Balak – Letters of Courage


Dear Chevra,

While in North Miami Beach working on my graduate degree in clinical social work I received a phone call. The man on the other line introduced himself as “Rabbi Rubin,” saying he had an important issue to discuss and it would be best if I came and spoke with him in person. We made up to meet the next day at the beis medrash next to his home. I arrived at the Beis Midrash and recognized it as the Mudjiezer Rebbe’s beis medrash. After waiting a few minutes, in walked “Rabbi Rubin,” the heilige Mudjiezer Rebbe zt”l. We sat down. The Rebbe explained that a couple had come to him in search of marriage counseling. For various reasons, he felt the best approach in this particular case, was to refer them to a professional and would I please counsel the couple. Despite the Mudjiezer’s encouragement, and to his disappointment, I declined, rationalizing that I was not yet a “licensed” social worker. Foolishly, I prioritized limitations, focusing on what I lacked rather than on what I had. When a holy Yid like the Mudjiezer Rebbe zt”l tells us we’re capable of doing something, whether it be offering counsel or walking on the moon, it means, regardless of how we, or others, understand our qualifications, we’re qualified.

A rock hewer was busy chipping away at stones on a mountainside when he saw a king’s entourage passing far below. He thought, “how nice it must be to be a powerful king. I wish I were a king.” Suddenly he found himself to be the king, sitting in the king’s royal carriage, dressed in the king’s royal attire. After several moments of enjoying his royal position, he felt hot, the sun beating down on him. He thought, “if the sun can make even the king uncomfortable, the sun must be even more powerful than the king. I wish I were the sun.” Suddenly he found himself to be the sun. After several moments of enjoying making people hot and uncomfortable, clouds came and covered up his rays. He thought, “if clouds can cover the sun’s rays, the clouds must be more powerful than the sun. I wish I were a cloud.” Suddenly he found himself a lofty cloud blocking out the sun’s rays. He enjoyed being a lofty cloud when suddenly he was dispersed by a strong wind. He thought, “if the wind can disperse the lofty clouds the wind must be more powerful than even the clouds. I wish I could be the wind.” With that, he enjoyed blowing through the sky dispersing the loftiest clouds until he was stopped by a mighty mountain. He thought, “how nice it must be to be a mountain. A mighty mountain stops even the fiercest wind.” Suddenly he found himself to be a mountain. For several moments he enjoyed being a tall mountain barring the wind from passing, when suddenly he felt an ache on his side. He looked were the ache was coming from and saw a rock hewer chipping into him. With that he thought, “now I know that the simple rock hewer is the mightiest of all;” and with that, he was once again, a simple rock hewer.

When we focus our energies, mental, physical, emotional, on utilizing our own God-given capabilities without comparing ourselves to others, we accomplish great things. Rav Shlomo Freifeld zt”l, spoke about the Rav of the shul where he was raised. Uncomplicated mn and straightforward, yet a great Rav. Rav Freifeld writes that if this exceptional man had compared himself to other Rabbeim, he would have stopped in his tracks. Focusing on who he was; and never having had his limitations revealed to him, never having thought about who he wasn’t, never having compared himself to others, he achieved greatness.

Bilam benches, blesses, the Jewish people, “How goodly are your tents, O Yaakov, your dwelling places, O Yisroel.” Our tents didn’t face one another, each tent faced it’s own way. We weren’t comparing ourselves to one another. We weren’t examining our limitations. Each Yid was doing what he had to do, focusing on his avoda. No comparisons. No working yennim’s, someone else’s, avodas Hashem. Pinchas approaches Moshe Rabbeinu with a sheila, a question, about how to handle the issue of Zimri’s relationship with Kosbi. Pinchas didn’t second guess himself. He had a question. He consulted with Moshe Rabbeinu. Question clarified; dilemma resolved, without hesitation Pinchas, spear in hand, entered the tent of Zimri and executed Zimri and Kosby. Pinchas didn’t stop to examine reasons he might be considered under qualified, or unqualified. Pinchas didn’t consider public opinion. Without comparing ourselves to others, we too should go “all out” to do Hashem’s will, focusing on the special service that only we, each of us an only child of the King, can do for Him.

Have a good and inspired Shabbos.


Binyamin Klempner

About the Author
At the age of 17 Binyamin Klempner left Teaneck, NJ to pursue a simple existence on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation in Northern Montana. While residing on the Blackfeet Reservation he discovered the beauty of his Jewish Heritage and traveled to Boston to learn about Jewish life from the Bostoner Rebber, Reb Levi Yitzchok Horowitz, zy"a. From Boston he traveled to Zichron Yaakov where he studied in Yeshiva for a number of years. From there he married and lived with his wife in Milwaukee, WI while studying under HaRav Michel Twerski, shlita. During this time Binyamin also earned a Masters Degree in Social Work. After working as a social worker for several years he moved with my wife and kids to Tiveria, Israel where he works as an organic farmer and homesteader.
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