Prophetic Vision and the Essence of HaShem

Parashat Re’eh

The opening line of this week’s Torah portion reads, “See, I present before you today a blessing and a curse (11:26).” The first word of the parasha, re’eh, is conjugated in an imperative form. Meaning that it is a command to do, to pay attention to, and “to see to” all the instructions G-d is setting forth.

Moshe does not just present Israel with a choice between blessings and curses. Moshe actually opens with a prophetic blessing to the Jewish people. The blessing is the hope that Israel would be able to re’eh – “see” beyond the blessings and curses. It is the prayer of Moshe that the Jewish people would not only observe the mitzvot of HaShem, but would be able to prophetically “see” G-d’s ultimate purposes.

To be able to see is to have vision. Proverbs 29:18 states:

Without a prophetic vision, the people throw off all restraint; but he who keeps Torah is happy.

Moshe is directly connecting observance of Torah with spiritual discernment and prophetic (spiritual) giftings. Walking in the ways of HaShem is the path of spiritual maturity. All of Deuteronomy is a repetition of the Torah, and this week’s portion is an even further condensed repetition. As such, the opening verse of the portion speaks of the importance of re’eh, “seeing” to all that G-d requires of us.

Observance of the mitzvot is an exercise in spiritual discipline. In doing the things G-d instructs us, we become more sensitive to the lifestyle of the Spirit. As such, it is the blessing of Moshe that by choosing to follow G-d’s instructions we will re’eh – “see” into the mysteries of HaShem. That is why the Torah concludes with the commandments concerning the shalosh regalim, the three pilgrimage festivals, when we are to appear before G-d – Pesach, Shavuot, and Sukkot. These festivals are known as mo’edim.The word mo’ed is a divine appointment. These are times when G-d chooses to meet with us. Times set aside for G-d to impart something within us. These are opportunities for relationship.

G-d’s ultimate purpose for us is relationship. According to the great Jewish philosopher Abraham Joshua Heschel, since creation, G-d has been in pursuit of that relationship with us. When we invest in our relationship with HaShem, and draw closer to Him by observing what the Torah instructs, we are choosing “to see” spiritually. Parashat Re’eh gives us the keys to establishing the very presence of G-d in our midst. This week’s portion guides us through the observance of kashrut, the dietary laws, the rules for offering gifts (tithes, offerings, and sacrifices), and for the mo’edim, as prophetic opportunities to understand the essence of HaShem.

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Food of Complacency

Parashat Eikev

Food: Something many of us enjoy … and maybe often a little too much. Reading through our Torah portion, Eikev, I thought about the great holiday dinners of Pesach, Rosh HaShanah, Thanksgiving and others. There is nothing like that satiated feeling after an excellent meal, where you feel like curling up on the floor and drifting off into a “food coma.”

When we are without food, we cry out to God like our ancestors did in the wilderness, wondering why God has abandoned us. We kvetch and complain without faith in God’s provision. And yet, when God does bring nourishment into our lives, whether physically or spiritually, we often momentarily thank HaShem before wolfing down our food, and again fall quickly back into complacency.

Judaism teaches that in all things we must bless HaShem. And how much more so in those difficult times, like when we are happy, full, and content after a wonderful meal? Torah teaches us that although we are commanded to enjoy the finer things in life, we should remember there are finer spiritual delicacies as well:

A person does not live by bread alone but on everything that comes from the mouth of HaShem. (Deuteronomy 8:3)

Many faith traditions have a custom to bless God before we eat. We do this in Judaism as well. However, the Torah emphasizes that our greatest blessing should come AFTER we eat:

You will eat and be satisfied, and you will bless HaShem your God for the good land He has given you. (Deuteronomy 8:10)

Hence, the mitzvah for Birkat HaMazon. When our natural tendency is to slip into a food coma, Torah instructs us to acknowledge God after we have eaten so that even in our satisfaction, we give thanks to our Provider. This reminds us that our true life source is not physical food alone, but HaShem, the Creator of all things.

