Balaam, the non-Jewish prophet who was sent by Balak, King of Moav, to curse the Jewish people, looked over the encampment of the Israelites in the desert in ancient times and was moved to say: “Ma Tovu…” [How lovely are your dwellings, Jacob; your sanctuaries, people of Israel].
Nowadays, these powerful words of blessing appear in almost all siddurim [prayer books] as an introduction to our daily prayers. And, they are often incorporated as a popular “decoration” in many synagogues around the world.
And, I feel the same way about our congregation. We are blessed with a wonderful congregation and with a lovely sanctuary. And, we are all looking forward to praying together in person in our sanctuary as soon as possible. But, above all, we are dedicated to the principles of Jewish living that form the true life-blood of our people.
In our Sages minds, despite the fact that Balaam blessed our people with very powerful words of blessing, it is Abraham who remains our role model for Jewish life and values.
In comparing Balaam and Abraham, our Sages said that a person who possesses a generous spirit, a humble soul, and a modest appetite is a disciple of our patriarch, Abraham. One who possesses the opposite characteristics of a grudging spirit, an arrogant soul, and an insatiable appetite is a disciple of Balaam, the wicked!
As I look over our congregation, I believe that I see within our wonderful congregation and within our lovely sanctuary’s walls, many people who are true disciples of Abraham!
I look forward to seeing many of you at services, at events, and at celebrations, as we move into a new era of growth. I look forward to enjoying a true and renewed spiritual flourishing of the best values of Jewish tradition in our area, and beyond. I look forward to moving ahead, together, as a people who are truly disciples of Abraham. Ma Tovu. How lovely are your dwellings, Jacob, your sanctuaries, people of Israel.
Rabbi Gilah Dror
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