Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Mussar Drosha: Balak

Mussar for Parshas Balak:

In this parsha, Balak hires Bilaam to curse the Jews for him, however, Hashem makes sure that instead of cursing the Jews, Bilaam gives them great blessings!  One of the Berachos (blessings) which Bilaam gave us was 'Mah tovu ohalecha Yaakov, mishkinosecha Yisroel.', which means 'How goodly are your tents O' Yaakov!  Your dwelling places O' Israel!' 


I would like to share with you an explanation of this verse that I thought of very recently, actually, Baruch Hashem:  As we are told, Yisroel is the spiritual name of Yaakov, and it can connote the very spiritual Jewish people, such as B'nei Torah and Gedolim.  Also, as we know, a 'tent' is more like a temporary place, while a 'dwelling place' connotes a more permanent place.  But they both sort of imply a place of Torah study, just one more temporary and one more permanent.  So what does all this have in connection to the verse? 


Let me explain, as I believe that all this teaches us a beautiful Mussar lesson: 'Mah tovu ohalecha Yaakov' ('How goodly are your tents O' Yaakov!'):  'Yaakov' can refer to regular Jews, as we explained above, 'Yisroel', as we are told, is a more spiritual name for Yaakov, and can imply people such as Tzaddikim and Gedolim.  A 'tent' is a place for studying Torah, yes, but in this case, being mentioned next to a 'dwelling place', it connotes a temporary place - somewhere you are only in sometimes.  Thus, let us interpret the verse like this: 


'Mah tovu ohalecha Yaakov,' How goodly it is even when just a regular Jew sometimes goes to learn Torah ('Yaakov' implying a regular Jew, and 'tent' implying a temporary dwelling place),  'mishkinosecha Yisroel!', and when B'nei Torah sit and learn always in the Beis Midrash.  (Thus it is their 'dwelling place').   


One might think that if they are just a regular Jew, and they go to learn Torah only sometimes, the Beis Midrash being a temporary dwelling place for them, it is not that good or important.  But this verse is teaching us that it is actually very important, as it says 'How goodly are your tents O' Yaakov!'  Every single good thing which we do is precious to Hashem; He does not overlook anything.  Thus, even if you have to be working most of the day, and then you come home sort of late, and go just learn even a little, that is extremely precious to Hashem!  Don't get discouraged and think that your Torah is not important; it is very important! 


In fact, this ties very much in to a teaching of the Baal Shem Tov zt"l.  He taught that even when a man comes home, exhausted from a hard day at work, and says 'Oy, it's almost sundown', and they go and Daven a quick Minchah, the Heavenly Angels tremble from the holiness of that prayer!1  And one might have thought that this was a lowly prayer!  Now, this does not give us the excuse, Chas V'Shalom (Hashem forbid) to Daven a low quality Davening if we are able to do better, and are in a better situation.  But for someone who hardly has time to Daven (may Hashem help them get into a better situation soon) they must realize, their Davening is still very precious to Hashem.  If we truly try our best to serve Hashem, then He will be very happy.  It is, yes, hard to truly try our best, and one who says "I try my best" is almost always lying.  However, let us try to try our best, and Hashem will help us to do better and better.  But we must try! 


Now, let us turn to the second part of the verse, 'mishkinosecha Yisroel' ('your dwelling places O' Israel'):  A Ben Torah, who sits and learns all day is doing a very good thing.  Learning Torah is a very precious thing, and it helps to uphold the entire People of Yisroel.  These people must remember that, they should keep their learning up, as, just because they learn nearly all day, it doesn't make any second of Torah study less important.  Every single second of a good deed, of Torah study, etc. is extremely precious to Hashem.  Every single second that you are learning is another precious second.  Don't detract from this and waste time. 


We should be zocheh (have the merit) to take all these important messages to heart, and meditate upon them.  And may Hashem help us all to do this. 


And in the merit of trying to try our best to serve Hashem to the best of our abilities, may Hashem send Moshioch very speedily in everyone's days.  Amein, so may it be His Will. 


Have a great day everyone, and I hope to read your comment on this!


Refoel Berel


1 Four Chassidic Masters, pages 14-15.  A PocketScroll© book.  ShaarPress© publications. 

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