On Prayer and the Possible

Rabbi Aviva Richman

Parashat Va'Ethanan

In Parashat Va'Ethanan, Moshe beseeches God. He doesn’t get his request. Interestingly, the sages peg this moment of prayer as the entryway to explore the meanings of prayer more widely, jumping off from the word va'ethanan to list ten kinds of prayer connected to different verbs and different figures in the Torah. Taking Moshe’s unanswered prayer as the lens, we are invited into an exploration of what prayer is, entirely detached from the question of whether prayer is answered. (5782)