The Psalm of Redemption VI: Na’eh L’Hodot
“A righteous man will flourish like a date palm, like a cedar in the Lebanon he will grow tall. Planted in the house of God, in the courtyards of our Lord they will flourish.” (Psalm 92: 13-14) We can understand these verses based on the teachings of Rabbi Chaim Palaggi, who taught that the one who leads the congregation in prayer must be proper, meaning, free of sin. He must be someone about whom no one spoke evil, even in his youth, and he must be humble and beloved by all. If it is difficult to find such a person, the congregation must seek the person most wise, and filled with understanding.
The reason we must seek such a person to lead us in prayer is that he must be someone to whom the angels, that bring our prayers before God, will pay attention. (See Zera Avraham O”C #6; Radbaz #5)
The Magen Avraham taught that the one who leads the congregation in prayer must be free of any physical blemishes, as the verse (Malachi 1:8) teaches, “”Present it, if you please, to your governor.” (If a human governor would not accept such a gift, surely it is scornful to bring them to God.)
Moshe is teaching us that the one who leads us in prayer, “yifraCH, kaereZ, BalvanoN,” spells out Chazan: The Chazan must be one who stands like a date palm, and who can inspire the congregation to feel, “Planted in the house of God, in the courtyards of our Lord they will flourish.” Rabbi Nissim Avraham Ashkenazi – Na’eh L’Hodot on Tehillim
Machberes Avodas Hashem
As long as the slaves in Egypt searched for leaders of such high quality, they were deserving of redemption. The ability to set such high standards for a leader reflects a spirit that still reaches far and high.
We can evaluate our own access to Redemption by the standards we set for those who will lead and teach us.