[Background: Rashi has explained the oath “not to force the end” as a prohibition on excessive prayer for the redemption. This is difficult to understand for three reasons: it leaves us without guidelines as to how much is too much (beginning of Siman 24), it is not how the Midrash explains this same oath (middle of Siman 24) and praying does not indicate any lack of faith (Siman 25).]
According to the above, since all the Midrashim and the Targum Yonasan were well known to Rashi, as is evident from the fact that he quotes them in countless places, and all these sources understand the oath to prohibit physical action toward redemption, such as that of the Bnei Ephraim, Ben Koziva and other false messiahs, what prompted Rashi to invent a new explanation of the oath, not found in the words of the Sages, that the oath prohibits excessive prayer? This is especially difficult since, as we have said, there is a tremendous difference between action and prayer.
Furthermore, the Maharal of Prague in his work Netzach Yisroel, Chapter 24, follows Rashi’s explanation that the oath refers to prayer, yet he says later that the words of the Midrash “He made them swear in a generation of martyrdom” mean that the Jewish people may not violate the oath even if the gentiles torture them, G-d forbid, as in the generation of martyrdom, when they combed their flesh with iron combs, and even if they threaten to kill them with painful torture, may G-d spare us. And he concludes with the words, “we must understand this.”
Now, if violating the oath means praying excessively, how could the gentiles force us to pray? Prayer is not mouthing words; it requires devotion of the heart. There is no way to force someone to think and direct his heart to Hashem. Thus, the Maharal must be talking about a case when the gentiles force us to take action to end the exile. It must be that the Maharal understood the oath not to “force the end” as prohibiting human action to leave exile before the proper time. In fact, he explicitly writes so: “That they should not go out of the exile and the subjugation.” This follows the Rambam, the Midrashim and the Targum Yonasan.
Earlier he quotes Rashi’s explanataion that it refers to prayer, so it must be he held both are true – the oath includes both action and prayer. But if so, why did the Maharal leave out any mention of action at the beginning? Why did he quote only Rashi?
And as we asked earlier (Siman 25), what is Rashi’s source for saying that praying too much for the redemption is such a severely punishable offense? And what is the definition of “too much”?