This week’s Parsha is Parshas Beshalach. In this Parsha we read of the crossing by the Jews of the Sea of Reeds. After Pharaoh let the Jewish people leave Egypt, he regretted his decision and chased after them with a mighty army. They caught up to the Jews at the edge of the sea, where the Jews stood totally surrounded between Pharaoh’s army and the sea. When Pharaoh and his army came close to the Jewish people, the Torah uses the words Pharaoh Hikriv, and Pharaoh brought close. The Medrash is bothered by the word hikriv, which means to bring others close. It should have said UPharaoh Korav, which means Pharaoh brought himself close. The Medrash explains that Pharaoh did bring others close; This is because Pharaoh brought the Jews close to Hashem. When the Jews saw themselves surrounded and in such a hopeless predicament, they poured out their hearts to Hashem in prayer. They attained a level of closeness to Hashem that they never would have attained otherwise. The Medrash compares this to a story of a King who rescued a princess from robbers. She called out to him for help, and he managed to rescue her. He married her, but for a long time she did not say anything to him. Finally one day he asked the robbers to frighten her again, so she would call out to him again. So, too, Hashem awaits for us to open our hearts and pray to Him. If we fail to do so, he sends someone like Pharaoh to bring us closer to Him, and to arouse us to praise to Him.
Rav Chatzkel Levinstein comments that there is a very important lesson regarding prayer in this Medrash. We must not mistaken our understanding of prayer to be merely a way to save ourselves from bad predicaments. This is incorrect. Not the prayer is a medium to get the results we want, rather our predicaments are a medium for us to pray and get closer to Hashem. Hopefully the better we are at coming close to Hashem, the less He will have to arouse us with various mediums to come close to Him.