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Biography of Yehuda Katz | Archives | This Week's Parsha


" And as for me, I have given you Shechem.......................which I took from the Emorites with my sword and with my bow." (48:22)

Before Jacob's death, he speaks with Joseph, and bestows upon him the city of Shechem. Targum Onkalas explains sword and bow to mean prayer.A question can be asked, in what way is prayer compared to a sword and bow? What can we learn about prayer that prompted Targum Onkalas to refer to it as a sword and bow? I would like to , Bezrat Hashem, propose the following original answer: The purpose of prayer on a basic level is two fold, (1) to acknowledge G-ds existence, and thereby (2) come closer to G-d. Yet at times a person can get seduced by gross and excessive materialism that deters him away from spirituality. Prayer is a powerful spiritual "weapon" that has the ability to awaken within ourselves our true yearning to be close to G-d. When a person has a sense that he or she is close to G-d than prayer is compared to a sword that cuts through the "fat" of excessive materialism since a sword is primarily a weapon used for close combat. However, at times a person can feel far from G-d and needs a weapon more suited for distance combat, namely the bow. In such a circumstance, a person needs to try to pierce through excessive materialism from a distance, and thus make holes and openings that will eventually allow spirituality to enter. Even if a person imagines himself to be far from G-d, this need not deter him or her from shooting the bow (prayer) from whatever location he may be at this time.This is a very valuable lesson to learn, especially when our spirituality seems to be depressed and weak.We have to utilize whatever "weapons" are at our disposal that will enable us to cut through the "fat" that is blocking our spiritual self worth. Sometimes it will be a sword, and at other times it will be a bow. Have a good Shabbos................


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