Posts Tagged 'Bilaam'

Parshas Balak | The Kollel Connection

Parshas Balak | The Kollel Connection

Bensalem Jewish Outreach Center

June 26, 2015 – Candle lighting 8:14 pm, Shabbos Ends 9:22 pm

Note: Times are for Bensalem; Check your local calendar for exact times in your area.

Rabbi Moshe Travitsky

Rabbi Moshe Travitsky

Welcome to the Kollel Connection.

We appreciate your comments and feedback.

The Kollel Connection this week is dedicated in memory of Joseph Levine, Yosef ben Laib Levine, late father of Adam and Alina Levine. Joe passed away this week, leaving behind an amazing legacy of doing and accomplishing many things for the Philadelphia Jewish community. May Hashem comfort Adam, his brothers Brian and Jonathon, and his sister Lindsey, amongst the other mourners of Israel and Jerusalem. May he be a good advocate above for Adam, Alina, Akiva, Aryeh, and all of his children and grandchildren.

This week we read Parshas Balak. In the Parsha we read of the episode of the  wicked prophet Bilaam, who had an amazing power and was able to curse those who he choose to, and inflict damage and even death to them. Bilaam tried to curse the Jewish people towards the end of their 40 year travel through the desert. When he came to do that, Hashem made a miracle, and instead of giving them curses, he actually ending up blessing them.

The Sages tell us that a person who has the following three characteristics is from the disciples of Abraham – a good eye (looking at people favorably), a humble spirit, and contentment with what they have. Whoever has three other characteristics is from the disciples of Bilaam the Rasha (the evil one) –  an evil eye, a egoistical spirit, and a desire for much more. (Ethics of the fathers, 5:23).

The words of our Sages are puzzling. Bilaam represents terrible immorality, hatred, attempting to annihilate the entire Jewish people, and even heresy in his relationship with Hashem. Yet, the Sages talk about flaws in his character. Isn’t this strange? Isn’t the point simple – the students of Abraham believe in Hashem, and serve Him, and the students of Bilaam are heretics and rebel against Him?

Rav Shlomo Heiman, the late head of Yeshiva Torah Vodaath in Brooklyn, explains a beautiful lesson from this. The Sages are trying to explain not only who these respective groups of people were, but what made these people into who they were. How could the students of Abraham, who lived in a world so full of idolatry, follow their teacher Abraham and cling to belief in Hashem? The answer, the Sages teach us, lies in the fact that they had good character traits. When a person has pure and good character, he will discover and live with the truth.

The same question applies in reverse. How could the students of Bilaam the rasha, who lived in a time when miracles were so open, the Exodus from Egypt and the ten plagues occurred, the parting and crossing of the sea, the revelation at Sinai, …. – how could they live lives so dedicated to immorality and wickedness? The answer, the Sages teach us all boils down to bad character traits.

The powerful lesson that we walk away with is the importance of character. The more we can perfect our character, the more we can address any flaws in it and perfect them, the closer we will become to Hashem , and the more loyal servants of Him we will become.

Wishing you and your family a Great Shabbos!!!!!!!! 

Rabbi Moshe Travitsky

To sponsor an issue of the Kollel Connection, please email BJOC@bensalemoutreach.org  Sponsorships are only $36 a week.

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Parshas Balak and the Tragedy in Israel | The Kollel Connection

Parshas Balak and the Tragedy in Israel | The Kollel Connection

Bensalem Jewish Outreach Center

July 4, 2014 – Candle lighting 8:14, Shabbos Ends 9:22

Note: Times are for Bensalem; Check your local calendar for exact times in your area.

Rabbi Moshe Travitsky

Rabbi Moshe Travitsky

Welcome to the Kollel Connection.

We appreciate your comments and feedback.

The Kollel Connection is dedicated this week in memory of the three murdered Israeli boys – Naftali Frenkel, Eyal Yifrach, and Gilad Shaar. May Hashem comfort their families among all other mourners of Israel and Jerusalem. May their killers be quickly found and destroyed, and may Hashem wipe the tears of pain from all our faces with the coming of the final redemption, soon and in our days.

This week we read Parshas Balak. In the Parsha, the Torah tells us of the story of Balak the Moabite king, who invited Bilaam, the evil prophet, to curse the Jewish people.  Initially, when Bilaam was asked to go and curse the Jewish people, Hashem appeared to him and told him not to go. Bilaam responded to the messengers of Balak who had come to get him, that he can’t go with officials such as them – hinting that he could only go with more prominent officials – although this is not what Hashem had said. Balak proceeded to send more important officials to get Bilaam, and Hashem this time allowed Bilaam to go, as long as he would only say the things that Hashem instructed him to say. At first glance, this seems very puzzling. Why would Hashem suddenly allow Bilaam to go, after telling him just a few days ago not to go? The Talmud explains that this is one of the sources for the concept, “the way a person wants to go, is the way Hashem allows him to go”. Bilaam knew that Hashem didn’t want him to go. Nonetheless, he still tried to get permission to go. If a person actively seeks to sin, although he knows that it is wrong, Hashem will allow them to do so.

As Bilaam is traveling on his donkey towards Balak, the famous incident of the donkey talking to Bilaam occurs. Three times an angel appears to the donkey, and delays its trip. One time the donkey is forced to stray off the road, one time it crushes the foot of Bilaam against a wall, and one time it just stops in its tracks to avoid the angel. Bilaam gets angry, and starts beating the donkey. At that moment, Hashem makes a miracle happen, and the donkey  begins talking to Bilaam.

The commentaries ask, why did Hashem make such an unusual miracle occur, to have the donkey actually speak to Bilaam? The Seforno explains that the reason Hashem did this was to arouse Bilaam to repent, as he saw that Hashem controls the power of speech. Rabainu Bachya adds to this thought: “It would have been right for Bilaam to have wondered when he saw this amazing miracle, that the donkey spoke… He should have realized that this came from Hashem as a message that he should not go to curse the Jews. However, because of his evil nature and his burning desire to go, he ignored the miracle and just responded to the donkey as one who is having an everyday conversation…”

The obvious lesson is that if we don’t react to events that happen around us, if we just go on with life as if nothing occurred, we are following in the footsteps of the wicked Bilaam.

This past week saw tragedy occur that should have shaken each and every one of us to the core. Young Jewish boys, in the prime of their life, were murdered by wild, cold blooded animals. As the entire Jewish people responded to their capture with heartfelt prayers and  tears, we now have to also respond to their murder with action. We talk not of the knee jerk reaction of terror. Certainly it behooves us to recognize our enemies, to see the animals who rejoice at the cold blooded murders of Jews, to appreciate what the PA and Hamas are in reality.  This all is true – but not enough. As Jews, we are obligated to react to events that occur, not to be like the wicked Bilaam who just moves on with his life as if nothing as happened, but to find some area of life – or some mitzvah – that we will strengthen in their memory. If unity among Jews was achieved during the two weeks that their fate was unknown, let us strive to promote that unity. If prayers and sincere cries were uttered from the depths of our hearts during this time, let us continue them.  If Torah study, or lighting candles for Shabbos was initiated because of them – let that continue. Let us hope and pray that we will witness no more tragedy and pain, but the comfort and consolation that will accompany the coming of Moshiach, soon and in our days.

Wishing you and your family a Great Shabbos!!!!!!!! 

Rabbi Moshe Travitsky

To sponsor an issue of the Kollel Connection, please email BJOC@bensalemoutreach.org  Sponsorships are only $36 a week.


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