MARATHON

Jewish Community Center

Opening Doors to Spirituality, Social Consciousness, and Community A Friendly Egalitarian Conservative Congregation

Shabbat Balak

Numbers 22:2–25:9
Candle Lighting Time 8:05pm

 

Summer time sang Porgy in the play Porgy and Bess “Summer time and the livin’ is easy.” I would like to share with you a devar Torah from Rabbi Abraham Twersky who teaches us what we should work at during the easy months of summer based on a verse in this week’s Torah portion, Balak.

 

He perceived no iniquity in Jacob, and so no perversity in Israel. (Numbers 23:21)

 

The Hebrew word amal here as “perversity,” has a second meaning, “toil.” TheOhr HaChaim uses this translation to give a unique interpretation to Balaam’s words: “he saw no exhaustion in Israel.” Balaam perceived the even when Israel devotes itself wholeheartedly to the observance of Torah and mitzvot, it does not exhaust them.

 

It is a well-known fact that when someone has an overwhelming desire for something, he may be tireless in his pursuit. We have numerous accounts of the indefatigable study of Torah of our great scholars. It was not unusual for them to stay Torah for 18 hours each day.

 

The prophet says, “You did not call upon Me, Jacob, because you became weary of Me, Israel” (Isaiah will 43:22) the Maggid of Dubnow explained this first with the parable, which R’ Mendl of Kotzk said it was divinely inspired.

 

A merchant alighted from a ship and hired a porter to deliver his merchandise to his home.

 

When the porter knocked at his door, sweating profusely and breathing heavily, the merchant promptly said, “Those were not my packages that you brought!”

 

The porter asked, “You haven’t even seen what I brought. How can you say they are not yours?”

 

“Because,” the merchant said, “I deal in jewelry. My packages are light. They never would have caused you to sweat profusely.”

 

The Maggid said, “This is the thought that the prophet is conveying. God says, “How rvfvdo I know that you are not calling upon Me? Because you become weary and exhausted with your praying. You may be just going through the motions of prayer. Praying to Me when I cause you to be fatigued.’”

 

Our devotion and prayer, our passion for Torah and her love for mitzvot should be such that we never tire in their performance. (Twersky on Chumash, page 332)

 

Use your renewed strength the summer time when the livin’ is easy to help us make a minyan every Friday night and Shabbat morning.

 

Shabbat shalom,

 

Rabbi Greene

 

 

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