Moshe links the command to bless God after we have eaten to God’s provision of manna from heaven. The manna was a spiritual sustenance that the rabbis recognized nourished the soul as well as the body. According to the Lubavitcher Rebbe:

In truth however, Moshe’s words are applicable now as well, because it is not the physical efforts of working the land alone that causes the land to yield produce. Rather, man’s efforts merely create a ‘vehicle’ into which God places His blessings, and it is the Divine blessing which provides us with sustenance. Therefore, even the food which grows from the ground is in fact ‘food from heaven.’ (Likutei Sichos 16)

As we daily eat and are satisfied, let us not forget that it is not by bread alone that we live. When those times in our lives arise when it is easier to just slip into a food coma, let us overcome those moments and use them as a vehicle for blessing God. This was the lesson of our Mashiach when he too encountered temptation in the wilderness (see Matthew 4:1-4). Instead of giving-in to simple satisfaction, he countered the Adversary with the exact words from our Torah portion.

May we also remember that we do not live by bread alone. As followers of our Mashiach, we are continually nourished spiritually as well. As we eat, let us give thanks to our Creator and for His daily provision in our lives.

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Love, Hate and the Greatest Commandment

Parashat Va’etchanan

Why do we read this parasha every year after Tisha B’Av? Thought we were finished with all of the pleading already? This week, we spent a hungry evening on the floor reading Lamentations, remembering the horrific tragedies that have beset our people on Tisha B’Av: the destruction of the First & Second Temples, our expulsion from England and Spain, the beginning of World War I, the Chelmniecki pogrom in Ukraine, the beginning of deportations from the Warsaw Ghetto, a terrorist bombing at a JCC in Argentina … Indeed, I thought we were finished with all of the pleading. No, the time has come again to read Moses’ famous last words, beginning with “and I pleaded.” In this portion, Moses warns of the consequences of failing to hold up our end of the bargain – observing God’s commandments. If we fail to hear and to obey, we will be driven out from the Land of Israel and become scattered among the nations. Why did our sages choose the Shabbat following Tisha B’Av for the reading of this portion?

According to tradition, it was the corruption of our people that led to the destruction of the Second Temple (see b. Yoma 9b). “Baseless hatred” is the buzzword that’s meant to describe our undoing, and seemingly characterized Jewish national life during the Second Temple period. But what is baseless hatred?

It seems awfully vague and wholly unrelated to the minutiae of Jewish life – laws regulating our food, clothing, work, study, marriage, child rearing (even bathing habits!). What does baseless hatred have to do with God’s commandments?

The greatest commandment, according to Yeshua, is the love of God and the love of others (cf. Leviticus 19:6). Hillel offered a similar assessment. When asked to summarize the whole of Torah while standing on one foot, he said, “what is hateful to you do not do to another. All the rest is commentary.” The commentary of Yeshua and Hillel seem to draw a correlation between one’s love for God and one’s ability to love others. If love of God and love of others are intrinsically linked to each other, then “baseless hatred” of other people would imply a failure to love God, as well.

Indeed, the phrase “baseless hatred,” or sinat chinam, is literally “the hate of their chen.” A person’s chen is the quality that makes her unique. The part of her that is betselem Elohim, in the image of God. To commit sinat chinam is to deny a person’s right to exist and to believe that person has nothing valuable to contribute to the world. Sinat chinam, then, is the condition and the action of ultimate arrogance.

If I assume that you have nothing of value to contribute to this world, then my thoughts and deeds make the statement that God doesn’t know what he is doing in creating and sustaining you. When I perceive a person made in God’s image as worthless and treat her accordingly, I violate the greatest commandment to love God. In violating this commandment, I may as well have nullified the whole of Torah.

Perhaps it is fitting that, only days after fasting in memory of the destruction of the Temple, we are reminded of Moses’ words warning us about the very behaviors that bring about these sorrows. We violate the whole of Torah if we do not love each other and act accordingly. And if we violate the whole of Torah, we lose our entitlement to life in the Land. The challenge of Jewish life is to find the chen within each person, no matter how distasteful they seem. In acknowledging the dignity of people who seem to have no valuable purpose in this life, we honor the ultimate wisdom of God and God’s confounding yet generous act of creation. To love others is to love God. This is the whole of Torah.

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Tisha B’Av: A Reenactment of Tragedy, a Glimpse of Hope

Tisha B’Av

Tonight begins Tisha B’Av (the 9th day of the Hebrew month of Av).

The day itself can be summed up in one word: Tragedy. On this day we remember many of the most tragic events in the history of the Jewish people which all took place on Tisha B’Av (or within just a few days of it).

