Posts Tagged 'Torah Vodaath'

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

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