Va’etchanan brings to mind the prayer-like figures, “seeped in the word chanan,” like Chana and Chanina ben Dosa who were so famously known for their deep supplications. In this parsha, however, it is Moshe who depicts his pleas on behalf of the children of Israel, prayers that were likely enshrined in thoughtfulness and fear. Interestingly, the Ibn Ezra (Deuteronomy: 6:1-2) points out in this parsha that the purpose of all the mitzvot of the Torah is to arrive at a state of fear. In another place in the parsha we are hinted to this notion as well, by the prayer of Shema Yisrael—the ultimate pronouncement of our fear of God—where there is an enlarged ayin and dalet by the words Shema and Echad. If these two letters are matched up, it creates the word “ed,” testimony, because, in the end, it is our perfection of fear that testifies who we are as a people. Prayer is the ultimate medium to verbalize a sense of awe and astonishment, a place that speaks to where we are standing before God.
Steven Genack is the author of “Articles, Anecdotes & Insights,” Genack/Genechovsky Torah from Gefen Press.