Guiding our Life – Parshat Balak
Usually we live life looking forward. We have a daily calendar, a weekly schedule and in business we talk about the 5-year-plan. It is all based on projections made about how we approach our dreams of where we want to be and choices we make about how we wish to live our days.
We see this too, in Parshat Balak, when Bilaam blessed the Jewish people, he praised their deaths, "Let me die the death of the straight ones."1 What was so special about these deaths that Bilaam felt a need to praise them and pine to die as they did? Rabbi Shimshon Hirsch, a 19th century Frankfurt philosopher and community rabbi explains, that the 'the straight ones' mentioned in the verse were in fact the three forefathers (I always get a kick out of saying that). Abraham, Isaac and Jacob lived their lives always focused on what makes humans, "human". With this as their guide, they were always on a straight path, connected to their purpose and meaning and unwavering in their path to a meaningful life. This is the life that Bilaam aspired to.
This does not make their life boring or uneventful. Rather the opposite – it creates excitement because all events now have meaning. There is no experience that they have which does not carry for them some movement forward.
In a world in which we are challenged by a sense of existential vacuum,2 when we are bombarded with messages all day long and have little time to contemplate our reasons for living, having a reason to get out of bed in the morning is even more vital to our living a healthy, fulfilling life.
It is challenging to make the time to do this. It is also well worth the effort. It does not always come easy but is almost always rewarding.
Have A Great Shabbat!