JUNE 25-26, 2010 14 TAMUZ 5770
“Like this time it will be said to Jacob and Israel, ‘What has G-d wrought?’” (Bemidbar 23:23)
On May 24 1844 Samuel Morse sent the first telegraph message in history. What phrase from our perashah did he use? The text of Morse’s historical message was the English translation of a verse in Parashat Balak. Bilaam said, “Mah pa’al Kel,” which in English means, “What hath G-d wrought (made)?” An appropriate message for the inventor of the telegraph to convey, in recognizing the true Source of his inventing prowess (Rabbi Ozer Alport).
The telegraph was the beginning of today’s communication explosion. What followed was the telephone, cell phones, fax machines, e-mails, texting, internet, etc. As Samuel Morse recognized, all of this is truly a miracle from Hashem. A person can send a message to China in less than five seconds. If it is true that this is a G-d sent power, let us use it the right way: in purity and for good things only. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah
As we read the story of Bil'am and how he wanted to curse the Jewish people, we can't help but be amazed at his determination. He first asked Hashem whether he could go with Balak's messengers, and Hashem told him no. Then he asked again, and although this time he was given permission, still his donkey stopped three times until the angel revealed himself that he was sent to prevent Bil'am from going. He still proceeded to try to curse the Jews, and every time he attempted it, it came out as a blessing but he still didn't give up.
From here we see the rule that if a person has a real will to do something, he will ultimately reach his goal. Bil'am persevered and would have succeeded had Hashem not turned his curses into blessings. Nothing stands in the way of a strong will. The reason we are not accomplishing what we want is that we don't want them strongly enough. This applies to business, to doing certain projects, and most certainly to spiritual endeavors. It is up to us to intensify our wills to accomplish. The stronger the will, the more we will succeed. Let's work on developing a strong desire for spiritual growth and we'll be amazed at the positive changes we will experience! Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Shmuel Choueka
“And the donkey saw the angel of Hashem standing on the road and his sword was drawn in his hand, and the donkey turned aside out of the way and went into the field. And Bilaam hit the donkey to turn her to the road” (Bemidbar 22:23)
The Midrash comments: “This wicked person is going to curse an entire nation which did nothing at all against him, and he hits a donkey to prevent it from going off the road and onto the field.”
This teaches us about the great lack of insight a person can have about himself. Bilaam, the wicked, is now traveling to go and curse the Jewish people even though it is against the will of Hashem. At the same time, when his own donkey does a minor thing against his will, how does he act? He is very angry and smites it. He was only thinking about how his donkey was acting against his will and was oblivious of how he himself was going against the will of Hashem at that very moment.
Whenever you become irritated at someone else for going against your wishes, use that as a cue to try to find ways that you are going against Hashem’s wishes. This way you will be able to utilize those otherwise irritating situations as opportunities for self-improvement. This is especially true when you shout at another person for not listening to you. If you would listen to Hashem’s wishes about how to treat another person, you would talk politely and respectfully to him. (Growth through Torah)
In all societies, people are taught to behave in a manner that will contribute to the well-being of all members of the group. Rules are formulated in order to achieve the goal called the “common good.” For example, most civilized areas of the world have accepted rules of the road. In America we keep to the right (except to pass), while in Great Britain cars are driven on the left of the road.
Some criteria cross all borders and are universally accepted. For reasons unknown to us today, red has come to stand for a negative. Don’t Walk, Stop, and No Smoking signs are red all over the globe. Green, on the other hand, represents freedom to move forward.
The signs we confront in our times on our shrinking planet have eliminated the barrier of language and replaced words with universally understandable symbols. Washing instructions on garments, warnings of potentially dangerous ingredients in a package, and road signs all have pictures rather than words to get the message across. People living in our advanced, sophisticated world have no excuse to violate accepted policies based on a lack of knowledge. The signs are there for all to see and to follow.
Our behavior in all areas of life is subject to requirements and restrictions. The source of the guidelines is the Torah. We must follow the rules both to avoid negative consequences and in order to function properly and achieve happiness. The signs may not be posted on the road, but they are posted in our Holy Book for all to see.
Ignorance of the law is no excuse. When we stood in the desert 3300 years ago, each of us accepted responsibility for the behavior and well-being of all others. Learning to read the signs and then adhering to their instructions is the responsibility of each individual for the benefit of all. Passing a red light is not only dangerous to those who violate the law, but to all others who may cross their path. (One Minute With Yourself – Rabbi Raymond Beyda)
A quick tip to boost the power of your prayer. Hazal tell us (Masechet Baba Kama Daf 92A) that Hashem loves the tefilot of one Jew for another so much that anyone who prays on behalf of a fellow Jew with similar needs will have his prayer answered first. A special service has now begun to provide people with names of others who find themselves in a similar predicament. You can call with complete anonymity and get the name of someone to pray for and give the name of someone that needs our prayers. The name of the service is Kol Hamitpalel. Categories include: Marriage; Income; Health; To have children etc.
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