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Balak(Numbers 22:2-25:9)

The Jewish Home

In this week's Torah portion, Bilaam's great praise for the Jewish people is found in the famous words that begin our daily prayers and that every Bar/Bat Mitzvah child knows by heart: Ma tovu ohalecha Yaakov - "How goodly are your tents, O Jacob" (Numbers 24:5).

The Sages explain that Bilaam noticed how the tents of the Jews in the desert were carefully aligned so that no one could see into anyone else's home. Bilaam wanted to curse the Jewish people, but because of their modesty, he was unable to do so.

There is an underlying message here. The strength of the Jewish people lies in their homes. Homes, not individuals, are the basic building blocks of a nation. Much more so than individuals create homes, homes nurture individuals. Stable homes, with strong values and focused education, are the most fundamental element in creating a strong nation.

Schools are an important part of an education system, but parents (and governments) who think that schools can be relied on to create individuals of strong moral character will realize their mistake after the horse has already bolted. Even taking into account the element of free will, parents are majorly responsible for who their children turn out to be. They cannot merely blame the school, society or the child's friends. The most fundamental influence is the home.

Yet, as easy as it is to say, it's equally difficult to do. And bringing up children requires an inordinate amount of Divine assistance. But recognition of the reality is a first step in making it happen. Let's rely on no one but ourselves to create the environment in which our children can prosper and develop into the decent and contributing members of society we would like them to be. For as we know from Bilaam, because of our homes, he could not curse us.

Published: June 18, 2008

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Visitor Comments: 5

(5) Anonymous, July 2, 2014 11:18 AM

Great!

This is excellent! Thank you so much for posting it!

(4) Carolyn, June 19, 2013 5:11 PM

I will take my goodly tent with me

Painful circumstances have made it necessary to move from my home of many years. My land is like a park and has been spiritual and healing place. I sold my house on the first day, the first appointment, for the asking price to the right people. Someone commented that is must be hard to leave such a beautiful place where I had invested so much of my heart and soul. I said that it will be the same way of living wherever I go, and that is why it was so important for the right person to own it. What I leave behind was good and so was the "tent" I lived in and I will take that with me. My desire is for the new owners to be inspired and to live a good life as well. I have known the true blessing of a good life and there is no reason to think it is not possible in another place. We have no idea of the ways that our prayers get answered. I am always amazed and excited about the way I get mine. As each one unfolds, I call it the miracle of the month, and share them with others to show how possible the impossible is through G-d. I'm nothing special, but I do have unwavering faith. Get rid of the limits and negativity, and let the goodness flow.

(3) Selma Soss, July 1, 2012 3:51 PM

How Lovely Are Your Tents

Beautiful article. Thank you. Yes, the home is all important. The Jews have this wonderful heritage.

(2) Andy, July 9, 2008 6:09 AM

well said and proof is in follow up where midianites prevailed

where bilaam failed the midianite women succeeded. when modesty no longer prevails jews lose their way. thankfully we are restored but not without a painful price.

(1) Enyi, July 9, 2008 5:35 AM

How lovely are your Tents

For two weeks those words have been ringing in my head,"how lovely are your tents O Jacob,Your tabernacles Israel".To try to imagine that a man whose original intent was to curse a people was moved by what he saw rather to bless them says a lot about the jewish nation.That's one of the rasons that i'm on the road to conversion to judaism,Indeed how lovely are your tents,Jacob.May G-d bless all his people,may G_d bless Israel.

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