1. Numbers: Balak

This is funny… posts haiku for the Torah portions.  Here’s the haiku for Balak:

A talking donkey!
Is this Balak in Torah
Or Shrek on the screen?

Both Balak and Shrek
Have donkeys as companions
And both are “ogres”.

Balak is an old friend (although I suppose I should hesitate to use the term friend in connection with someone who wanted to have the Isrealites cursed) of our family’s.  2 years ago, when my daughter turned 13 and was preparing for her Bat Mitzvah, we spent many a dinner hour chatting about talking asses.  That’s life with a 13 year old girl and a 9 year old boy.  They were so excited that they could say ass in front of us.  Not only that, but Em could say it on the bimah!

When she first began her d’rash with the cantor, they talked about the “still small voice”.  When Em was small, maybe as young as 3 or 4, I began to tell her about the voice inside of her that told her when something wasn’t right.  This voice became more and more reliable as Em got older, and is something that both she and I have learned to trust.  When her life goes awry, it is usually a result of not listening to her “little voice”. 

It’s so nice when life and Torah have something in common.  Oh dear, did I say that out loud?  Of course life and Torah ALWAYS have EVERYTHING in common.  But sometimes we mortals just don’t see it.  Or hear it.

1. Numbers: Korach

Korach was a politician. 

We are at the tail end of one of the ugliest CA primary elections in recent memory (I probably say that every election).  In the midst of a terrible economic downturn, 2 politicians spent over one hundred million dollars (one spent over 80 million alone) calling each other names and slandering each other’s character.  Because they both want to win.

Korach wanted to win.  And he wanted Moses to lose.  So he assembled a group of men to confront Moses with the intention of deposing him as the Israelite’s leader.  He was only the first of many who would use might to try to pull the rug out from under the Jews.  But Moses did not rule by might.  Moses was a spiritual leader, not a dictator.  You know the song….

not by might and not by power, but by spirit alone, we all will live in peace….

If I were a republican, I would not vote for either of the major candidates.  And if I were one of those candidates, I would have spent that money building bridges (literally), and paving roads, and buying school books.  I would have put my name on every possible benefit to society that I could afford.  I would beg and plead with people to find a way to get along and help one another during these difficult times.  I would find a way to help our current leaders to succeed for the benefit of all.

But that’s not what politicians do.  They bully and scream.  They belittle and discredit.  They call names and they stamp their feet.

Luckily, Moses was not a politician.  Korach, who was too blinded by his politics to realize that he was fighting a battle that did not exist, fought like a politician.  Moses stepped back and let the battle play itself out.  Korach was literally eaten alive.

Take a lesson politicians.  The battle is to better society for everyone.  The battle is not for you to win at the expense of others.