Friday, July 6
- 06:50 am – Shacharit
- 07:00 pm – Mincha
- 08:05 pm – Candle lighting
Saturday, July 7
- 07:45 am – Shacharit at Salem Towers
- 08:45 am – Shacharit
- 09:01 am – Latest time for Kriat Shema
- 10:30 am – Jr. Congregation
- 11:15 am – Kiddush
- 05:00 pm – Ladies’ Torah class
- 06:45 pm – Men’s Derech Hashem class
- 07:40 pm – Mincha and Se’udah Shlishit
- 09:00 pm – Ma’ariv
- 09:13 pm – Shabbat Ends
Fast of 17 Tammuz Schedule
Sunday, July 8
- 04:04 am – Fast Begins
- 08:00 am – Shacharit
- 07:50 pm – Mincha
- 08:55 pm – Ma’ariv
- 09:05 pm – Fast Ends
July 9 – 13
- 06:40 am – Monday and Thursday
- 06:50 am – Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday
- 08:05 pm – Monday – Thursday
- 07:00 pm – Friday
- 08:35 pm – Monday – Thursday
To print this schedule, click here to go directly to the post, and then press ctrl-P (Windows) or cmd-P (Mac) to print it.
Weekly Words of Torah
Intellect & Middot Tovot
Insights into Parshat Balak of David Freilich of Yeshivat Sha’alvim, by Rav Re’uven Ungar of Sha’alvim.
?במדבר כב:כח – ויפתח ה’ את פי האתון ותאמר לבלעם, עה עשיתי לך כי הכיתני זה שלש רגלים
.רש”י שם – רמזה לו, אתה מבקש לעקור אומה החוגגת שלש רגלים בשנה
This week’s parsha, פרשת בלק, introduces us to the enigmatic figure of בלעם, further known by his title as “בלעם הרשע.” When investigating and trying to learn more about בלעם, one can’t help but be struck by how harsh the חכמים were to בלעם – to the extent that they say, in :גמ’ מס’ סנהדרין קו, that concerning בלעם הדכמה דמשכחת ביה דרוש ביה – one should try to be דורש (derogatorily expound) any hint to his evilness he can find in תנ”ך. What was it about בלעם that so engendered hate from the חכמים; what was it about his practices that brought the ire of the חכמים and הקב”ה upon him?
The משנה in אבות ה:כב gives some very clear guidance in this question. The משנה explains that whoever possesses the three traits of עין רעה (evil eye), רוח גבוהה (arrogant spirit) and a נפש רחבה (greedy/insatiable spirit) are amongst the תלמידים of בלעם הרשע.
The (שם משמואל (שנת תרע”ב connects this משנה to an earlier משנה, in an attempt to gain a clearer picture of these traits. The משנה in אבות ד:כח quotes a statement of Rabbi Elazar HaKappar who states that קנאה (jealousy), תאווה (lust and desire), and כבוד (a thirst for honor) remove a person from the world. The שם משמואל explains that these 6 attributes pair up: the עין רעה is a crucial part of קנאה, a רוח גבוהה leads a person to a desire for כבוד, and a נפש רחבה is essentially the same thing as an overabundance of תאווה.
The שם משמאול further explains that these attributes, castigated by the משנה, are in fact so decried by the חז”לfor they are the main paths to the 3 cardinal sins, the 3 עוונות which one must give his life rather than commit: those of murder (שפיכת דמים), sexual immorality (גילוי עריות), and idolatry (עבודה זרה). Jealousy is the root of most violence, and ultimately, to that terrible act of murder – for if someone desires another person’s object to a tremendous extent, he might even be willing to kill for it. תאווה is obviously the root of all sins of גילוי עריות, what underlies all sins in that area. And lastly, כבוד – when a person feels that he deserves a tremendous amount of honor, it is a form of self-worship. This then leads to paganism, a form of worship where one doesn’t have to lower himself beneath the “Gods”, for the “Gods” themselves are flawed (as any cursory look at Greek Mythology, Roman Mythology, or others will show). The גמ’ in סוטה ד: further equates the two, bringing a statement of Rabbi Yochanan in the name of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai that “כל אדם שיש בו גסות רוח כאילו עובד עבודת כוכבים” – whoever has arrogance is counted as if he serves עבודה זרה.
Rav Nissan Alpert, in his sefer לימודי ניסן, asks an interesting question – the first משנה in אבות we quoted above, describing the traits of someone who is a “תלמיד of בלעם,” brings that as the antithesis of a “תלמיד of אברהם אבינו.” By the משנה’s description of these attributes being the sole difference between אברהם and בעלם, it seems that to have been silently highlighting that, in some other facet they were entirely the same; there was a “צד השוה” between them. He wondered though – what exactly was the צד השוה, the similarity between אברהם and בלעם?
Rav Alpert explains that בלעם is similar to אברהם אבינו in that he sought to continue the mission of אברהם, that tremendous mission of spreading the knowledge of הקב”ה, his Oneness, Omnipotence, and His Creation of us. That was the mission of בלעם, which he did accomplish to some extent – hence his meriting to be a נביא ה’.
However, we are now left with a question – if בלעם was in fact spreading knowledge of הקב”ה, fulfilling a tremendous mission and therefore merited נבואה, why was he still such a tremendous רשע though?