Judaism is a religion of sacred drama. We don’t just remember, we relive, re-experience, and reenact events of the past. This is also true of Tisha B’Av. In going through the four associated fast days, and their accompanying customs, we relive the stages of destruction of the First and Second Temples and the loss of Jewish sovereignty.

The primary focus of Tisha B’Av is mourning. As such, the Halachah of the day draws heavily on the imagery of the death of a family member, walking through the stages of grief and sorrow.

Some events associated with Tisha B’Av include:

  • The 10 Spies return with a bad report after spying out the land.
  • Destruction of the First Temple by the Babylonians in 586 BCE. About 100,000 Jews were killed during the invasion of Jerusalem, culminating in the Babylonian exile sending many from the remaining tribes in the southern kingdom to Babylon and Persia.
  • Destruction of Second Temple by Romans the Roman in 70 CE, under Titus. Over 2,500,000 Jews were killed as a result of war, famine and disease. Over 1,000,000 Jews were exiled to all parts of the Roman Empire. Over 100,000 Jews were sold as slaves by the Romans, and Jews were killed and tortured in gladiatorial “games” and pagan celebrations.
  • In 132 CE the Second Jewish Revolt of Bar Kochba was crushed, and over 100,000 Jews were killed.
  • In 133 CE, Turnus Rufus ploughs the site of the Temple mount and builds the pagan city ofAelia Capitolina.
  • In 1095, the First Crusade was declared by Pope Urban II. In the first month alone, over 10,000 Jews were killed. The Crusades brought death and destruction to thousands of Jews, totally obliterating many communities in the Rhineland and France.
  • In 1290, Expulsion of Jews from England, accompanied by pogroms and confiscation of books and property.
  • As a result of the Inquisition in Spain and Portugal, in 1492, King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain issue an edict expelling all Jews from the Iberian Peninsula. Families separated, many died by drowning, and there was a massive loss of property. What was once a major hub of Jewish civilization was decimated and scattered throughout the Middle East, North Africa, and Europe.
  • In 1914, Britain and Russia declared war on Germany, beginning the First World War. Issues left unresolved eventually lead to the Second World War and the Holocaust. 75% of all Jews were in war zones. Jews served in armies on all sides – 120,000 Jewish casualties. Over 400 pogroms immediately followed the war in Hungary, Ukraine, Poland and Russia.
  • In 1942, the first of the Deportations from the Warsaw Ghetto to the Treblinka concentration camp begin.
  • In 1994, the deadly bombing of the AMIA, the Jewish community center in Buenos Aires,Argentina, which killed 86 people and wounded some 300 others.

On Tisha B’Av it is traditional to fast, observe the customs of mourning, and hear the book of Lamentations and other mournful passages read in synagogue. The service is also accompanied by special liturgical readings known as Kinnot.

Although in our day, Tisha B’Av is associated with mourning and tragedy, according to the rabbis, when Mashiach comes the day will become of day of rejoicing. As followers of Mashiach, it seems appropriate that Yeshua applies the imagery of the Temple to himself:

“Yeshua answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” -John 2:19

Tisha B’Av carries that hint of redemption. For out of the ashes of tragedy our redemption will sprout forth, and we will see the return of our Messiah.

May that day come speedily and soon! Until then … we wait, mourn, yearn, and prepare for that day to finally arrive.

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Words to a New Generation

Parashat Devarim

Deuteronomy is unique. Firstly, the book is a retelling of the entire Torah.

Second, as the Vilna Gaon notes, the first four books of the Torah were heard directly from the mouth of HaShem. Whereas Deuteronomy is Moshe’s recounting of the events at a later date. In the first four books of the Torah, HaShem is the primary speaker. In Deuteronomy, Moshe is the primary speaker.

Lastly, the book involves a different generation than the rest of the Torah. Meaning, the whole reason Moshe is pleading with the people at the beginning of this parasha is because it is a new generation about to go into the Promised Land. This is not the generation who wandered in the dessert for forty years. This is not the generation that left Egypt and was involved in the sin of the golden calf. Many of these people were not even born when the Torah was originally given, and if they were, they may not have been old enough to fully comprehend the impact of the giving of the Torah on Mt. Sinai. This was a new generation.

Many of us represent this new generation. There is a new land we are about to enter. As many voices in the Jewish world are declaring the demise of Judaism in America, we stand at the threshold of opportunity. We can either listen to the calls of those who only see the end of the Jewish community as we know it, or we can take hold of the vision cast by HaShem.

