The Gemara in Makos tells us that a person who had accidentally killed a fellow Jew was in danger of losing his life, unless he fled to a city of refuge – an “ir miklat” – and remained there. These “prisoners” were released from the arei miklat upon the death of the Kohen Gadol. The Gemara asks: What did the Kohen Gadol do wrong that caused him to be in the position where these people are waiting for him to die so that they can go free? The Gemara answers that he should have davened more for his people so that nobody would kill another person, even unintentionally.
We see two crucial points about tefilah from this Gemara. HaRav Shlomo Wolbe focuses on the responsibility of one to daven for those who rely upon that person. He quotes another Gemara where Eliyahu HaNavi told Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi that he was responsible for the lion that killed his neighbor, because he should have davened harder for those around him. HaRav Wolbe mentions that he felt that whatever he accomplished was only because his mother davened for him up to ten times a day.
We see the tremendous responsibility Hashem has placed upon us, and the power that Hashem has bestowed upon us to daven for those who look to us for support of any kind
HaRav Henoch Leibowitz focuses on another crucial aspect of this Gemara. We know that all that happens is totally just, and calculated with exact precision. We see here that, although Hashem decreed that one person should fall off of a ladder and kill another person, had the Kohen Gadol davened harder, the death would not have happened, despite the decree! HaRav Leibowitz shows from the end of the 19th perek of M’silas Y’sharim that this is true not only for a Kohen Gadol or gadol ha’dor, but for each and every one of us. The M’silas Y’sharim says that each of our tefilos has the power to bring Mashiach! There are other reasons why Mashiach has not come yet, but in potential, any of our tefilos has the ability to even bring Mashiach.
When we combine these two aspects of tefilah, we see the tremendous responsibility Hashem has placed upon us, and the power that Hashem has bestowed upon us to daven for those who look to us for support of any kind. I recall one amazing high school rebbe who told me how he davens for the children in his shiur. Parents, grandparents, friends, therapists, doctors, etc. all would seem to have this opportunity, responsibility, and power.
May we be zocheh to daven for each other, for klal Yisrael as a whole, and for the close connection with the Sh’chinah to return speedily in our days.
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