Photo of Rabbi Ettedgui

Parashat Balak - 5773

My friends,

This Shabbat we read about a very interesting and mysterious man in the Torah by the name of Balaam. He had a reputation in that part of the world that he could bless or curse people, and that his words always were fulfilled.

Balak, the King of Moab feared the Israelites and wanted Balaam to come and curse them. This week's Parasha tells us that G-d appeared to Balaam and warned him that he could not curse the Israelites because they were already blessed. On three occasions, at the urging of Balak, Balaam wants to curse the Israelites but instead blessings come out of his mouth. In his third oracle we find those beautiful words that were incorporated into our prayer books, and are recited upon entering a synagogue:

"Mah Tovu Ohalecha Yaakov, Mishkenoteicha Yisrael." - "How goodly are your tents O Jacob, Your dwelling places O Israel."

Of all the blessings that Balaam bestowed on the Children of Israel, only this verse, speaking of synagogues and houses of study, remained with us to this day. It is a message to us that our strength as a people lies in our steadfastness over the centuries to establish houses of prayer and houses of study.

We are proud of the warmth and welcoming feeling one finds by attending 'davening' and study sessions. It is a call to each of us to make every effort to join us on Shabbat and Minyan as well as for the Torah study sessions. Even Balaam recognized the uniqueness, goodness and beauty of our shuls.

Let's keep the Shuls busy. Come and daven with us.

Shabbat Shalom,

Avram