Deuteronomy is a voice to a new generation. It is a voice to us. You and I may not have physically stood at Mt. Sinai, but we did receive the Torah (Dt. 5:3). It is time to take hold of the Torah once again and step forward into a new land.

The generation of our Torah portion experienced the dying out of the pervious generation. We also do not have to look far to see Judaism diminishing among our parents’ generation. But it does not have to end here. If we are willing to look closely, there is a Promised Land ahead.

The great Jewish believer, Paul Phillip Levertoff once wrote:

It is the business of the Chasid to live now for the realization of this Messianic Age.

It is our destiny, as devoted Chasidim of our Messiah, to prepare the world for the coming of Mashiach.

We need to create communities that are focused on relationships, where people are valued for being created b’tzelem Elohim – in the image of G-d. We need communities where people are empowered to lead and to follow, and where leaders serve as guides, rather than as lone-rangers. We need to embody a vision of Jewish life that is infused with the power of Yeshua, and filled with the Spirit. We need to reclaim our identities as Israel declaring a corporate witness to the world of G-d’s continued unfolding plan for the Jewish people and the Nations.

There is yet a Promised Land ahead. Are you able to see it? And if you’re able to catch a glimpse of it, are you ready to help build it?

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Remebering Rabbi Betzalel (Barry) Budoff

1822372_1406469025.8947This past Friday night the Messianic Jewish movement lost another one of its great leaders. Rabbi Betzalel (Barry) Budoff served as the rabbi of Ahavat Zion Synagogue (AZS) in Beverly Hills (where I now serve as the rabbi) from 1980-1991.

Receiving the news of his death has been a tremendous blow to me personally. As I transitioned into leadership at AZS, Rabbi Budoff was very helpful in helping me navigate the transition and provided much needed encouragement and support. Just days ago we were together in Chicago for the UMJC’s annual conference discussing his coming out to AZS again to speak and my going to his congregation, Bnai Maccabim.

Not only did Rabbi Budoff serve several congregations during his rabbinate, he served as the General Secretary of the UMJC and worked with a couple prominent Messianic Jewish organizations. His leadership, pastoral care and contagious smile will be deeply missed.

This past February Rabbi Budoff flew out to celebrate AZS’s 40th anniversary and it was so wonderful for him to reconnect with old congregants and friends.

Jewish tradition teaches that it is a blessing to die on Shabbat and that it is a blessing reserved only for special individuals. Obviously, Rabbi Budoff was a special individual and now his family desperately needs our help.

Please join me in rallying around the family to help cover his funeral and burial expenses and to provide a financial cushion. You can donate HERE.

You can also read more about Rabbi Budoff HERE on the UMJC website.

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My First Review!

DerekMy friend and colleague, Rabbi Derek Leman, just posted a review of my new book … and a very gracious one, at that. Rabbi Leman writes:

The commentary is short and readable, with references to larger, more in-depth works by Richard Bauckham and Steven Kraftchick. The actual commentary on the twenty-five verses of the book of Jude runs sixty-six pages. Brumbach tends to give just enough for most Bible readers and discussion groups who want to get at meaning and essence without too much detail. Yet the references to other works, especially Bauckham and Kraftchick, make it easier for some readers to obtain additional information and opinion about the background of the book.

You can read his entire review HERE.

The book is now available through Lederer/Messianic Jewish Resources and will soon be available on Amazon. It will also eventually be released as an ebook.

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Organized Religion and a Zeal for God

decline_272870998Parashat Pinchas

According to a recent Gallup poll, the number of Americans who have faith in organized religion is at an all-time low. Only 44% of Americans today have “a lot of confidence in organized religion,” compared to 66% in 1973, when organized religion or church was the highest rated institution in Gallup’s confidence in institutions measure.

Did you know that organized religion continued to rank first in most years through 1985, outranking the military and the U.S. Supreme Court?

The confidence of Americans in organized religion began to change in the mid to late 80′s, when it fell below 60% for the first time. It has been in a consistent decline ever since.

One can also note the rise of large scandals and crimes associated with religious figures and institutions during this same time period, brought into a more public light through popular media.

A Healthy Dose of Skepticism

This may come as a surprise to some of you … but I am also sort of a skeptic of organized religion. I know … SHOCK … HORROR … And yet I am a rabbi. I am a bit of a skeptic because I know exactly how easy it is to use religion as a crutch … or to manipulate people … and how it can be used to take advantage of people in their most vulnerable times instead of being a positive force for change and assisting them on their spiritual journeys.

