When the meraglim, the spies, went to check out Eretz Yisroel, Kalev made a personal detour. He traveled to Chevron to pray at the me’oros hamachpelah, where the Avos and Imahos are buried. Rashi explains that Kalev felt it was urgent for him to ask the Patriarchs and Matriarchs to intercede on his behalf so that he should not be tempted to follow the council of the other spies.
From this behavior, we learn a fundamental lesson. It is proper and advisable to pray to Hashem to be saved from an oncoming temptation or challenge. A simple example of this would be to ask Hashem to help us not lose our temper during the pressures of erev Shabbos or erev Yom Tov. Another example is to ask Hashem that when you are packing to go to the mountains for the summer, a highly stressed time, you shouldn’t lose your cool.
We must realize that this is not the normal way we think. Most of us pray in reaction. If we don’t feel well, G-d forbid, we ask Hashem to heal us. If we have a business setback, we ask Hashem to aid us. If we feel depressed, we pray to Hashem to cheer us up. While this is fine, there is a more advanced type of prayer and that is to pray in anticipation.
As the friends of Iyov said to him, “Hayaroch shuacha shelo batzar – Did you arrange your prayers before your distress?” The Gemara teaches us in Masechtas Shabbos, “L’olam yivakeish adam shelo yecheleh – A person should always pray not to become sick.” Indeed, Rabbeinu Bachya says that the bracha “Refa’einu Hashem” in the Shemone Esrei is a tefillah that asks Hashem to prevent us from getting sick.
Kalev adds another dimension: That we should have the foresight to anticipate impending challenges and pray beforehand to succeed at overcoming them. Thus, it would be appropriate for a person to pray not to talk during davening or, when going amongst a group of people, to ask Hashem that one should not succumb to speaking or listening to lashon hara.
Moshe Rabbeinu adds yet another dimension to this approach to prayer. He prayed on behalf of someone else, namely, that Yehoshua shouldn’t succumb to a challenge. Moshe asked Hashem, “K-a hoshi’acha mei’atzas meraglim,” that Hashem should save Yehoshua from being influenced by the wiles of the spies. We see from this that one can pray on behalf of another person. So, for example, a parent can ask Hashem that their child should be spared from the temptations of the internet, and a grandparent can implore Hashem that their grandchild should not fall in with the wrong crowd.
In general, Hashem is pleased when we use foresight in our prayer. As the Gemara teaches us in Masechtas Berachos, “Al zos yispallel kol chosid l’eis m’tzoh – “For this every person should pray towards the time of finding.” The Gemara explains: From a young age one should begin praying to find a worthy mate, a good chavrusa, and even as far in advance as when the time comes, to have an easy death and a respectable burial. Chazal tell us, “Eizehu chacham? Haro’eh es hanoled – Who is wise? He or she who can see in advance.” Kalev and Moshe are teaching us to use this talent successfully in the art of prayer.
In the merit of enhancing our communication with Hashem, may He bless us with long life, good health, and everything wonderful.