Windows of Opportunity
The Rabbis of the Talmud teach that “From the day that the Bais Hamikdash was destroyed, the Gates of Prayer were sealed.” Harav Shimshon Chaim ben Rav Nachman Michoel Nachmani zt’l writes in Sefer Zera Shimshon that the Gates of Prayer mentioned here are referring to the Holy Places in Heaven that are auspicious to accept our prayers called “Shearim” were sealed. However, there remains places and “windows” in Heaven that continue to accept our prayers, but they are not the as large as the Gates of Prayer.
Harav Nachmani explains, “This is what is referred to in Shir Hashirim, ‘He was standing behind the wall, observing through the windows, peering through the lattices’ (2:9). This means that when we are in Exile where there are no open “Gates,” yet there are windows by which Hashem looks to help His people. As the beginning of the verse testifies, “In His swiftness to redeem me, my Beloved is like a gazelle or a young hart. I thought I would be forever alone but behold! He was standing behind the wall, observing through the windows…” The Targum renders the concluding verse of Shir Hashirim, “Flee, my Beloved, from our shared Exile and be like a gazelle” regarding Exile and the role prayer plays in it. He elucidates “But in times of trouble when we pray to you, be like a gazelle which sleeps with one eye closed and one eye open, or like an antelope fawn which looks behind as it runs away. Just so, look on us and regard our pain and affliction from heaven above, until the time when you will be pleased with us and redeem us and bring us up to the mountains of Jerusalem”.