The passuk in this week’s parsha says (Devarim 4,7)כי מי גוי גדול אשר לו אלקים קרובים אליו כה’ אלקינו בכל קראינו אליו who is great of a nation like Yisrael who has a G-d who is so close to them that whenever they daven and call to Him He answers their tefillos.

One of the expressions of Am Yisrael’s uniqueness lies in their power of tefillahthat Hashem listens and answers them. Why is this so? Furthermore, the gemarah in Berachos seems to make this outstanding feature conditional, in that our tefillos are answered if they are davened with a minyan a quorum of ten because only then it is called an עת רצון a time of wanting.

מאי דכתיב ואני תפלתי לך ה’ עת רצון אימתי עת רצון בשעה שהצבור מתפללין רבי יוסי ברבי חנינא אמר מהכא כה אמר ה’ בעת רצון עניתיך רבי אחא ברבי חנינא אמר מהכא הן אל כביר ולא ימאס וכתיב פדה בשלום נפשי מקרב לי כי ברבים היו עמדי תניא נמי הכי רבי נתן אומר מנין שאין הקדוש ברוך הוא מואס בתפלתן של רבים שנאמר הן אל כביר ולא ימאס וכתיב פדה בשלום נפשי מקרב לי (ברכות ח).
This idea is hinted to in the passuk above בכל קראינו אליו which is stated in the plural not the singular. The gemarah above learns out that even if one is not with a minyan but davens by himself at the exact time that the tzibbur is davening this connection alone to the tzibbur makes one’s private daveningduring a time of עת רצון. Why does the davening with a minyan make that much of a difference?

To understand this concept let us delve into the derivation of the word daven. We suggest that this is not a Yiddish word or even an Aramaic word which the Chidah suggests it is (דאבונהון, which means “of our Fathers”, the Avos, who fixed tefillah in their legacy which they inherited to KlalYisrael). The word daven is rather rooted in the LashonHakodesh of דאב בן which translates of father and son. The gentiles have a relationship of king and servant with Hashem which is in contrast to AmYisrael whose relationship is also one of a father and son. A King cannot forgive on his honor but a father can be mocheilon his kovod. Also when a son cries before his father it guarantees a merciful reaction which is not so with a relationship of a servant and king. Our relationship with Hashem of בנים אתם לה’ אלקיכם  is expressed with our tefillosto Hashem for that is why He demonstrates His favoritism to us which differentiates us from all other nations.

In the physical grounds of the BeisHamikdash lies the Rock, theאבן שתיה  from where all matter of earth was formed (Bamidbar  Rabba 12,4). The word אבן  is a combination of two words אב בן  (Rashi, Bereishis 49, 24). This is the reason why the BeisHamikdash is called בית תפלה because it is the origin and source of all earthly matter. At the source, things and situations can easily change and emerge differently from natural law. Therefore since AmYisrael have that relationship of בנים אתם לה’ they also have the special uniqueness of Hashem answering their tefillos at the place of the BeisHamikdash where the אבן  of the world is situated.

שמות לג יט גרי”ז ועפי”ז מבואר הא דכתיב (ואתחנן ד’ ז’) כי מי גוי גדול אשר לו אלקים קרובים אליו כה’ אלקינו בכל קראנו אליו. וצ”ב דהא באוה”ע מועיל ג”כ תפלה ותשובה כדמצינו ביונה. ובמלכים א’ ח’ וגם אל הנכרי וגו’ ויתפלל אל הבית הזה. ובישעיה נ”ו, כי ביתי בית תפלה יקרא לכל העמים. הרי דשייך תפלה בגוים. אכן הנה איתא בר”ה י”ח דבכל קראינו היינו בציבור וזהו פשוט, דצבור לא שייך אלא בישראל ולא באוה”ע. (והנה שם י”ז ע”ב והובא כאן בפירש”י ויעבר ה’ על פניו ויקרא. א”ר יוחנן מלמד שנתעטף הקב”ה כשליח ציבור והראה לו למשה סדר תפלה. אמר לו, כל זמן שישראל חוטאין לפני יעשו לפני כסדר הזה ואני מוחל להם. ומדאמר “כשליח צבור” חזינן דבצבור הוא דנאמר):

This that we find that the BeisHamikdash is called כי ביתי בית תפלה יקרא לכל העמים does not contradict the uniqueness of Yisrael possessing the power of tefillah. The Brisker Rav ztl writes that the goyim do not have the power of צבור  an achdus and unity amongst themselves. Even with groups of thousands together, they still remain a group of merely thousands individuals. This is in contrast to AmYisrael who have the identity of oneness even with multitudes of Yidden. The reason that separates us from the nations is our relationship of בנים אתם לה’ . The fact that we are children to Hashem means that we share the same father and we are and act like brothers to one another.