He explains that although בלעם had a tremendous mission, one which he understood the importance of, the impact of that mission was felt solely by his שכל, his intellect. However, when it came to his personal character, he was still a degenerate, one ruled by his terrible traits. True, his שכל won over occasionally and he spread knowledge of the existence of הקב”ה, but that knowledge failed to change him, failed to make him work on himself and perfect his מדות. This was the root of the difference between אברהם and בלעם- for אברהם אבינו worked on himself for countless hours to perfect himself and make himself into a כלי for ה’ יתברך, while בלעם הרשע did nothing of the sort. He lacked the ישרות, the straightness of the אבות, their dedication to the cause of spreading ה”s words which didn’t allow them to show any inconsistency, forcing them to perfect their מדות, and therefore remained a degenerate.
This can allow us to understand a statement of the אריז”ל. The ארי הק’ explained that בלעם, in reality, didn’t want to destroy the Jewish Nation – for we were trying to do the same thing as him, spreading knowledge of ה’to the world. Rather, he was only seeking to destroy and uproot our observance of the שלש רגלים, the 3 festivals we celebrate before ה’in the מקדש (פסח, שבועות and סוכות) [see רש”י above]. Why, what was it about the שלש רגלים that irritated בלעם to such an extent?
The שם משמואל explains, based off an idea of the מהר”ל, that each of the אבות were able to fix one of the 3 עוונות, one of the Big Three, and we were, correspondingly, given each of the שלש רגלים as a means of continuing to fight against these horrific sins.
פסח was the time when we were drawn away from the טומאה of מצרים, shucking the terrible paganism contained within the land, and instead were brought under the banner of הקב”ה. It is when we first were known as a monotheistic nation, and therefore a time when we fight against עבודה זרה. Accordingly enough, although there are aspects of the חג that portray us as בני מלכים (such as הסיבה, leaning by the סדר), the main מצוהof פסח is the eating of מצה and the abstaining from חמץ, leavened bread, which the Chassidish Sfarim explain hints at the requirement for שפלות (a humble spirit) and avoiding גאווה (boastfulness).
שבועות, the חג of מתן תורה, represents the rejection of גילוי עריות. Torah is seen as the opposing force to תאווה, and accordingly the גמ’ in קידושין tells one who feels a desire (a תאווה) to do an איסורto run to the בית המדרש, thereby allowing him to destroy that תאווה. By preparing ourselves for a life filled with Torah, as symbolized by the חג of שבועות, we satisfy the basic human need for a connection with another entity – but rather than connecting to another person, we become close to God himself. We are thereby able to overcome the desire for גילוי עריות within us, to control the תאווה every man has.
Lastly, סוכות corresponds to the setting aside of jealousy and עין רעה. It is the חג where we set aside all differences, sitting in similar huts and joining together as a כלל. Indeed, this is the חג where we offer קרבנות for all the nations of world, seeing the connection between all of us and setting aside our עין רעה. This אחדות and viewing everyone with an עין טובה is the rebuff of jealousy (and therefore שפיכת דמים as well).
The character development, perfection of ones מדות represented and engendered by these three חגים therefore represented the antithesis and negation of the personality of בלעם הרשע. It is no wonder, therefore, that he tried to stop the performance of these מצוות from the Jewish Nation.
We see from this a tremendous lesson – it is not enough to just be doing your best to spread the word of God. While that is good, it is incomplete if one doesn’t pair it and preempt it with a perfection of one’s self, to the extent that one is able to.
Rav Nissan Alpert explains that this is why the term “זאת חוקת התורה” is used two times: once at the beginning of last week’s parsha while discussing the פרה אדומה, and once by טהרת והגלת כלים, for it is a general clause in the Torah that if one doesn’t possess טהרה he is unable to possess Torah and קדושה!
This is why, he explains, in the ברכת השחר, the מנהג of some is to make the ברכת התורה only after reciting the ברכה of “אלקי נשמה שנתת בי טהרה היא… בא”ה המחזיר נשמות לפגרים מתים”- for it is only as a result of the fact that our נשמה is inherently pure, and we get it “spiritually cleansed”, so to speak, every morning, that gives us the ability to be מקבל the תורה and be עוסק in it.
The מסילת ישרים, in his הקדמה, explains that this is the reason he wrote the ספר- for חסידות (referring to basic piety, not Chassidism) is a requirement in order to accept Torah, and indeed one can not become a חכם if one doesn’t strive to perfect himself to the best of his ability.
Rav Reich, in his בתי חמים, constantly emphasized that this striving for ישרות has always been the hallmark of a גדול בתורה and just a normal בן תורה – one only needs to look at a few stories from Rav Chaim Brisker (known as אבי יתומים in his town), Rav Moshe, Rav Shlomo Zalman Aurbach, or any of the גדולים of yesteryear or today to see this principle.
May we be זוכה to the level described in the פסוק, that of “לא הביט און ביעקב ולא ראה עמל בישראל” (He perceived no iniquity in Jacob and saw no perversity in Israel), ממילא acquiring the tremendous level of “ה’ אלקיו עמו ותרועת מלך בו” (ה’, his God, is with him, and the friendship of the King is in him), as the משיח comes and rebuilds the בית המקדש, במהרה בימינו.