Torah Tidbits

From Foes to Friends
Shabbat Parashat Balak
July 5, 2014 – 7 Tammuz 5774    featured-rabbi

From Foes to Friends

In our Parsha, Balak, King of Moab, sworn enemy of the Israelites, attempts to enlist Bil’am, the pagan prophet, to curse the people of Israel.  Fortunately, Bil’am’s attempt at cursing Israel is unsuccessful.  In fact, he ends up blessing Israel.

This parsha has always been a source of inspiration and hope for the Jewish people.  It reminds us that one day, our sworn enemies will become our friends – or, at the very least, our good neighbors!

It is hard to reconcile this teaching with the pain we are feeling this week as we learned of the brutal abduction and murder of three teenage Jewish boys by Hamas terrorists in Israel.

Eyal Yifrach, Gil-Ad Shaar, and Naftali Fraenkel, were on their way home from high school, some three weeks ago, when they were abducted and brutally murdered.  It took time, but their bodies were finally discovered this week and they were laid to rest side by side.

As a congregation, we offer our condolences to the families of these three youngsters, to their friends, to all the people Israel who mourn their deaths, and to all good people everywhere who joined us in praying for their safe return home.  And, we share in the sadness of the tragic news, and in the mourning.

In ancient times, the prophet Jeremiah lamented:

Summon the dirge-singers, let them come; Send for the skilled women, let them come, Let them quickly start a wailing for us, That our eyes may run with tears, Our pupils flow with water…

For death has climbed through our windows, Has entered our fortresses, To cut off babes from the streets, Young men from the squares.”
(Jeremiah 9:16-20)

And, though we acknowledge the pain, and share in the sadness, we also come together today, as a congregation, to lift up a message of consolation and of healing.

In the words of the prophet, Isaiah:

“..My Lord God will wipe the tears away From all faces…”
(Isaiah 25:8)

May we remind ourselves of the message of Torah, that it shall come to pass that our sworn enemies will indeed turn into friends – or at the very least, into very good neighbors – and that those who curse us, may well end up blessing us!

May the families, friends, and all people of good conscience, be comforted and strengthened by the knowledge that we shall not let the forces of evil undermine our commitment to life and our love of Israel, for ours is a tradition of life and of love!

I take this opportunity to wish you and your loved ones a very happy July 4th!  May the blessings of our country, and the freedoms we enjoy, bring us closer to one another in gratitude and in appreciation of all that life has to offer!

Shabbat Shalom!

Rabbi Gilah Dror