Published Date: July 06, 2020
This week’s music: Hodu
Thank God we are finally back together. After what felt like forever during this recent stretch of life, Jews all over the world will be reading the same Torah portion this Shabbat, Parshat “Balak.” In chutz la’Aretz you will be adding “Chukat” to “Balak” this week, and we will get to that later.
We have mentioned many times that The Slonimer Rebbe is quoted as saying that if you believe in The Holiness of the Torah then you must believe that it, and everything in it, is alive and happening today. The Torah is eternal.
What was going on when Bil’am hit his “aton,” female donkey, in the leg those three times? Bilam was a prophet, an agent of the satan, who since the time of Pharoh, was looking to find a way to defeat The B’nai Yisrael. Only he knew too well that the only way to defeat them was to be able to defeat Hashem, and that he understood, was not possible. So he goes to the next level and he is simply out to outsmart Hashem.
Bil’am is planning with Balak and his sorcerers. He is setting out on his scheme against B’nai Yisrael, ostensibly against Hashem. Only problem is that while Hashem clearly came to Bil’am and told him that if they call on him, he should go with them, on the condition that Bil’am follow Hashem’s succinct instructions on what to do. Bil’am woke up early “va’yachavosh” et atono,” and he saddled his donkey, and immediately set on his way, before he received instructions from God (Bamidbar 22.20-23). Rashi implies that he was trying to force his way on B’nai Yisrael and thus, on Hashem. It was at this point that Bil’am got lost in his own plan, his personal initiative and seemingly lost his ability to clearly see what God wanted of him. He could not see that which was clearly in front of him. Even his donkey saw the angel of God blocking the path, but Bil’am was preoccupied with everything unGodly. Each time his donkey tries to warn him by veering to the side, Bil’am hits him to motivate him to keep going on their journey’s path. The donkey absorbs three hits until Bil’am finally sees/hears Hashem’s warning. Now he too sees the “malach,” angel of God standing in his pathway (Bamidbar 22.23-31) At this point he realizes that Hashem is once again, standing in his way. His plan was already so in depth that Bil’am himself was wrapped in the reality of his scheme and therefore, was taking himself out of the truthful reality that was right in front of him.
Sad to say, but this is what often happens to us. Deep down we know that we are connected to Hashem, but instead of searching for that connection we find so many reasons to give in to our fears. Fear of losing control, of forfeiting our independence, of admitting that perhaps we don’t know as much as we think we do. In “Parshat Chukat” as it pertains to the ‘Mai Merivah, Waters of Rebellion,” we learn about this lack of “bitachon,” trust in ourselves, each other and God. It is the reason that Moshe Rabenu did not merit to take these people into the Land that Hashem gave them (Bamidbar 20.12). He was not able to see the ties of faith which were rooted in every one of the “Congregation of Israel.” The Slonimer continues and brings the teaching of his grandfather, there are times when thick clouds cover the light of “Emunah,” belief, which is akin to the light of the sun. Even on a cloudy day the sun is still alive and shining, only the clouds cover and block it’s light from reaching our eyes. This great light of Emunah is rooted inside of us. It is present all of the time, only we are too comfortable employing any one of our many tools that support us to shy away from our belief and full commitment to Hashem.
One of those tools that we love to hang our hat on is called, “hishtadlut,” my personal contribution of effort to any given situation in my life. The Slonimer points out that Moshe’s real sin at the “waters of rebellion” was not that he hit the rock, but rather, the reason as to why he hit the rock. He hit the rock because he did not believe in the ability of the people to have pure “bitachion,” trust in Hashem without any “hishtadlut” and accept the miracle of the water to come out of the rock by merely speaking to it. They needed “hishtadlut,” a second human effort to get the miracle going. Moshe thought that were simply unable to see and connect to their roots of “emunah.”
