Can the secret to a happy home be found in a story about an attempt to to destroy the Jewish people?
By: Rabbi Ari Enkin, Rabbinic Director, United with Israel
This week’s Torah portion is “Balak” (Numbers 22:2-25:9) and in it we read about Balak and Bilaam’s plot to destroy the Jews.
What’s so special bout this you may ask? There’s always someone trying to kill the Jews! Indeed, you can hardly turn a page in the Bible without reading about some nation trying to kill the Jews. Pharaoh, Amalekites, Edomites … and the list goes on. So what’s so special about Balak and in Bilaam?
The answer is that this attack on the Jews was different than all other attacks on the Jews. Balak and Bilaam realized that they could not possibly destroy the Jews with the sword. They saw that too many people tried that and failed. So they had a different idea: destroy them by cursing them!
And so it was. But one problem: Every time Bilaam opened his mouth to curse the Jewish people, blessing came out! The plan backfired big time! Instead of cursing the Jewish people, Bilaam (financed by Balak) blessed them.
One of these “curses” was the famous, “How beautiful are your tents, O Jacob; your residences, O Israel.”
There are a number of interpretations as to why Bilaam said this. One interpretation is that Bilaam was moved when saw that the Jews arranged their family tents in such a way that the entrance of one family’s tent was never directly opposite the entrance of another family’s tent.
This was to ensure a greater level of privacy and respect for privacy remains a sacred Jewish value to this day.
Another explanation was that Bilaam was taken with the Jewish homes because he saw a level of peace and family harmony that he had never previously seen. He was envious of the Jewish people for this. He saw that husbands and wives loved each other, children respected their parents, everyone seemed to get along. He had never previously seen such joyful homes.
Yes, Jews know how to keep a happy home, and don’t worry, I’ll reveal to you the ancient Jewish secret to a peaceful home. Ready? Here it is: God and Torah.
That’s right, a home and a family that attaches itself to God and makes the Torah’s values it’s values, is certain to thrive. As the saying goes: “The family that prays together, stays together.”
But in order to live by the Torah, you’ve got to study the Torah! Make sure that you, yes YOU, study some Torah each and every day. Make an effort to practice what you’ve learned and make it a part of your lifestyle. Teach it to your spouse, and your children. Pray together, grow together, and you’ll be happy together.
Bilaam was jealous, and with the current morality level of the outside world, many others are still jealous to this day. The Jewish people continue to thrive. Whether you are Jewish or not: take advantage of the secret I just shared with you. It will change your home, your marriage, and your children. The Torah way is the only way.
For more insights by Rabbi Enkin on this week’s Torah portion, click on the links below.