This concept the Rambam writes (Matnas Aniyim 10,2)

וכל ישראל והנלוה עליהם כאחים הם שנאמר בנים אתם לה’ אלהיכם ואם לא ירחם האח על האח מי ירחם עליו ולמי עניי ישראל נושאין עיניהן הלעכו”ם ששונאין אותו ורודפים אחריהן? הא אין עיניהן תלויות אלא לאחיהן
The relationship of the gentile nations with Hashem is not of the caliber of בנים. They therefore cannot daven as a tzibbur which is a reflection of בנים אתם לה’  achdus and unity which is the essence of davening as we explained above (the word דאבן and the אבן שתיה of the BeisHamikdash. The greater the amount of participants in the tzibbur davening, the greater the demonstration that we have the relationship of בנים  and achdus which causes the acceptance of our tefillah before our Father in heaven at this עת רצון. However, only when we act towards another Yid as our brother then we have the merit of בנים לה’. If we are not united with our brethren then we also are not considered בנים  and we don’t have that merit of Hashem being close to our tefillos even when we daven with a צבור.
All this is hinted in the letters of הן אל כביר ולא ימאס that Hashem will not despise one’s tefillah if it possesses a הן  nature. As the Medrash says (Bamidbar 23,9) on the letters of הן עם לבדד ישכון. All single letters add up to ten אט, בח, גז, דו except for the letter ה which goes with itself הה. The same system applies to tens adding up to 100 יצ, כפ, לע, מס,  but the נ stands alone with itself ננ. The word הן is plural and means they, a group. Yet each letterthat makes a plural of הן has it shelaimus of 10 and 100 by being the same as itself. In other words each letter represents two Yidden הה ננ who are the same and are bonded as one which symbolizes the attainment of the  madraigahofואהבת לרעך כמוך . Such a tzibbur Hashem doesn’t despise their tefillahהן אל כביר לא ימאס .
AmYisrael have recently unfortunately undergone four major tzaros, the pandemic of Covid, the Meiron disaster, the Stolin and Surfside deaths. One common thread that was present in all catastrophes is that they involved structures. Because of Covid there were lockdowns where one had to remain in his house and not go outside. In Meiron the structure was inadequate for a large crowd to exit in case of emergency. In Stolin the structures of the bleachers were not strong enough to hold the weight of the participants and in Miami the building had past evidence of decay and structural damage. A structure in LashonHakodesh is called a בנין from the lashon of בן  a child. A son is a human structure born from parents. With these tragic episodes Hashem is demonstrating that our focus should be to reexamine our relationship of בנים אתם  and realize that it is insecure and very shaky. Sure we can gather together as a tzibbur of multitudes but in our hearts and minds this reality of achdus is deteriorated and riddled with sinahschinam amongst us. By lacking this close knit relationship we endanger our tefillos from being accepted in Shamayim which causes a withholding from us the available protection of Hashem over us through tefillah.
Hashem created theבנין העולם  through speech בעשרה מאמרות נברא העולם . The letters of בנין  is also ניב שפתים  the movement of the lips which is referring to speech. That is why a נביא is called נביא because he speaks prophecy to the people. With distorted negative speech one breaks the בני of achdus amongst AmYisrael and removes its unique feature of oneness and the title of “Children of Hashem”.
To ensure our essential merit of בנים  we must strengthen our אמונה  in Hashem. He created every one of us with a tailor made unique history and a treasure of both strengths and weaknesses. We cannot be duplicated nor can we duplicate others, not physically, possession wise, and spirituality. When will we finally understand, that it was never meant to be another way? So why continue to be miserable jealous and have sinah of your brother when only by everyone striving to be the best he can be with all the tools and dynamics that were given to him alone, can he reach the shelaimus that he is destined to reveal as the messenger of Hashem and AmYisrael. איזהו עשיר השמח בחלקו. That is why we find thatבנים  is gematriah אמונה for with only emunah in Hashem will we become happy with our lot and then we can come to truly love our fellow Yid.
This concept is alluded to in the passuk (Mishlei 14,28)ברב עם הדרת מלך . That within a tzibbur there is the display of הדר beauty of the King. However, the word הדר  could also be translated as to return (הדרן). This means that if one davens in a tzibbur and he is “”ברב עם which is gematriah the name of שדי, which Chazal tell us is the acronym of שאמר די  that Hashem gave enough for everyone to attain shelaimus, then his tefillos trigger הדרת מלך that Hashem returns and answers his tefillos with a shefah of beracha.
וכל החיים יודוך סלה. The letters of וכל  is the acronym ואהבת לרעך כמוך . When one is not jealous of his brother and can be happy with his brother’s successes both material and spiritual, then he can experience חיים true life and happiness. This is followed with  יודוך סלה thankfulness to Hashem for whatever falls in his lot. 

– Rav Brazil
Gut Shabbos