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Shiurim & Adult Education
THOUGHTS ON PARASHAT CHUKAT-BALAK BY RACHEL ALOOF
One of the themes of our second parsha this week deals with speech. Bilaam’s donkey was given the power of speech – a miraculous event which, according to the Ramban, shows that even man’s normal functions such as the ability to speak are under G-d’s control. We should take nothing for granted and aim to use it for its G-dly purpose.
Bilaam attempts to misuse his ability to speak G-d’s words because at every turn his intention is to curse Bnei Yisrael. However ultimately G-d causes him to bless the people. As he starts his third blessing (24:1) he gazes on Israel’s tents and sees with how much dignity, respect and privacy they treat one another since, as Rashi explains, the entrances of the tents did not face one another, and he declares “How goodly are your tents O Jacob, your dwelling places O Israel”.
With the same sentiment we can use our speech to respect each other. Speech can be used for good or bad – no less than six of the Al Chets on Yom Kippur are on the topic of speech. A harsh, careless or thoughtless word can completely floor someone, on the other hand one kind word can make someone’s day. We must remember how powerful our words are, particularly with the people we are closest to. As it says in Pirkei Avot (1:15) “Greet everyone with a cheerful countenance” – this could be extended to a cheerful word too and a chance to brighten someone’s day.
Shabbat Shalom/Good Shabbos