Balak: How Good are Your Tents

You know, if Moshiach comes this week, it’s all because of me.


Yesterday, when I was in the kollel, my cellphone started to buzz.  My general rule is to never answer it while I’m learning, unless it’s my wife or my work.  My wife, for obvious reasons…I don’t want to die.  And my work, because I know that if they are calling me at the kollel, something bad must be happening.


I saw that the number was from outside of Israel, so thinking it was my work, I ran out and answered it.


“Hello…”, said the thick Indian accent, “I’m calling from the Microsoft Server Protection Center…”


My heart jumped! 




Here I have a real live thief on the phone looking to scam me out of tons of money.  I know he’s a thief, he knows he’s a thief, but he doesn’t know that I know.  Nor does he know that I know computers.


I didn’t know what to do, since I really had to go learn, but I really didn’t want to lose this opportunity.  So, I played dumb and told him that I’m not in front of my computer.  So, he asked when he could call, I told him when, and that was that.  Unfortunately, instead of calling me during lunch, he called me again, when I was back in the kollel.  EIGHT TIMES IN A ROW!


Throughout the whole time, I refused to pick up, knowing that my learning was more important.


You have to understand something.


If you take some guy with a bad history with his addiction to people of the opposite gender, and then have somebody of such gender come and “woo” him…well…an Indian scammer on the phone has the same affect on computer people.  Soooooo tempting.  Yet I did NOT give in! I did not pick up the phone!


If the world is not existing in my merit today, I simply don’t know on whose merit it is.


Okay, on to Torah!


“How good are your tents, Yaakov” (Bamidbar 24:5). 


One of the most famous lines to come out was when Bilaam prophesied, “How good are your tents, Yaakov.”  Some explain this to be referring to the fact that each family set their tent up in a way as not to see directly into the that of their neighbors'.  Others explain that this refers to the shuls and yeshivos that the Jewish people center their lives around.


I see both fitting in well with the parsha somehow.


For most of the parsha, with the exception of the end, the entire nation was simply sitting there, living their lives in solitude out in the distance.  We see no action on their parts, certainly no negative action.  And here is Bilaam, while trying to curse the Jewish nation, coming to praise it in their tranquility, both in their homes and their houses of study.


During the week, my bag, sfarim, and my most prized procession, my coffee, stay in the same place in the kollel/shul.  I joke that it’s my home, and my house is my secondary house.  And this is what Bilaam was saying.  “Look at them!  Look at them in the distance!  See the beauty of their homes!  See the beauty of the study halls!”  The center of the Jewish nation rests in both places.  When one’s “occupation” is within the study hall, he learns how to be a Jew.  He can then go home and teach his family how to be Jews.  And when the entire nation is following such a simple recipe, then both "houses" are blessed, and the nation sits in tranquility, not even aware of their foes' attempting to destroy them and being thwarted.

However, at the end of the parsha, we see what happens when we are directed away from our homes.  Both the study halls and our family homes.  When certain people went off found other…distractions, they left their study halls and their wives, and as a result, disaster struck.

How good are your tents, Yaakov.

When we focus our energies on building our twin homes, we will, as a nation, merit peace within both of them.

Have a wonderful Shabbos!