After Pain, Prayer

Parashat BeHa'alotekha

The life of a prophet is nothing if not lonely. Summoned to “stand in the breach” between God and Israel (Ezekiel 22:20), the prophet must convey the divine word to an intractable people, yet also plead with a disheartened God to have mercy on them. One crucial dimension of the prophet’s intercession is rarely if ever noted—and yet it is part of what makes his work at once so difficult and so noble: He is called upon to pray for people who have hurt and disappointed him. No biblical figure more profoundly embodies this challenge than Moses. (5775)