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Parshas Balak by Rabbi Baruch Lederman
Kehillas Torah, San Diego, CA 
www.kehillastorah.org.
SanDiego CandleLighting, schedule of services, classes, events: Go to
www.kehillastorah.org/shulweek.html
.

 

DVAR TORAH: Balak by Rabbi Baruch Lederman

Bilaam possessed powers of prophecy that not only rivaled Moshe Rabbeinu, they exceeded Moshe Rabbeinu. With all the spiritual grandeur that he experienced, it was only natural that he would devote himself righteously to the ways of Hashem. Yet we see that he did no such thing. He devoted himself to trivial pursuits and debasement. He even tried to harm the Jewish people.

This paradoxical behavior is made possible by the miracle of bechira chofshis (free will) that Hashem implants in us. Even though logic compels us to act one way, we have the choice to act differently. It allows us to make bad choices, thereby making our good choices that much more meaningful.

The Talmud tells us "Im ein ani li mi li" "If I am not for myself, who is for me?" , meaning that we can bear witness to the greatest miracles, we can hear words of inspiration Moses himself ; yet it will be fruitless unless we make the choice to be receptive. As the following true story related by Rabbi Mordechai Kamemetzky, Dean of Yeshiva Toras Chaim at South Shore illustrates:

Rav Yechezkel Sarna, the Rosh Yeshiva of Chevron in Israel once found himself in a taxi with a very chatty albeit equally as secular cab driver.

The obvious eminence of the passenger was quickly noticed by the driver who did not hesitate to share a bit about his religious life with him.

"Rebbe," he sad. "I have to tell you a story. You understand, I am a totally secular Jew. But a few years ago, I went on a wilderness vacation together with two friends in the jungles of South America. We were sleeping peacefully in the middle of the night, when suddenly my friend shrieked. He was being crushed by a giant boa constrictor which had wrapped itself around him. I and my other friend struggled to get it off but we were all helpless. Our friend was being crushed when desperately, with his last strength, he let out a cry. "Shema Yisrael Hashem Elokeinu Hashem Echad!"

Immediately, as if following a command, the snake uncoiled, slid off my friend and slithered away. The driver did not let the rabbi react as he just continued.

"My friend was so moved. That he took the next flight back to Israel, went to a yeshiva and today is a fully observant Jew who learns in a Kollel in Jerusalem!"

Rabbi Sarna listened in amazement and then he asked a simple question. "And what about you?"

Me?" replied the driver. "Why should I become religious? The snake did not wrap around me! It wrapped around my friend!"

-

Visit Congregation Kehillas Torah, San Diego, CA  www.kehillastorah.org.


 
   
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