Parshas Shemos Shemos
Exodus 1:1 - 6:1

How G-d Answers Prayer ©

By Dr. Akiva G. Belk

This study of the weekly parsha is dedicated in the loving memory of Mrs. Ethel Belk, may she rest in peace.

Sefer Bereishis covered two thousand years in fifty chapters. Sefer Shemos covers less than two hundred years in forty chapters. The majority of Sefer Shemos covers just a few years. The first sixteen chapters deal with freedom. The next eight chapters offer legal guidance. The remaining sixteen chapters center on preparing for the Mishkon.

As the world prepares for the new millennium, the year 2,000 on the Gregorian calendar cycle, we in Yiddishkeit continue on in the year 5760. Every year at this time we begin the discussion of freedom. Discussing freedom requires change. Parshas Shemos ushers in the atmosphere of change.

Isn't it interesting that at this time of year so many world residents make NEW YEAR'S RESOLUTIONS? Residents of the world are moved to reflect on the need for change. They accredit this change to the new year but in fact it actually is the result of a much older tradition, that of Parshas Shemos. So much GOOD comes from the concept of turning over a new leaf. Start the new year on the right foot. Get off to a good start. The old year is behind us and a new year is starting. The winds of change are very strong during the next four weeks. The attitude of shuvah / repentance is great. It's wonderful! Very wonderful!!

Yet, unfortunately, four weeks from now the majority of the world's residents will have begun their drift back towards their unconquered problems. Why? New year's resolutions fade. There is a very big difference between the popular new year's resolution and Jewish shuvah. Shuvah / repentance lasts, new year's resolutions fade.

Shuvah is a plan designed by the Creator of the world, Hashem! IT IS FOR ALL HIS Creation! Shuvah was designed to lead dependent, addicted, subordinate, subservient, reliant, uncertain, weak, defenseless, disarmed, exposed, helpless, powerless, susceptible, unprotected, powerless and vulnerable people to FREEDOM. It has absolutely nothing to do with new year's. In simple terms, it is G-d's plan to assist his Creation. During the next four weeks we do our prep work. Yes... Preparation work for deliverance at Pesach!

Freedom is not a loose cannon. Freedom is a way of life. The ways of freedom must first be learned. Freedom requires a charging system and a way of maintaining that system. Our way is commanded by G-d in the Torah. The Seven Noaic Commands is the way for the rest of the world. Freedom requires a system of values that establishes and maintains its beautiful environment. Both Judaism and the Seven Noaic Laws maintain this way.

During these next four weeks we make our attempts to break loose of our confinements BUT some of us will fail because we did not established the environment for our freedom. We need a stronger desire to succeed! We need anchors to hold our progress. We need fences to protect us from our impulses. So how do we accomplish this? For Jews it the observance of the Torah and for the rest of the world it is the Seven Noach Laws.

In this week's parsha we begin an intense learning program between now and Pesach that will strengthen our spiritual and moral fiber. It is designed so that when we succeed we will maintain our freedom and not look back to Mitzriam, the place of our captivity, after a hard fight!!
Today is the beginning of our journey to freedom from that which oppresses us.

Our focus today is on how G-d answers prayer. This is a major hang up for many of this world's residents. For many years I have heard the testimonies of people who pray to leaders of various religions or spiritual paths... eastern...western... Mohammed... Jesus... Buddha... the Dali Lama... Gurumayi... et al. Some people pray to Mary whom they believe to be Jesus' mother. Others pray to people they believe to be saints like Peter, Paul, et al...

At JewishPath we receive e mail from readers who claim to be very devout to their particular religion. Each strongly believes that their particular religion is the right one. Each makes their plea to us citing great answers to prayer. Personally, I did not question their sincerity. Nor did I think they were lying. So how could it be that all these people can cite answers to their prayers as the foundation for their belief in a particular religion?

The answer to that question is in this week's parsha. It is so simple. It is not profound. In fact the answer is repeated many times throughout the Bible. First, an example of what I am about to explain.

Ten mothers are sitting in a room not far from where their children are playing. A child begins to cry. Immediately without question the mother of the child says to the other mothers present, "That sounds like Billy," as she rises to see what's the matter. Ten mothers do not jump up. Usually it's just the mother of the child who is crying... ALL THE MOTHER HAS TO HEAR IS HER CHILD'S CRY! Nothing more!

In the same exact way G-d as Creator responds to the cries of his Creation. It is not the name that G-d hears. It is the cry that G-d hears!

Hashem said to Moshe, "I have indeed seen the affliction of My people which are in Mitzriam, and have heard their cry by reason of their slave masters; for I know their sorrows..". Exodus 3:7

Listen to the voice of my cry, my King, and my G-d: to thee will I pray. Ps. 5:2

In my distress I called upon Hashem, and cried to my G-d: He heard my voice out of his temple, and my cry came before Him, even into His ears. Ps. 18:6

Hear, O Hashem, when I cry with my voice: have mercy also upon me, and answer me. Ps. 27:7

The eyes of Hashem are upon the righteous, and His ears are open unto their cry.
Ps. 34:15

The righteous cry, and Hashem hears, and delivers them out of all their troubles. Ps. 34:17

I waited patiently for Hashem; and He inclined unto me, and heard my cry. Ps. 40:1

Nevertheless He regarded their affliction, when He heard their cry: Ps. 106:44

Then they cry to Hashem in their trouble, and He saved them out of their distresses.
Ps. 107:19

He will fulfill the desire of them that fear Him: He also will hear their cry, and will save them.
Ps. 145:19

In Judaism we cry out to G-d directly. We do not use an intermediary. For a Jew to pray using an intermediary is a sin

Jews are NOT evangelical! We are not missionaries scouring the world in search of converts to Judaism. We do not solicit for converts! WHY? WHY? Dear reader, G-d hears the cries of all His Creation. There is no magical formula required in reaching out to
G-d. G-d responds to the cries of the righteous people of every religious belief.

Dear reader, it is ONLY man who promotes his path to G-d. G-d the Creator just listens to the cries of His Creation. So all that is necessary for the dependent, addicted, subordinate, subservient, reliant, uncertain, weak, defenseless, disarmed, exposed, helpless, powerless, susceptible, unprotected, powerless and vulnerable WHO ARE IN NEED IS TO SIMPLY CRY OUT TO G-D. G-d will hear.

Wishing you the best,

Dr. Akiva G. Belk

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