15 July 2016

MA TOVU OHALECHA, YAAKOV


MA TOVU OHALECHA, YAAKOV
By Roy S. Neuberger


At a recent chassana, I saw an amazing sight. The chosson was standing under the chuppah with his arm around his father’s waist. I was extremely moved. 

You have to understand the context: the father was born in a different world, thousands of miles from America, in a culture we can hardly imagine. Here they were, father and son, in Jewish-American suburbia, at the son’s chassana. The son wanted his father to feel at ease, so he put his arm around him. This was the greatest moment of the son’s life, and here – under his chuppah – he thought about his father. This spoke worlds about who a Jew is. 

“Ma Tovu ohalecha, Yaakov… How pleasant are your tents, Oh Yaakov, your dwelling places, Oh Israel!” (Bamidbar 24:5) These words emanate from the mouth of Bilaam, one of history’s premier haters of Israel. But even Bilaam was forced to recognize the power of the Jewish home, the dwelling place of the Shechina and the foundation of our strength and the length of our days. When we do Hashem’s will, our enemies are powerless against us; their poison turns to honey. 

We saw pure chessed under the chuppah. I happened to be standing right there, but Hashem sees everything, and – because of such chessed – He turns our enemies’ curses into blessings! 

It is vital to remember this as our world spirals downward. 

Recently, somewhere in New York, I saw a car mount the sidewalk and park in front of a store. The door opened. A “frum Yid” emerged and entered the store. If I had not been swept along by traffic, I would have stopped and said something, but I am still suffering from this scene. 

My friends, do we understand our danger? To begin with, Dina d’malchusa dina … the law of the land is [binding according to Jewish] law.” (Gittin 10b; Nedarim 28a) But it is more than that. In our present violent world, anything can trigger rage. I remember hearing – and this was years ago – about a driver in Manhattan who accidentally sideswiped someone’s expensive sports car. The driver of the sports car got out and shot him. 

Our world is filled with angry people who are out of control. Some of them are heads of government and some are anonymous, but they are out there. It is best not to provoke them. Hashem will hopefully protect us, but we must act intelligently and remember that we are Hashem’s representatives in this world. All our actions reflect on the Ribono shel Olam

This is especially important to remember as we enter the Three Weeks, the most dangerous period of the entire year. We cannot take lightly the hatred that permeates the world. 
“Zeiri said in the name of Rabbi Chanina: the son of David will not come until the arrogant are eliminated from Israel, as it is stated, ‘For then I will remove from your midst those who delight in … arrogance …. And I will leave in your midst a humble and forbearing people, and they will take refuge in the Name of Hashem.’” (Sanhedrin 98a)

Chazal tell us further, “Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi said: Come and see how great are the lowly of spirit before the Holy One, Blessed is He. For … Scripture regards [one who is humble] as though he brought all the various [Temple] offerings, for it is stated, ‘The sacrifices of G-d are a broken spirit.’ And not only that, but his prayer is not despised [by G-d], as it is stated, ‘a broken and crushed heart, Oh G-d, You will not despise.’” (Sotah 5b)
Chazal tell us further, “Rabbi Elazar was asked by his students what can a person do to be spared the travail of Moshiach? [And he responded,] one should occupy himself in [the study of] Torah and acts of kindness.” (Sanhedrin 98a)
The surrounding culture believes that the louder and more arrogant you are, the more you will accomplish. They believe in screaming and pushing. This is the hallmark of people who do not believe in Hashem. They feel that they must cultivate the attention and adulation of other people in order to succeed. 
But the Yirai Shomayimlehavdil, those who try to do the will of the Master of the Universe, know that the eyes of Hashem are upon them. Simply acting in the correct way, occupying oneself in the study of Torah and acts of kindness,” will receive the notice of the Ribono shel Olam and generate His protection. 

My chavrusa, Rabbi Shaul Geller, told me the following story: A demonstration was taking place several years ago in Yerushalayim because of the draft issue. A few talmidim were escorting a rosh yeshiva there, asking him various questions. After they passed Bar Ilan Street, the area became so dense with people that it was difficult to move. However, every once in a while a choshuv-looking person would walk by with an entourage, and his followers would push their way through so that particular rav could get closer to the front. One talmid turned to the rosh yeshiva and said, “If Rebbe wants, we could ‘box out’ a little so Rebbe could get through.”  The rosh yeshiva replied, There is a Rashi in Eruvin that explains the reason we don’t litter is that it’s not nice. There are certain things that one does not do simply because it is not nice.”

My friends, that is a finely-tuned Torah attitude. That is what we need to survive. We do not need to win public opinion polls or scream or push. We need to do the will of Hashem and understand that He is aware of every nuance of our behavior. We need to occupy ourselves with Torah and gemillas chassadim. Then the curses of our enemies will be turned to brachas and we will see the Bais Hamikdosh standing in our midst! 
May it be soon in our days!

*          *          *          *
Roy Neuberger, author and public speaker, can be reached at roy@2020vision.co.il.

© Copyright 2016 by Roy S. Neuberger

3 comments:

annie said...

Thank you for this article. We will try very hard to do what is right and what is nice in the eyes of HaShem... being so careful of the hour we stand in.

Yes, Amen... may we see the Bais Hamikdosh soon and Moshiach to rule and reign for HaShem's Great Name's Sake.

Neshama said...

Annie, thank you and I wish the best for you.

annie said...


Thank YOU, Neshama... may YOU be Blessed tremendously for all you do for Hashem's Great Name... to Jews and Gentiles. *:-)