I know I’ve talked about this before, but contained in this week’s parsha is what I consider the greatest (and my favorite) example of personal prayer. Allow me, if you will, to set the scene:
Miriam and Aharon, in front of Moshe apparently, are talking about him (I will make no judgments here about whether they were speaking ill or simply about him). Miriam, for that particular sin, is immediately afflicted with tzara’at. Aharon turns to her, and “behold, she is afflicated with tzara’at.” (Side point: I think this is more than just he saw that she was; Aharon is the Kohen Gadol, and only a Kohen can make a determination of tzara’at. Aharon turning to her is because he has to, to inspect her, and the “behold” is because it is, in fact, tzara’at, and he has to rule that it is. This might even be the first time Aharon has actually encountered tzara’at (depending on when this story actually happened)).
Aharon turns to Moshe and with what I read as a sense of urgency, begs him to “not press charges,” essentially. This appears to be a serious affliction, as Aharon calls her, pretty much, “half dead.” Things are dire. They don’t really know that she’ll survive. It’s scary.
Moshe now is dealing with a moment of deep personal feelings; perhaps the most personal of reasons he’s ever had to pray to God for help. This is his family. If there was ever going to be an outpouring of emotion, wordiness, prakim of tehillim said over and over, it would be now.
And yet, Moshe says five words. That’s it! FIVE WORDS! And two of them are please. “El na, refah nah la.” “Please, God, heal her, please.” That’s it. There IS nothing more to say.
That, to me, the true emotion of it, the succintness of it, is the model we should follow in our prayer.
I feel like we truly miss the point sometimes. We go to shul and recite formulas that we don’t (for the most part) truly understand. We say the things that are written there, and we spend hours doing it. That’s not tefillah. That’s no way to strengthen our connection to God. God has no need to be read to; he wants to be engaged. He wants us to pour out our hearts.
Please, God. Please.