By Alyssa Chalmin
Shabbat Shalom. This week’s torah portion is Balak. Balak is the king of Moab, a land near Israel. He wants to fight the Israelites but knows that they keep winning wars so he asks the prophet Balaam to curse the Israelites to make his victory easier. God tells Balaam that he is not permitted to curse the Israelites and that he must bless them. He goes on a journey with his donkey who talks to him (wow!) and meets the Angel of the Eternal who stresses that he must say what God tells him. Balaam spoke to try and curse the Israelites but instead he blessed them, saying the prayer we know as Mah Tovu.
The word Balak means waste. Balak tells Balaam to say words to harm the people of Israel, but God doesn’t allow Balaam to waste his words and instead makes him bless the Israelites. We have so many words to use, why waste them with curses and negativity? On this trip, you have a lot of opportunities to interact with peers, Israeli teens, entrepreneurs, and scientists. Use your words wisely. Be kind to everyone you meet. When someone shares their story, listen.
This is also an incredible opportunity to visit so many places that most people in the world will never have the chance to visit. When you’re at these places, don’t waste your time. There are so many times during this trip to see people’s livelihoods and be a part of them. Ask questions, fully participate, truly absorb every word and experience of these 3 weeks. You will find yourself leaving Israel a more compassionate, driven, and creative individual if you really try. Shabbat Shalom.
This post was originally given as a D’var Torah on Shabbat morning