Distraction barrier

After leaving Egypt, the people of Israel found themselves trapped between Pharaoh’s pursuing army and the Sea of Reeds. However, “God said to Moses, ‘Why do you cry out to me? Speak to the people of Israel and have them go forward!'”

Rabbenu Ephraim points out that the final letters of the Hebrew words “mah teetz’ak eilai daber” (Why do you cry out to me, speak) form the word HAKIR – the wall. This alludes to the practice of standing directly in front of a wall when praying.

We see this when the prophet Isaiah told King Hezekiah that his life was about to end. “Then he turned his face to the wall and prayed to Hashem”. (2 Kings 20:2, Isaiah 38:2) Rabbi Dovid Cohen points out that our practice of standing before a wall is to help us block out distractions when praying. You would think that if anyone didn’t need any help in being focused in his prayers, it would have been Hezekiah at that time. He had just been handed a death sentence. It would be hard to imagine that in the middle of pleading for his life, his mind would be distracted by thoughts of whether or not he locked the door before leaving the house. But that’s the nature of our minds. It is hard to stay focused and we need all the help we can get.

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