Yosef sent his father עגלות to carry him down to Mitzrayim. When Yaakov sees the wagons thepassuk says ותחי רוח יעקב אביו the spirit of Yaakov became rejuvenated. What was it about the nature of these mundane wagons that caused Yaakov to react in this fashion?
Chazal interpret the symbol of the wagons Yosef sent to Yaakov to refer to the שש עגלות צב the six covered wagons which were used to miraculously carry part of theMishkan together with 12 oxen to pull these wagons (Devarim 7,3). The leaders of the 12 Shevatim donated these wagons as their personal gifts to the Mishkan on the day of its sanctification. Why six wagons with twelve oxen? We would like to suggest that the BeisHamikdash and the Mishkan were a place of avodah especially designated for sacrificing korbanos. Corresponding to the korbanos our chachamim instituted ShemonehEsraiTefillah.
The Baal Haturiim at the end of parshasPekudei explains this relationship of the Mishkan to ShemonehEsrai in a very exacting parallel. The Torah repeats the words of כאשר צוה ה’ את משה 18 times for different vessels constructed for the functioning of the Mishkan. These eighteen times correspond to the ShemonehEsrai. He continues to write that in the 18 times of mentioning כאשר צוה ה’ את משה , one finds the gematriah of 113. This number equals the words in the end of each of the eighteen berachos such as ברוך אתה ה’ מגן אברהם (5) ברוך אתה ה’ מחיה המתים (5) etc. Furthermore, we find in Tanach the word לב113 times because ShemonehEsrai must be davened with kavannah of the heart.
We can expand this thought and say that the intention of the twelve leaders for bringing six wagons and twelve oxen on the day of the sanctification of the Mishkan was to demonstrate this relationship between the Mishkan and tefillasShemonehEsrai. The original 18 berachos were divided into three parts. Three berachos that start with praise to Hashem, and three berachos that end the ShemonehEsrai with gratitude to Hashem. These six berachos correspond to the six wagons that they donated and which carried parts of the Mishkan when travelling. The twelve oxen that pulled these wagons corresponded to the 12 berachos of requests which is sandwiched between these six berachos. Even the שש עגלות the six wagons themselves allude to tefillah for שש is the number6 and the word עגלות is 509 altogether 515 the gematriah of תפלה
Aside the gematriah we brought above why are wagon עגלות symbolic of tefillah? The Yerushalmi says that there is no natural square in creation only circles. Today we understand this very clearly because everyone agrees that all matter is composed of atoms running in circles at high speeds thereby appearing to be a solid. When one davens he must connect himself to the mission of the world and all matter which is to complete the circle, to connect the end to the beginning , the letter ת to the letter א, and the creation to its creator.
The gemarah talks about an episode with a Taana named Choni Hama’agail who was the most pious person of his generation. But how do we know if a person is really pious? The gemarah gives the criterion that allows others to tell if the person is really a pious person This condition is, the ability to influence the bringing down of rain. The key of rainfall is in the Hand of Hashem. It order for one’s prayer for rain to be effective one must find favor in the eyes of Hashem by making his ‘will’ the ‘Will of Hashem , so that Hashem will make His ‘Will’ the ‘will’ of the one praying and answer his prayer for rain. The rabbis of the generation knew that Choni was always able to cause the rain to fall with his supplications. During a year of drought they sent him a message to request rain. Choni took his staff and drew a circle around himself, in the sand. He then swore that he would not leave the circle until rain fell. (The sages say he is called HaMa’agel because he drew this circle – ha-magel means the circle maker). In heaven there was a harsh decree of drought against the Jewish nation and Hashem did not want to give them rain. Yet, because of the honor of the tzadik, so that Chonie should not be bound by his oath and should be able to move outside his circle, Hashem brought down rain.
We see from this episode that a real serious davening is related to and demands a self made circle. When one faces the King of Kings פנים אל פנים and requests from Him help and salvation, he must first encircle himself with a wall of exclusive focus and concentration on Hashem, together will all the atoms in the universe, and reconnect to the source from where all existence emanated. Note that two times the word פנים symbolizing face to face with Hashem when davening, equals 360 degrees which represents a circle.
