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A Dvar Torah for Parshah Chukat-Balak

Our Dvar Torah: What Does God Really Require of Us?

A Dvar Torah for Chukat-Balak: Numbers 19:1-25:9

By Rabbi Shlomo Nachman ben Ya'akov © July 03, 2020

The following is written in Pirkei Avot 5:

Whoever possesses these three things, he is of the disciples of Abraham, our father. Whoever possesses these three other things is of the disciples of Balaam, the wicked.

One with a good eye, a humble spirit and a moderate appetite is of the disciples of Abraham, our father.

One with an evil eye, a haughty spirit and a limitless appetite is of the disciples of Balaam,

What is the difference between the disciples of Abraham, our father, and the disciples of Balaam, the wicked? The disciples of Abraham, our father, enjoy this world, and inherit the world to come, as it is said: “I will endow those who love me with substance, I will fill their treasuries” (Proverbs 8:21).

But the disciples of Balaam, the wicked, inherit gehinnom, and descend into the nethermost pit, as it is said: “For you, O God, will bring them down to the nethermost pit those murderous and treacherous men; they shall not live out half their days; but I trust in You” (Psalms 55:24).

And concerning the Torah:

Ben Bag Bag said:Turn it over, and [again] turn it over, for all is therein. And look into it; And become gray and old therein; And do not move away from it, for you have no better portion than it.

Are you a child of Avraham or a child of Balaam? Its your choice. Each of us must individually choose our path. Will we embrace the Way of Torah and Freedom or one of the paths of judgmental hypocrisy, rebellion, and the slavery that such negative paths inevitably create?

In Parsha Balak some of the most glorious prophecies regarding the People of Israel and the coming Messianic Era are spoken, but by a heathen prophet, Balaam! Sounds familiar no? So many people today are preaching hatred, division, violence... but who is speaking for HaShem today?

Our planet seems to be going insane! Everywhere we look we see traitors, murderers, and deceivers of all kinds seeking to destroy everything we have created as civilized societies! Even babies in the womb are not safe from this murderous insanity! Everything appears to be descending into abject and violent chaos. There is no free and credible media anymore, only propaganda. The entertainment industry pushes the agenda of death and gloom as well, while the schools brainwash students into the ways of Stalinism, racism and Atheism. Where can we turn for truth, for hope, for a way out?

The words of God's true prophets remain true and steady even now! Instead of going to the streets and creating more chaos, perhaps we should stay home and read the Holy Scriptures and prepare for what is coming! If only we would read and implement their sublime teachings we could, even now, achieve Shalom, Peace.

But alas the prophets also say most of us wont do this.

So many of the prophecies are literally coming true before our very eyes! Those with understanding watch in amazement as HaShem prepares the world for what comes next! But the rest run to and fro like diseased and maddened animals without direction. And the thing is... the solution to all this chaos is so simple! Nonetheless humanity races on towards self-inflicted doom, like moths to a flame, as the holy prophets foretold. Murderous and Suicidal times these are! Both among the Jews and non-Jews alike. And yet still, [Sigh] Am Y'israel Chai! HaShem upholds the Covenant He made with our forbearers. He will not abandon us even as the fires of Magog begin to spark!

In this week's Haftarah Micah haNavi clarifies the Way of the Children of Avraham: “God has told us, my fellow mortals, what is good, and what the Lord demands of us; only to do justice, to love loving-kindness, and to walk humbly with our God.” This is Micah 6:8.

Only this.

But will we choose life or death?

G-d's Mercy and Will is to forgive us and to grant us life! To rectify us to Himself for Shalom! But we must do our part as free moral agents! We must desire Him and his Glorious Kingdom above all else. We must make teshuvah and return to the basis of who we are as humans, as Jews. To this end our beloved Rebbe Nachman of Breslov advises the following at Likutey Moharan I, 36. There he says, paraphrasing,

The remedy for lustful desires is to say the words of the Shema, "Hear O Israel, HaShem our God, HaShem is One," together with the verse, "Blessed be the name of His glorious kingdom for ever and ever." The six Hebrew words of each of these two verses add up to twelve, corresponding to the twelve tribes of Israel. By saying these words with intention (kavanah) we attach ourselves to the twelve tribes and separate from the "mixed multitude" or erev rav that went up with the Children of Israel from Egypt, that led them to sin against HaShem. This “mixed multitude” of desires derives from the "harlot woman," the "evil maid," i.e. from the yetzer hara. The Erev Rav seeks power and self glorification, not the Way of HaShem! The yetzer hara is the source of all lustful desires, the root of all bad character traits. It must be brought into submission to HaShem and His Derech through free will and the exercise of our yetzer hatov, our positive impulses.

When a person has even a single stray lust or desire it is sufficient to recite these two verses to vanquish it. However, some people are constantly plagued with lustful desires and find they cannot get rid of them on their own strength. They must bring themselves to tears and take on the yoke of heaven, begging HaShem for help. They should literally weep as they say the words "Hear O Israel" and "Blessed be the name of His glorious kingdom..." Such heartfelt teshuvah or repentance is required if one wishes to be freed from the negative influences of the yetzer hara.

This explains why so often, before a person can receive a new revelation of Torah, he is first tested in the crucible of diverse cravings. If he withstands the test and denies the demands of his yetzer hara, it is like 'breaking the shell before partaking of the good fruit concealed within'. In this way a person becomes worthy to receive the revelation as a true child of Avraham.

So, what does God really require of us? “He has told us, what is good, and what the Lord demands of us; only to do justice, to love loving-kindness, and to walk humbly with our G-d.”

Is this so much to ask?

We should know, understand, and internalize the Truth that HaShem our G-d is truly echad, one in everything!

Shema Y'israel Adonai Eloheinu Adonai Echad!

If one truly incorporates this fact into his or her life, with strong emunah, one will naturally walk humbly before the Beloved proclaiming:

Baruch shem kvod malkhuto l'olam va-ed.

Blessed is the Name of His Glorious Kingdom Forever!

Then there will be Peace. Not before.

May HaMashiach come soon and in our lifetime!

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