Vayechi 5776

Yaakov tells Yosef that he acquired the city of Shechem בחרבי ובקשתי (“with my sword and my bow”). אונקלוס translates these words בצלותי ובבעותי, which is loosely translated as “with my prayers and my asking”.

What is the difference between these two terminologies?

The משך חכמה explains there are two different types of prayers. The first are the three daily prayers, which were instituted by the forefathers and constructed by the אנשי כנסת הגדולה. These were embedded with all kinds of special intentions and emotions of the original composers. Our simple repetition of these words embody and recall the very same holiness to the Almighty and they have inherent strength.

The second kind of prayer is that of our own words, stirred from our own inspiration. The potency and divine response to these prayers will depend on the person himself and his intentions during his personal prayer. This is symbolized by the very words that Yaakov used, “sword and bow”. A sword’s power is derived from it’s sharpness. An arrow, on the other hand, needs the archer’s pull to create it’s power. (Interestingly, the archer pulls the bow towards his heart and the prayers power will depend on what comes from his heart.)

The מדרש tells us that Yosef’s continuous success was attributed to his constant prayers. Upon beginning his daily chores, he would say a short prayer for success. At the end of the day, he would pray with a thank you for the day’s success.

Everyone in כלל ישראל has these instruments at his disposal. These prayers can be said at anytime, place, and situation.

In middle of the day, “Hashem please watch over Klal Yisroel, ” or “Hashem watch over the Yidden in Israel,” and “Hashem I am entering an important business meeting- please but the right words in my mouth.” We can even say, “Hashem I am spending time with my children and I would like it to be a very positive interaction”.

Let’s remember to utilize the opportunity given to us to turn to the Almighty for help throughout our day.