Found In Contempt
By Rabbi Label Lam
How can I curse? G-d has not cursed? How can I anger? G-d is not
angry. (Bamidbar 23:8 )
Would you like to be loved by G-d? Guaranteed and without much effort!?
Wouldn’t that be nice?! How do you do it? Let’s take a lesson from
Bilaam, about what not to do, like those old knife throwing shows with the
disclaimer on the screen, “Don’t you kids at home try this!”
If it wouldn’t have been so tragic it might be comical watching Bilaam and
Balak teaming up to curse those that “G-d has not cursed”. How can one go
against G-d, is this, or any instance? It’s the ultimate exercise in
futility. Bilaam attempts the impossible. Like a passenger trying to push
against the back of the plane to slow it down or reverse the direction so
he foolishly hires himself out to curse the Jewish People.
A young man I know very well went out with his wife and a few other young-
couples years ago, to eat a slice of pizza together in Brooklyn and attend
a lecture by Rabbi Avigdor Miller ztl. At the end of the first half of
his presentation he would open up for questions. Some of the questions
were on papers that had been passed to front, perhaps to retain some
anonymity or remove inhibitions on the part of the questioner.
This young man had been in a quiet but intense personal war with another
Jew and was very much bothered by the episode so he sent forward a
question which expressed his frustration and then some. How surprised he
was when he heard the Rabbi reading, from amongst the many slips of paper
his question, “What if you hate another Jew?” Rabbi Miller paused for a
brief moment and answered flatly, “You should know that G-d hates you!”
The words entered him like a sword. The rest of the night he was unusually
silent and less sociable. People wondered what was bothering him so. It
took years for him to reveal the incident even to his wife and to realize
the value of that potent encounter with a terrible truth.
Moshe Chaim Lutzato in The Mesilas Yesharim writes words that not only the
rest of the world would be well advised to pay heed to but we too, “The
Holy One Blessed Be He only loves those who love (the People of) Israel
and to the extent that a person grows in his love for (The People of)
Israel, so The Holy One Blessed One Be He increases His love for him.
Rabeinu Yona recommends in Shaarei Teshuvah: “When one stands amongst his
people and speaks with his friends he should contemplate and understand
and take great care that all that escapes his mouth should be to sanctify
HASHEM with his words and to speak in favor of His service and to praise
His Awesomeness and to compliment those who serve and fear Him. And so he
will merit with his private thoughts and the mere expression of his lips
without any effort or action a profoundly great merit that reaches all the
way to the heavens…”
Unfortunately there are still many today, and they seem to be growing in
number and temerity devoting significant energies to following and
fulfilling the futile art of their failed mentor Bilaam. We are to be
comforted by the knowledge that through their-own condemning words and
attitudes they themselves are found in contempt.
Text Copyright © 2004 by Rabbi Label Lam and Torah.org.