This week’s music: https://youtu.be/89dCMMBEn2U
Please allow me a moment of reflection on a great spiritual experience. The beautiful feelings of the audience appearing and dancing in this video from last night’s “Acharit Hayamim Festival,” is just a taste of an evening which mamash taught us the value of being “tamim,” simple and innocent, not to judge and criticize and instead, to believe and see that we can join together, mamash united in Israel, connected to our individual and collective “simchah,” in joy, and happiness
All our lives we are waiting for a sign sent just for me. Wake up in the morning and ask aloud, what’s my job today? I ask myself over and over again throughout life, “what am I doing here? What was my soul sent down to do in this world? What is my one personal specific ‘fix-it” job?”
Sometimes the signs seem so clear, while other times they seem to be shrouded and hidden in story like experiences. No matter which, the bottom line is, I need to be looking. Looking out , looking in and listening to every sound which passes my way.
Bialm, the master curser , was sought out by Balak, King of Moav, to curse B’nai Yisrael. The one way they could think of to deal with Hashem’s glory and love for Am Yisrael was to expose our faults and lay it out in front of God , reminding Him of our sinful shortcomings. Bialm did not realize that this couldn’t work because regardless of our behavior, Hashem still held a Place of love for B’nai Yisrael. When push comes to shove,in spite of a child’s negative behavior traits, a Father still loves his children.
So Bilam sets out on his way, looking for that avenue where he will win the pathway to curse us. As he does, Hashem warns him you can go with those men( of Balak),” but only do that which I tell you to do” (Bamidbar 22.20).
The Slonimer Rebbe explains that Bilam is filled with knowledge but it was all ”outside knowledge.” He was the king of “klipah,” the outer peel. He knew your outside, the surface filth, the part of me that I invite in to my life to cause me to doubt. The “safek,” in me, the Amalek in me that tells me to doubt myself and my commitments. This is what Bilam was connected to. This was his area of expertise.
Perhaps it stands to reason then, teaches Reb Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev, that when Bilam then went out to meet those men, there was a change in God’s plans that he did not see. He was not looking for it because he already knew what he wanted to accomplish. He was wanting to outsmart Hashem, but as he looked only at the outside he was not able to see the signs that Hashem sent him. Bilam is riding on his “aton,” donkey. His “aton” sees the sign. ( Bamidbar 22.21-30). It sees an angel with a drawn sword blocking the way for Bilam to go curse the B’nai Yisarel. The donkey tries three times to warn Bilam and each time Bilam responded with a lash to his trusted servant. The donkey sees the signs, Bilam does not. So he cannot fulfill the command of God to “but only do that which I tell you to do.” Until Hashem reveals it all in front of his eyes and Bilam sees the angel with the sword in front of him (Bamidabr 22.31).
All our lives we are asking Hashem for a sign. Please tell me that which You want me to do. Yet when the signs come, something on the outside tells usnot to listen or even to not continue looking and searching.” Stop! Too much else to do in this crazy world. No time for soul searching. That’s the time to stop and look toward the inside. The answers are not in the “klipah,” the outer shells, the answers are on the inside of every one of us.
So as Shlomo would bless us, we need to ask Hashem for some new inside Torah.Torah that can change my life, help my fix and guide me to the Place that I really need to go.
How lucky are we that these signs are flashed in our periphery all over Eretz Yisrael. Wherever we go there they are. Just a few days ago while sitting by the side of a “nachal” brook, in the gorgeous “Galil Elyon, “ upper Galilee, our family marveled at the sheer beauty of Creation where were surrounded by. I found myself listening to the babbling talking sounds of the water when suddenly three men on a kayak are floating by. One of them calls out , “Abba,” father, . “Modeh Ani L’fanecha, “ thank you so much for creating this beautiful pastoral setting just for us. Wow! This guy is looking and seeing, so in full validation for us both I call out, “Amen!”
May we be blessed this Shabbat to accept the challenge of connecting to the everlasting “sign” of Shabbat,… “ot hee l’olam,” between us and Hashem and be able to see the opening of the gates which invite us to enter and experience with clarity, “kedushat ha’Shabbbat,” the holiness of Shabbat.