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Prayer Skills-So What-Shemot-Elokeinu

“His sister stationed herself at a distance to know what would be done with him (Exodus 2:4).” It does not mean that she simply, “stood there,” but, that “she placed herself there with full intent, full energy.”


That which is related by the Word of God differs sharply from that which is related by Man. The latter is very rarely kept purely objective, people are not satisfied to relate facts just as they did occur, they introduce the feelings, moods of their heroes, putting themselves in their place. And where can one find a better occasion than this, in which the narrator would not have failed to express the deep feelings of the people concerned, the despair, the fear, the heroic decision, the trembling heart at carrying it out, the agonizing appeal to God while awaiting the result.

The Word of God simply relates the bare fact for us to understand what Miriam felt that such a moment, every feeling person can feel for themselves. But as far as it just affects the facts, the Torah paints for us the finest nuances. At such a moment one’s acts are only semiconscious. One does not know what one is doing and one’s own will does function; but at the same time the tragic possibilities of the moment are so overwhelming, that one is half following the directions of some higher forcing power. The sister knew that she went and stood waiting there, but she also suddenly stopped there as if placed there by some higher power, a mixture of considered and forced action. (Rabbi Samson R. Hirsch)

Each time we say the word “Elokeinu” in our prayers we are referring to that Higher, Forcing Power that guides us especially during the moments when we are so overwhelmed that we are only half functioning by our own will.


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