But it is also some of that skepticism that convinced me to become a rabbi. Because (a bit naively) I wanted to try to make a difference … and because I still believe that religion can have a positive role in our lives. My desire is to help re-infuse religion with the awe of the sacred … to renew that sense of “Wonder.” But to do so, we need to get our priorities back in order.

Spirituality vs. Religion

In many ways “spirituality” and “religion” got separated. We have all heard (possibly over and over again) the all too common response, “I’m just spiritual, not religious.” What people are implying is that “I feel connected to God, but not to all that binding legalism, manipulation, and control. “I’m a free thinker … and just want to seek out God in my own way.”

In my humble opinion, religion, and particularly Judaism, is failing our people … and failing the world. Although there are some great leaders and communities out there … we have largely lost our zeal.

Parashat Pinchas gives us a taste of that zeal.

י  וַיְדַבֵּר יְיְ אֶל-מֹשֶׁה לֵּאמֹר.

10 And HaShem spoke unto Moshe, saying:

יא  פִּינְחָס בֶּן-אֶלְעָזָר בֶּן-אַהֲרֹן הַכֹּהֵן, הֵשִׁיב אֶת-חֲמָתִי מֵעַל בְּנֵי-יִשְׂרָאֵל, בְּקַנְאוֹ אֶת-קִנְאָתִי, בְּתוֹכָם; וְלֹא-כִלִּיתִי אֶת-בְּנֵי-יִשְׂרָאֵל, בְּקִנְאָתִי.

11 ’Pinchas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the cohen, has deflected my anger away from the people of Israel by being as zealous as I am, so that I so that I didn’t destroy them in my own zeal.

יב  לָכֵן, אֱמֹר:  הִנְנִי נֹתֵן לוֹ אֶת-בְּרִיתִי, שָׁלוֹם.

12 Therefore say: Behold, I am giving him My covenant of shalom;

יג  וְהָיְתָה לּוֹ וּלְזַרְעוֹ אַחֲרָיו, בְּרִית כְּהֻנַּת עוֹלָם–תַּחַת, אֲשֶׁר קִנֵּא לֵאלֹהָיו, וַיְכַפֵּר, עַל-בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל.

13 making a covenant with him and his descendants after him that the office of cohen will be theirs forever.’ This is because he was zealous on behalf of his G-d and made atonement for the people of Israel.”

Pinchas had a zeal both for HaShem and his people … a zeal which we must have as well. But how do we do that?

What is normally our Haftarah this week (1 Kings 19:9-21) provides an answer. Elijah, who was running to escape the wrath of Jezebel, flees to a cave where He has a powerful encounter with God, and God sends him back to confront his fear and to realize he is not alone.

Lessons from the Haftarah

From the Haftarah we learn three very important lessons:

  1. Rather than run in fear, we must confront what we fear the most
  2. We cannot do it alone … when we are convinced, like Elijah, that we’re the only ones left … God reminds us there are others as well who will stand with us.
  3. We need encounters with God

Often we are like Elijah, and desire to run away from our problems. However, the lesson we learn over and over again from our Scriptures is that we must face and confront our fears! Like Elijah, if you try to run, don’t be surprised if God tells you to go back and face your fears.

Religion today has taken on a modern vs. an ancient approach to faith  – it largely focuses on emotion and does everything to “make you feel good” (it is soothing), verses actually enabling you to deal with the difficult tasks at hand. True faith is a faith that demands something of you!

Moses was also asked to go back to where he was exiled from. Yeshua said, “Pick up your cross and follow me.” In other words, pick up your tool of execution … and carry it … let it become your symbol of faith. You cannot be victorious when running in fear … and then make all kinds of excuses for doing so.

Each difficult task we face in life can lead to either victory or defeat. It is how we deal with life’s circumstances when they are thrown at us that will determine the outcome.

Another important message from 1 Kings is that you cannot do it alone. An important element of faith is to teach us how to get through the difficult bumps of life. We need support from one another … you are not supposed to do it alone.

When Elijah thought he was the only one left, HaShem reminded him that He had preserved 7,000 others who in their zeal for God have also refused to worship Ba’al.

