JULY 06 2014 SHARED NEWSLETTER-RABBI ECKSTEIN

imagesGPJ6VP34

SHARED NEWSLETTER

 

Remember God’s Protection

July 4, 2014

“My people, remember
what Balak king of Moab plotted
and what Balaam son of Beor answered.
Remember your journey from Shittim to Gilgal,
that you may know the righteous acts of the LORD.”

— Micah 6:5

The Torah portion for this week is Balak, after the king of the Moabites, from Numbers 22:2–25:9, and the Haftorah is from Micah 5:6–6:8.

In this week’s Haftorah, taken from the book of Micah, God presented a case against Israel. The gist of it was that God had been kind, loving, and generous with the people and asked very little in return. Yet, in spite of this, the Israelites had gone astray. In this context, God reminded the people of a kindness that He had given to their ancestors, which is also the focal point of this week’s Torah reading. God said, “My people, remember what Balak king of Moab plotted and what Balaam son of Beor answered.”

In our Torah portion we read about how the king of Moab had hired Balaam to curse the children of Israel in order to weaken them so he could defeat them. However, after several attempts to do so, Balaam was unsuccessful. The Sages teach that Balaam, although evil, had been granted levels of prophecy and power known only to Moses. He was extremely capable of performing this task. Yet, when he wanted to curse God’s chosen people, Balaam couldn’t get the words out of his mouth. Instead, he was forced by God to praise Israel and bless them, furthering their prosperity.

What an amazing demonstration of how God fights our battles for us! It reminds me of the story of Esther when Haman, who wanted to destroy his archenemy Mordecai, was forced to parade him around town on the king’s horse while Mordecai was dressed in the king’s royal garments. Haman had intended to harm Mordecai – he had already built the gallows on which to hang Mordecai – but God arranged for Haman to promote Mordecai, and Haman was ultimately hung by the noose made with own hands.

So often we get caught up in worrying about what people say and think about us. We waste so much energy trying to predict what people might say or do to harm us. However, these verses inspire us to leave those things to God. That’s not our job – it’s His. What can we really do about what other people think or say about us anyway?

So what is our job? A few verses later we read: “ …what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8). Our job is to be honest, kind, humble, and God-centered.

Next time you catch yourself worrying about what others might say or think about you, let it go and cast your worries to God. He will fight our battles and ensure justice. Then we can focus on our job – and let God do His.

With prayers for shalom, peace,

Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein
Founder and President          (THIS IS A “SHARED NEWLETTER”)

RADIO SHOWS

IFCJ.ORG       GET INVOLVED AND SHARE YOUR LOVE FOR ISRAEL!

SHARING A HEBREW PERSPECTIVE! GOD BLESS

English: Moses Speaks to Pharaoh, c. 1896-1902...

English: Moses Speaks to Pharaoh, c. 1896-1902, by James Jacques Joseph Tissot (French, 1836-1902), gouache on board, 7 7/16 x 11 1/4 in. (18.9 x 28.6 cm), at the Jewish Museum, New York (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Dealing with Discouragement

December 23, 2013

Moses reported this to the Israelites, but they did not listen to him because of their discouragement and harsh labor.” — Exodus 6:9

The Torah portion for this week is Va’eira, which means “and I appeared,” from Exodus 6:2–9:35, and the Haftorah is from Ezekiel 28:25–29:21.

If you’re like the rest of us, no doubt you have experienced discouragement, maybe even today. It could be a goal you never seem to reach or an expectation that didn’t come to fruition. Sometimes it seems like things will never get better and it’s all too easy to give up and despair.

This week’s Torah reading picks up the story of Israel’s redemption. Just a few verses earlier, the process had already gotten underway. Moses accepted God’s mission to free the people and went to speak to Pharaoh. However, Pharaoh’s response was less than encouraging. Not only did he answer Moses’ plea to “Let my people go” with an emphatic “no,” Pharaoh also made the Israelites’ conditions even harsher and impossibly demanding.

At that point, Moses was extremely discouraged. He said to God: “Ever since I went to Pharaoh … he has brought trouble on this people, and you have not rescued your people …” (Exodus 5:23). In other words, things are only getting worse, God! Last week’s reading ended with God encouraging Moses with the promise that everything would work out in the end.

This week’s reading begins with an encouraged Moses who returned to the Israelites to tell them that redemption is near. However, “they did not listen to him because of their discouragement and harsh labor.” Once again, Moses was left feeling deflated and discouraged.

What a disheartening section. However, within this tale of discouragement, we can find a cure for the ailment of despair.

First, let’s start with the cause. The verse tells us the source of the people’s inability to embrace hope. The cause, which is translated from Hebrew as “discouragement and harsh labor,” literally means “short spirit and hard work.” In other words, the Israelites suffered from a crushed spirit because of how hard life had been. In addition, they suffered from physical exhaustion due to overworking. Both of these factors kept them mired in despair.

However, there is a way out. The first step is to rest. When our bodies are physically strong, our spirits are stronger. We need to take care of our bodies with proper nutrition and sleep. The second step is to believe in God’s promises for the future. God reiterated His promises to Moses, but in time, Moses had to learn, and we all have to model, how to remember God’s promises and trust them on our own. We can reinforce our faith through daily prayer and study.

Once we nurture our bodies and spirits, we can leave despair behind – and turn our discouragement into the courage to persevere and be redeemed.

With prayers for shalom, peace, Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein Founder and President