Shabbat Balak

Friday 3rd July Candles 8:11pm
Havdalah 9:06pm

Fast of Shiva Asar (17th) B’Tammuz is postponed from Shabbat to Sunday

Happy 4th of July

In the poetry that Bilaam the Magician declaims about the Children of Israel, he makes the remarkable statement:

“A people that dwells alone and is not numbered amongst the nations.”

What does he mean? The Hebrew words “U’Bagoyim Lo Yitchashav” Yitchashav, numbered, counted, regarded, can mean:

a) we are so small we hardly count
b) we are unique because of our Torah and our religious culture
c) we are special because we have survived longer than any other
d) we are not valued by other nations.

The fact is that all these possibilities are true.

We are not taken seriously because we are so small. In fact this should be grounds for admiration. Instead it is the cause of disdain and envy.

We are disliked because we reject other religions which only infuriates them.

We have survived despite all attempts to destroy us. And people hate us for this.

The United Nations simply picks on Israel above and beyond any other nation and anti Semitism remains a disease in the minds of so many human beings.

Was Bilaam cursing us or blessing us? In one way you might call it a curse and that's why so many Jews try to escape from their Judaism. But at the same time it is a blessing that we have survived and will.

The Fast of Tammuz and the three weeks leading up to the 9th of Av remind us of our failures. But we need to remember our successes too. Bilaam reminds us of that in his famous words “Mah Tovu Ohalecha Yaakov“ "Your tents, Jacob, are very good" Our tents, our families our traditions are good, they have enabled us to survive.