayers on Yom Kippur, then we should make sure that “the earth shall listen to the saying of my mouth.” The verse emphasizes the mouth to show that it is not enough to believe in something, but we must spread the word among our fellow Jews by speaking up with out mouths. It is not enough to be bothered that our fellow Jews are ignorant of Torah and mitzvos or their conduct is against the Torah. We must speak to them with kindness and explain to them what is proper according to the Torah.

When trying to influence others, we should never speak from the mouth alone, but we should speak from the heart, as the Gemara says that “words coming from the heart penetrate the heart.” If you will speak from your mouth, with all your heart, and thereby cause others to become better and improve their actions, then the heavens will listen to your prayers and you will merit a favorable judgment.

May we indeed merit all kinds of yeshuos; those who are in need of a refuah should recover fully and those who need a nechama should be fully consoled. May we all merit being sealed in the Book of Life, and may we merit the final Geulah with great joy, speedily in our days.

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