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Our Voice is Telling

Our Voice is Telling

Shema Koleinu

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"שמע קולינו ה' אלקינו"
“Hear our voice, G‑d our G‑d.”

QUESTION: Instead of asking Hashem to hear our voice, shouldn’t we ask him to hear “tefilateinu” — “our prayers” — or “bakashateinu” — “our supplication”?

ANSWER: A king had an only son, whom he brought up in princely fashion, denying him nothing. He loved him, had him well educated, and when the boy grew up, had him wed to a lovely princess. The king hoped to have his son follow a righteous path and eventually rule the kingdom. However, the son did not follow his father’s advice. He associated with bad company, people whose goals in life were pleasures and the satisfaction of lust. Soon, he left his wife and became attached to other women. This caused his parents great heartache, so much so, that in time the father banished him from the palace. The son left the place of his birth and wandered from city to city all over the world. His clothing became tattered. The features of his face changed so that it was impossible to recognize him, let alone believe that he was once a prince.

Years passed. The former prince suffered greatly. He began to think about the causes for his exile and his great suffering. He regretted his behavior and decided to turn over a new leaf. He planned to return to his father and beg forgiveness, and after many difficulties he succeeded in reaching his father’s palace. When he approached the king, he fell to his knees, sobbing and pleading for forgiveness for the sins he had committed against him. His father did not recognize him because conditions had so changed his physical features. In desperation the son exclaimed, “Father, if you don’t recognize my face because of the change in me, surely you recognize my voice. My voice has not changed.” The father listened carefully and did recognize it. He had mercy on his only son and took him back into the palace.

So it is with us. We are the children of Hashem. He loves us, takes pleasure in us, exalted us above all people, escorted us under the wedding canopy, gave us the holy Torah that teaches righteousness. But we turned away from his commandments and were exiled from our land. The multitude of our sins has caused our features to change and become unrecognizable. But now that the Holy Days have arrived, we are indeed sorry for our misbehavior. We want to return to Hashem. We therefore exclaim, “Hear our voice, Hashem our G‑d.If you do not recognize our features, please recognize our voice because we are Your children. Spare us and have mercy on us and accept us in mercy and with favor.”

(רועה ישראל)


Rabbi Moshe Bogomilsky has been a pulpit rabbi for over thirty years, and is author of more than ten highly acclaimed books on the Parshiot and holidays. His Parshah series, Vedibarta Bam, can be purchased here.
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