Ekev: Succah 13 - 19
Pitchforks and Prayers
Rabbi Elazar taught: “Why are the prayers of the righteous compared to a pitchfork? To teach us that just as a pitchfork turns over the grain on the threshing floor from place to place, so too do the prayers of the righteous turn the governing attribute of Hashem from Divine justice to Divine mercy.”
Rabbi Elazar derives this idea from the verse in which we see Yitzchak Avinu pray to Hashem for a child: “And Yitzchak prayed to the Hashem… because she (Rivka) was barren, and Hashem accepted his prayer, and Rivka his wife conceived.” The word for “prayer” in this verse has the same root as the Hebrew word for “pitchfork,” which begs explanation for their comparison — a comparison that Rabbi Elazar provides with his insight into Hashem’s Divine attributes.
Although farmers are certainly familiar with the importance of a pitchfork in processing their produce in an agrarian society, many city folk may unfortunately think of something quite different and negative regarding pitchforks. But the holy Jewish People know that this item serves as an image for a Divine analogy — the power of prayer for Yitzchak in his time, and for us in ours.
Although any prayer should be viewed as a call to Hashem for mercy, perhaps one of the daily prayer blessings in particular expresses the understanding of prayer being a tool for receiving Divine mercy: Shma Koleinu — “Hear our Prayers.” “Hear our voice, Hashem our
- Succah 14a