In Memoriam of Mr. David M. Warren (Menachem Dovid ben Harav
Midrash Rabba (Shemot Rabba
21:4, compilation of Talmudic Aggada – homiletic, 400 CE – 600
CE) explains that when a poor man approaches his fellow for
help, he is ignored. However, if a rich person were to approach
him, he would immediately listen and accept his words. But G-d
is different. All are equal and listened to equally, as it says
in Psalms (68:3; King David 1040 BCE – 970 BCE) "Listener of
Prayer, to You (G-d) all flesh comes."
The Midrash Rabba proves its
point by comparing the prayer of Moses with the prayer of a
destitute man. By Moses, it is written, "a Prayer by Moses, a
man of G-d" (Psalms 90:1). By the destitute man, it is written,
"a Prayer by the afflicted man" (Psalms 102:1). The Midrash
Rabba notes that, in both cases, Psalms refers to both as prayer
that G-d hears.
This is further explained by
the Midrash of when the Jewish people were stranded at the Sea
of Reeds and threatened by the powerful Egyptian army. Some
called out to G-d in the form of prayer for salvation (see also
Nahmanides, Gerona, Spain 1194 – 1270; Exodus 14:10 -11). When
Moses prayed, G-d retorted "Why do you call to me?" (Exodus
14:15) The Midrash Rabba explains that G-d was telling Moses
that He had already heard the prayer of those destitute at the
Sea of Reeds .
The Yefe Toar (Rabbi Shmuel
Jaffe Ashkenazi; Constantina, Spain, 17 Century), commenting on
the Midrash Rabba, explains that the verse in Psalms (102:1) is
not only referring to a person who is destitute of materialistic
possessions and in need of salvation, but also a person of
wealth but is destitute of righteous deeds and needs salvation.
No matter the individual's
background, prayer is not a privilege given to only those who
are worthy. Prayer is a direct line to G-d, open to all.