However, there is another deeper level of tefillah which is not relegated to a particular time or place but rather is a constant conscious devotional bonding with Hashem in every bodily movement, spoken word, thought and emotion. It is about deveikus with Hashem בכל דרכיך דעהו with all your ways to focus to know and connect to Him. Therefore one will find that the hidden letters of דעהו which are לית – ין – י –ו add up to תפלה including the word. Such an individual who possessed this deeper level of tefilla was Dovid Hamelech who said on himself ואני תפלה.
Besides the gematriah which transforms the wagon into a symbol of tefillah, it is also conveyed through its physical structure. A wagon is calledעגלה because of its wheels which are round and helps the wagon to move easily from place to place. Interesting about a 360 degree circle is that it has a beginning which starts with a dot, and at its end, the round line touches that very beginning where one started from. Therefore the circle can symbolize the journey of life from birth until death, from receiving the first breath of life from one’s creator up until one’s last breath of life when he returns his soul to the same creator. It also parallels every individual day of one’s life when in the morning Hashem returns our neshamah back to us and we say מודה אני לפניך until we go to sleep at night and we return our neshamah back to him with the words בידו אפקיד רוחי.
This circle parallels the function of tefilah in the higher level of relating constantly to one’s creator and sustainer. When one embarks on a task no matter how small it is, he must first connect to Hashem who is symbolized by the beginning dot of the circle. As he takes his journey to accomplish and to achieve his desires, one must make sure that he never loses sight of his origin in order that his journey will be able to be completed with the same life energy spirit with which he departed in order to draw his circle. This describes the madraigah of ואני תפלה of Dovid Hamelech and Yosef Hatzadik. Although they were both leaders of a country and a nation they were nevertheless busy doing Hashems’s work the entire day and night.
This is hinted in the gematriah of יוסף which is the same gematriah of ויפלל found in the passuk ויעמוד פינחס ויפלל Tehillim (106,30) which is a lashon of tefillah. This gematriah conveys that it wasn’t that Yosef davened many times a day but rather his essence which is displayed by one’s name was tefillah to Hashem 24/7 similar to Dovid who said on himself אני תפלה.
Note that Yosef is the only Shevet that has the letter samech ס as part of his name. The letter samech represents a circle just as the physical letter is shaped. The gematriah of יוסף צדיק is 360 degrees which defines a circle. This shows that Yosef in Mitzrayim was connected to Hashem all the time את האלקים אני ירא and the שם שמים was always on his lips.
Yosef sent to his father עגלות represented in the sanctification of the Mishkanto convey to him that all during his 22 years in decadent Mitzryaim he possessed the level of the ShemonehEsrai parallel to the Mishkan. The ShemonehEsrai symbolized by theMishkan is בלבבי משכן אבנה a ShemonehEsari of deveikus which exists 24/7 that is part and parcel of every limb and sinew of a person. That consciousness of Hashem is embedded in the fibers and materials of the Mishkan mentioned in the 18 כאשר צוה ה’ את משה .
Yaakov was looking for Yosef’s proof that insured that he for these 22 years alone in a decadent culture of Mitzrayim, not only survived spiritually, but he also thrived. Yosef revealed it to Yaakov through the העגלות which symbolized תפלה as it is the same gematriah including the word. Just as Dovid Hamelechsaid on himself ואני תפלה my being is tefillah, so too Yosef’s functioning essence in Mitzrayim was tefillah. The avodah of tefillah is not only setting aside a time and place to recite words of praise and asking requests from one’s creator. It is rather a constant state of a deep conscious connection and bonding with Hashem. Yaakov realized that through sending of עגלות Yosef was telling his father I am still the same tzadik as I was when I left your house. The reason is because I not only davened but my essence was tefillah the entire day and night with Hashem as my only focus and guide.