Influence - In Memoriam of Mr. David m. Warren (Manachem Dovid ben Harav Yosef Z'L)
The act of prayer helps in two ways. First, the very act of crying out can move us closer toward the very thing we’re requesting. When Caleb prayed to Hashem in the presence of his forefathers, the act of praying helped fortify him from the challenges to come. Second, we cry out for heavenly assistance because the lure is so great we cannot do it without G-d's help.
As the Children of Israel were about to enter the Promised Land, they asked Moses for permission to first send spies, arguing the spies were needed to understand the layout of the land in order to prepare for war. (Nahmanides 13:2; Rabbi Moshe ben Nachman; Gerona, Spain; 1194 - 1270) They selected 12 men, leaders of Israel, one representative from each tribe. However, upon their return, the spies slandered the Promised Land and died for their sin.
For believing the spies’ false testimony, the Children of Israel wandered the Sinai Desert for forty years and the adults between the ages of 20 and 60 died during that time.
Of the 12 spies, only Joshua, representing the tribe of Ephraim, and Caleb, representing the tribe of Judah, rejected the others’ slander and were granted entry to the Land of Israel.
Joshua and Caleb were a minority among the twelve and men more prominent than them slandered the land. The Children of Israel sided with the ten. Yet, not only did Joshua and Caleb not succumb to pressure, they fought back. They told the nation the land was “very, very good . . . it is a land that flows with milk and honey.” (Numbers 14:7)
The Torah says the people gathered were ready to kill Joshua and Caleb. (Numbers 14:10) From where did Joshua and Caleb get the strength?
Joshua’s original name was Hosea and Moses’s changed it to Yehoshua (Joshua) which translates to “G-d should save you.” Rashi explains that Moses changed the name and prayed that Joshua should be saved from of the spies’ conspiracy.
When the Torah recounts the travels of the spies, it mentions, “They came up from the south and he came to Hebron.” (Numbers 13:22) Rashi (1040 – 1105) explains that Caleb was the only individual that came to Hebron. Caleb made a specific stop at the tomb of the Patriarchs (Abraham, Isaac and Jacob) in Hebron to pray that he does not succumb to the influence of the 10 spies.
In both cases, we see prayer as a major support to resisting an evil influence. But what is the power of prayer? We can understand how praying on someone else’s behalf, as Moses did for Joshua, can help, but why should someone need to pray on his own behalf, as Caleb did? Isn’t a conscious decision to resist, good enough? Isn't it up to the person to make the decisions of his heart?
As we pass through the challenges of our daily lives, confronted by the ideologies, public opinions, and progressive influences of society, so contrary to a Torah lifestyle yet so powerful, it is not enough to just make the conscious decision to remain aloof. Knowledge that something is wrong is not enough to protect against the constant bombardment of negative influences. We must fortify ourselves against negative influences. We must pray to G-d for help.
May our prayers be answered.