The Jewish people found themselves at the mouth of the sea, with Pharoah and his army closing in on them. At that moment, gripped with fear, seeing no other alternative, they cried to G-d for help (Ex.14:10). “They embraced the expertise of their fathers” (Rashi’s commentary) — just as their Forefathers prayed, so did they.
But… did the Patriarchs only pray in desperate situations, as the Jewish people now did? Interestingly, the three instances of Patriarchal prayer, upon which the Talmud bases the three formal prayers of Jewish tradition, appear unrelated to any crisis (See Gen. 22:3, 24:63 & 28:11). Why was the Jewish nation’s urgent plea, in particular, considered a form of “going into the family business” of prayer at all times?
Perhaps the prayer of the Patriarchs, even at times of relative tranquility, was amidst the recognition that man is dependent on G-d at all times. We are truly helpless without G-d’s assistance. The key to turning to G-d at any time, whether calm or under stress, is to recognize the simple yet fundamental truth that we depend on the Al-mighty for everything. (Based on Daas Torah, R. Yerucham Levovitz zt”l)
Rabbi Mordechai Dixler
Program Director, Project Genesis – Torah.org