What about us? Can we put our trust in Hashem and know that He is the one who gives us all of our sustenance and income? The truth is that all of our “hard” work and effort may be such a minimal part of the reason for our success. It is up to Hashem and to what degree I allow myself to believe that He is sending me everything that I need all of the time. As it is taught in the Talmud (Tractate Taanit 2 b) as it relates to the fact that there are aspects of life that only Hashem holds the key to, “…in the west (Eretz Yisrael) it was said, even the key to “parnassah” (Sustenance) is only held by God as it is written, “poteach et yadecha umasbia l’chol chia ratzon,” open (from the word ‘mafteach’- key) your hands and satisfy everyone in need” (Psalms 145).
Nowhere in the world can this be seen clearer that here in Eretz Yisrael. The holiness of The Land and and it’s supernatural existence offers us a beautiful holy view of how life can be. All we need to do is want it and act in accordance with that belief. We are blessed to see the world on God’s channel, which in The Holy Land has the utmost reception if we just plug in with “bitachon”. That’s our password. I need to strive for the highest level of “bitachon” available to me every second of every day. There is no need for fear or worries in Eretz Yisrael. Fear only clouds the “emunah” and “btiachon” that we need to strengthen in ourselves and together on a daily basis.
I feel honored to often quote from many of the great Rebbes whose teachings I have had the humble privilege to study. One of the reasons that the Talmud gives for continuing the practice to quote these sources is because, “kol ha’omer davar b’shem omro, mevi Geulah la’olam,” one who gives over a word of Torah in the name of the one who said it, brings “Geulah,” redemption to the world (Tractate Megilah 15a). In addition we learned something important from many Chasidic Torahs and stories that we were blessed to hear from Reb Shlomo. Sometimes I simply need to give over the Torah of my heart. In thinking about the application of these deep teachings from The Slonimer, the thought occurs that when I am not afraid, when I trust, I am not constantly scheming and thinking of what my next move is, be it in business, friendships and /or family life, I am trusting that I can be strong enough to follow my will. I am desiring it to be the will of God. I realize that the more I plan on what should and will be, the more I lose the sense of ability to allow Hashem’s plan to enter into my daily life. The more I try to effect change outside of myself, the more clouds I am bringing to my life. The more that I live within those clouds, the harder it becomes for me to see the “or ha’emunah,” the light of my belief that is rooted inside of me. When I pay attention to what’s going on around me in God’s world, my awareness becomes heightened. All of a sudden things happen around me and the gates start to open up. At this point we can begin to realize that Hashem is the conductor and we are all just singers in the band. That singer gig may be my/ individual “tafkid,” my/your role in life, to help get me/you to the clearest point of realization as to what my/your soul was sent to this world to do. The more that I acknowledge and give permission for His plan to enter my life, the less I need to be doing stuff that simply can get in the way and cloud my vison from seeing His daily plan for the universe, which includes my life and the lives of everyone around me. “Bishvili nivra ha’olam (Mishnah Sanhedrin Chapter 4.5), The (this) word was created for me. I need to give myself permission to be connect to that world, it’s source, it’s holiness.
So I dream of the days ahead, as with God’s help, 100,000-1,000,000 members of “K’lal Yisarel,” will find their path to come and live together with us in Eretz Yisrael. The Holy Bat Ayin brings in the name of The Zohar Hakodesh, “the main attribute available to us to help actualize our merit to live in Eretz Yisarel is the character of “bitachon,” security. “B’tach Ba’Hasehm va’aseh tov, sh’chan eretz u’re’eh emunah,” Trust in God and do good, live in The Land and lead with belief (Psalms 37:3). This is what the sages are teaching, have trust in Hashem and do good and through this intention and behavior you will merit to inherit The Land and dwell in it with no fear.”
Together we can help each other have that “bitachon,” support each other in every way. We can all be, as Reb Shlomo taught us, “little Rebbes,” in a world where that leadership is so desperately void in our lives, by believing in and trusting each other and Hashem. Not doing so simply hoists further clouds of doubt into our lives. What we need now more than anything else is clarity. Clarity and strength of belief which will allow us to get to the next level. If, as Reb Shlomo taught, the original settlers and pioneers of Israel in 1948, carried the weight of the beginnings of The Geulah on their shoulders, then it is clearly up to all of us to pick up “Moshe’s stick” of leadership and use it as the tool to teach the world that “Hashem Echad,” God is One and His people are One with each other, Him and His Land.