Jeffrey Levine
Blogger, Entrepreneur, and Philanthropist

Parshat Balak and the Three Weeks

So, here are at the Three Weeks again and soon the nine days again. We go through the motions of mourning and pretending that we miss the Beit Mikdash (and maybe we want the 3rd Temple to restore God’s light in the World). So, we pretend to mourn, no meat for a week (what a disaster) and fast. The sad truth is that we do not even know what we are missing and even if we had the 3rd Temple would we really appreciate it and go back to Animal Sacrifices.

Times change.  Judaism is changing. Those Jews in New York, London, and other places are happy with their Jewish Lifestyle living in their enclaves while seemingly obliviant to the fact that 85% of the brethren have little or no connection to Judaism. Not only that but the young Jews are so removed from the Judaism, that they support BDS and have no appreciation for Israel and unwittingly seek the destruction of the only Jewish state and haven of that minority of people of the Jews. How sad and sic.

Not only that Israel is alone (I know that maybe we have the US watching our back at the moment), but just look at the opposition of the world to recognizing Jerusalem as our Capital).

In fact, this idea us being alone was not new: One of the most profound and influential comments ever made about Jewish destiny was made by the pagan prophet Bilaam in this week’s Parsha:

As I see them from the mountain tops, Gaze on them from the heights, Behold it is a people that dwell alone, Not reckoned among the nations. (Num. 23:9)

For Too many – Jews and non-Jews, admirers and critics alike – this has seemed to epitomize the Jewish situation: a people that stands outside history and the normal laws governing the fate of nations.

Reb Shlomo zt”l  when introducing his song – “Gam Ki Eileich- though I walk in the valley of the shadow of death, I shall not fear any evil, for You are with me,” (Psalm 23), with a lamentation and a cry, that Israel has no friends in the world. He said that this makes him sad but also happy because only good people befriend Israel.

Reb Shlomo continued singing and inspiring us with confidence, teaching that really we are not alone – “For You are with me.” Hashem is always our friend.

Hashem too is alone, so to speak. But really, He is not alone, because He has us, the Children of The Covenant- we are and always will be with Him. And one day, let it be soon, the whole world will be with Him.

So, my Jewish brother and sisters, we have to what to cry for. But crying is not enough we need to reach our fellow Jews – both on the right who happy with Jewish lives and on the left who are ignorant of the Judaism.

Unfortunately, today Zionism is a dirty word. It should be noted that Zionism comes the word Zion which is Jerusalem.  This is a tragedy. All Jews need to shout out for the sake of Zion and Jerusalem. We need to shout from the rooftops that Jerusalem is our eternal Capital and the place where we direct our prayers and where we want to live.

This Sunday will be the 17th of Tammuz (delayed by one of Shabbat), a fast day commemorating and mourning for the destruction of the Beit Hamikdash. With this fast we begin the ‘three weeks’ of mourning; also known as בין המצרים – ‘between the narrows’. The Talmud tells us that the 2nd Beit Hamikdash was destroyed because of ‘sinat Chinam’ — baseless hatred. We also learn that anyone who does not get to see the rebuilding of the Beit Hamikdash in his days, it is as if it was destroyed in his days. What do we need to do to help rebuild the Beit Hamikdash? Many holy Rabbis teach that since the Beit Hamikdash was destroyed because of ‘sinat chinam’, it will be rebuilt out of ‘ahavat chinam’ — baseless love.

May we all be blessed to truly renew and deepen our ‘achdut’, oneness and unification with each other and with Hashem, and may we merit to see the reestablishment and return of the Beit Hamikdash, quickly in our days, together with the speedy arrival of Mashiach Tzidkeinu. Amen, kein yehi ratzon

Returning to the theme of  ‘ahavat chinam’ — baseless love

When asked about his practice of hugging everyone, Reb Shlomo zt”l replied by pointing out one of the absurdities of this world: It’s okay to shoot a stranger but it’s not okay to hug a stranger! We are so self-centered, so totally absorbed with ourselves that we don’t even realize that we haven’t quite left our childhood ways, thinking “you are here for me- and if you have nothing to offer me – goodbye!” Some people are more sophisticated and not as blunt in the ways they tell others “I don’t need you or want you.”

A chossid who was having financial difficulties in his business once came to the Alter Rebbe complaining about all the things he needs to resolve his financial problems, but alas- he doesn’t have what he needs. The Alter Rebbe put his head down on his arm for a few moments before answering, “You are very focused on what you need. But have you ever thought about why does the world need you?” [ not quoted precisely] Realizing that he totally self-absorbed, the chossid immediately turned to do tshuvah and asked the Rebbe for his advice on how to proceed. The Alter Rebbe told him that his help will come by first helping his friends who are in need.

Before thinking “what can you do for me,” consider “what can I do for you?” There is always something you can do. If someone asks you for help in getting a job, maybe you don’t have one to offer them, and maybe you haven’t got a clue as to how you can help them find one, but you can at least sincerely pray for them.

We are here to make this world into a dwelling place for the Shechinah. We will succeed at this by being best friends and by serving Hashem b’simcha – with joy! Amen.

The Third Temple: A Vision of Peace and Unity

There is an old Chassidisher Yiddish tune that says, “Master of the world, I know that the Third Temple is not built with stones; it’s built with tears. So if all you need is just one more tear, please let it be my tear.I heard from a soldier, one of those holy of holiest soldiers who conquered the Holy Wall, that he had a dream at night that all this was all just a nightmare, we never left the Holy Land, the Holy Temple was never destroyed. Suddenly, he thought to himself, maybe the Levites are still singing in the Holy Temple. Maybe all of Israel is still there dancing in the courtyard of the Holy Temple. He ran out from his house and ran over hills and over mountains until he reached the hills of Jerusalem and yes, it was true, the Holy Temple was still there, all of Israel was still dancing and the singing of the Levites was sweeter and deeper than Paradise. He could not believe such a thing existed in the world — and then he woke up. When G-d will rebuild the Third Temple then we shall know that the Exile was just a bad dream. All the pain, all the suffering never really existed — the Six Million never died — the Holy Temple was always there. Let it be tonight, that instead of dreaming, let’s wake up and find the Holy Temple. Let’s meet at this place on the hills of Jerusalem where the holy soldier heard the singing of the Levites. Let’s meet the whole world on that hill.

More readings:—Beware-of-the-dangers-of-Assimilation by R’ Sholom Brodt z”l (from which much of the material used for the article was sourced from)

About the Author
Jeffrey is a Blogger, Entrepreneur, and Philanthropist (we can only dream) living in Jerusalem. He is a young grandfather who has five kids and four grandchildren. Jeffrey provides Financial Services for regulated Financial Companies - CFO, Key Individual, Approved Person through and is a promoter of ideas and trends where Innovation meets ESG. He is looking to spread the message of Ahavat Yisrael and Jewish Unity through the music and stories through and blogging.
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