The passuk states, “עשה לך שרף ושים אותו על נס והיה כל הנשוך וראה אותו וחי, make for yourself a serpent and place it on the pole, and it will be whoever was bitten will see it and live.” The Mishnah asks, does a snake kill or make live? Rather, when Yisrael were gazing upwards towards Hashem and subjugating their hearts to their Father in shamayim, they were healed, if not they deteriorated. Similarly the passuk states, “והיה כאשר ירים משה ידו וגבר ישראל וכאשר יניח ידו וגבר עמלק, and it was when Moshe raised up his hands, Yisrael would be victorious and when he rested his hands, Amalek would be victorious.” The Mishnah asks, do Moshe’s hands cause them to win the battle or cause them to lose the battle? Rather, as long as Yisrael were gazing upwards and subjugating their hearts to their Father in shamayim they would be victorious, if not they would lose.
The Tosfos Yom Tov explains that by the battle against Amalek, Moshe Rabbeinu did not raise up his hands for himself, to be able to daven, and to subjugate his own heart to Hashem. Rather he raised up his hands in order to show Yisrael to gaze upwards and subjugate their hearts to Hashem and concentrate on davening to Hashem. This is similar to the snake which was placed on the pole for everyone to see and cause them to daven to Hashem to be healed. The Ra’av adds that both the snake and the war against Amalek were dependent on כוונה, intent of the heart, and subjugating oneself to Hashem.
The Yachin explains that the war against Amalek involves davening in order to be successful and win over the enemy, while the snake involves davening in order to be saved from affliction, in this case the burning serpents. We learn from both that davening helps to save from affliction and to conquer enemies.
The passuk states that Hashem sent fiery serpents which bit the nation, and it states, “והיה כל הנשוך, and it will be all that will be bitten.” Rashi explains this includes even a dog or donkey’s bite would cause a person from Yisrael to deteriorate and die, however the snake’s bite would cause death quicker.
One passuk states, “וראה אותו וחי and one would see it and exist,” while another passuk states, “והביט אל נחש הנחשת וחי and he would gaze at the copper snake and he would exist.” Rashi explains seeing was enough to heal those who were bitten by any animal other than a snake. However those who were bitten by the snake needed to gaze with intent in order to be healed. Both groups of people, though, needed to daven and repent to heal their type of bite.
May we concentrate and direct our davening to Hashem, and be zoche to success and protection.