God’s Pursuit of Us

We were created to be in relationship with our Creator. This is the essence of Judaism, according to Abraham Joshua Heschel. We need to rediscover that sense of awe and wonder in our lives. Because it is that relationship with God that gets us through life’s difficult circumstances.

When we think that we can exist apart from God we are only fooling ourselves. Our souls are longing to be fed, and yet we often ignore the hunger pains, and instead try to soothe them through other temporal means.

We are constantly bombarded on the path of life … we need others … we need a vehicle for HOW TO confront our fears … how to learn to face what scares us and hurts us the most. When we feel a desire to pursue our spiritual journeys alone, Judaism teaches us that we actually need each other, and that we need to be interconnected to each other for support.

Renewing Our Zeal

Although we can encounter God anywhere, and at anytime, religion is is the vehicle for encountering God – in and through each other. This is what religion has largely lost. It has lost its zeal which Pinchas and Elijah are praised for … a zealous pursuit of God and the well-being of each other. Organized religion has largely become a soothing mechanism to make you feel good about yourself rather than equipping you to face life’s difficult challenges. It has become a faith which no longer demands anything. Therefore, it has also largely lost its ability to become a conduit for a radical, life-changing encounter with God.

Is it any wonder why so many Americans have lost faith in organized religion?

Parashat Pinchas teaches us that it is time to once again be zealous. Especially in a world that no longer think it needs God anymore. It is time to rise up and be zealous, but with a zeal that comes from love, rather than false pride or judgmentalism. True love. For as Yeshua stated, they will recognize us by our love.

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Happy Independence Day!

We wish you and your family a very happy 4th of July, and leave you with a couple of inspiring thoughts on this Independence Day.

“Of all the disposition and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports … Where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths which are the instruments of investigation in courts of justice? And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion.”

-President George Washington (Farewell Address)

“Our G-d and G-d of our ancestors: We ask Your blessings for our country, for its government, for its leaders and advisor, and for all who exercise just and rightful authority. Teach them insights from Your Torah, that they may administer all affairs of state fairly, that peace and security, happiness and prosperity, justice and freedom may forever abide in our midst … May this land under Your providence be an influence for good throughout the world, uniting all people in peace and freedom and helping them to fulfill the vision of Your prophet: “Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they experience war anymore.” And let us say: Amen.

-“A Prayer for our Country,” Siddur Sim Shalom

 

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A Talking Donkey?

Parashat Balak

Parashat Balak speaks of a non-Jewish prophet (Bilaam) who was hired to curse the people of Israel. Multiple times Bilaam attempted to curse Israel, and each time G-d caused him to speak a blessing instead of a curse.

In the middle of the parasha, Bilaam sets off on his donkey in another attempt to curse Israel. However, a strange thing happened. G-d sent an angel to bar the way of Bilaam. Upon seeing the Malach HaShem, the Angel of HaShem blocking its path, three times the donkey refrained from continuing and each time Bilaam beat the donkey. After the third time, G-d enabledthe donkey to speak, responding, “What is it I have done to you that you beat me these three times? (Num. 22:28)” It was not until G-d enabled Bilaam to see the Malach HaShem that Bilaam truly realized what was happening.

So what can we learn from this? Often many of us are like Bilaam. For one reason or another we become caught up in our own desires, blind to G-d’s purposes, and to the needs of the community around us. And when anyone or anything attempts to keep us from doing something in pursuit of those desires, we beat them too. So in the end, we are hurting not only ourselves, but those around us without any consideration.

And yet, other times in life we feel like the donkey. We are working so hard to do the right thing, and to avoid the entrapments along life’s path. However, it seems life just keeps beating us and beating us despite our best attempts. Like the donkey in the parasha, many of us often feel like screaming out, “Why do you continue to beat me?”

In either situation, we are letting our circumstances get the best of us. When we lose faith, lose hope, and lose sight of where HaShem is leading us, we end up getting beaten down by the world around us. We need to be people of clear vision. After all, the book of Mishlei (Proverbs) states, “Trust in HaShem with all of your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge G-d, and G-d will make your path straight (3:5-6).”

May all of us be blessed to truly listen and follow G-d’s path for our lives. May we be followers of HaShem’s Torah, and heralds of the message of Messianic redemption. May we no longer kick against the goads, lost and beaten down by our own misguided desires. Rather, may each of us merit a prophetic vision for our unique purpose, and may we all witness the fullness of Israel in Messiah Yeshua.

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