How to Pray?
I need help understanding Moshe’s prayer at the end of Beha’alotecha: “Moshe cried out to God, saying, “Please, God, heal her now!” Rashi offers two explanations for this concise prayer: 1) Moshe did not want Israel to criticize him for spending too long in prayer while his sister suffered. 2) Moshe did not want Israel to complain that he spent more time praying for his sister than he did praying for them.
I took a poll this past Shabbat, asking people; “If, God forbid, someone close to you was seriously ill, would you pray concisely, as in, “Please God, heal her!” or, would you pray a more elaborate prayer?
I asked 25 people. Only one immediately understood that I was asking about Moshe’s prayer for Miriam. 20 people answered that if they thought about it, which they probably would not, they would pray concisely. 5 argued that a longer prayer is more effective.
Why is Rashi so bothered by Moshe’s prayer?
How could he be criticized for a long prayer while his sister was suffering if he was praying for her healing? Can we infer that we should not pray a long prayer for someone who is ill? Halacha reminds us to not pray a long prayer at someone’s bedside as it may make him or her nervous that he or she is in more danger than he or she previously thought, but there is no mention in Halacha of praying for too much time while someone is suffering.
Miriam was not suffering as much as she was ashamed. Is that the key to understand why Moshe could not pray at length? Did Moshe’s prayer work at least to shorten the time of her suffering?
How could Israel possibly complain that Moshe had not prayed quite elaborate prayers for them?
If Moshe was so concerned, how could he pray 515 prayers to be allowed into Israel? Would Israel not complain that he did not pray 515 times for them to be allowed to enter Israel after the sin of the spies?
When we ask someone to pray for us, would we prefer a concise or lengthy prayer?
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