This week’s Torah Portion, Behaalotecha, contains the powerful words Moses offers for his sister Miriam’s healing. In five short, potent words, Moses pleads directly to God for Miriam to be healed from tza’arat, the skin affliction from which she suffers after speaking negatively against Moses. When he sees her condition, Moses cries out:
“El Na R'fa Na La ~ Please God, please heal her."
This remarkably short prayer is one of the few personal prayers in the Torah. Its brevity makes it unique from the standpoint of Jewish prayer and practice. In a tradition where the liturgy is typically marked by its length and thoroughness, these five words chanted in a service for healing stands out.
Moses’ plea on behalf of his sister teaches us that there is a place for focused prayer, with a few concise and well chosen words. Notice the clear formula. We directly address the One to whom supplication and prayer requests are offered–the One who has already performed miraculous wonders on our behalf. We humble ourselves with not one, but two expressions of please. And in two short words, the action desired.
And so I leave us simply with that idea and ask what might be your own version of the same kind of prayer? If you feel a deep sense of urgency about something, and need Divine help, what five words, using that same pattern would you offer up? May our prayers be answered. Amen.