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Parshas Balak

All Day Long

By Rabbi Label Lam

"He perceived no iniquity in Jacob and saw no perversity in Israel. HASHEM his G-d is with him and the friendship of the King is in him." (Bamidbar 23:21)

The friendship of the king is in him: His keen observation is upon Israel… This informs that HASHEM is their King and they are His Nation…the way a people rejoice when their king is in their midst… (Malbim)

Bilaam sought to curse the Jewish Nation but was forced to say only words of truth. So profound were his sayings that our sages wished to add his words to the daily recital of Shema. Had it not been for their length we would be reciting his prophetic insights twice daily. Therefore, we can presume that what he had stated is as true now as is was way back then. Forgive me for even asking but, “How do we find HASHEM in our midst today?”

A close friend of mine, who happens to be a lawyer, was taking his usual 45 minute drive to work. He was listening to a Torah tape. At the conclusion of the first side of the tape the Rabbi was speaking about the importance of praying at all times as the Talmud says, “It would be worthwhile for a person to pray all day long.” He was also emphasizing that the requirement for prayer is prompted by any need large and small. Not only would it not be inappropriate to ask for even the tiniest things, but the more seemingly minute and insignificant the request the greater one crowns with words his belief that HASHEM is involved in the details of life. If one prays only for global matters like “world peace” then he betrays the notion that HASHEM is only involved in generalities.

As my friend was absorbing these new concepts he was observing that a huge rain storm, to his surprise and dismay had erupted outside. He didn’t expect such a rain and he had no umbrella or rain coat. He was approaching a courthouse where he needed to file a few papers, which would take an estimated 15 minutes before going to a deposition where he would be all day long. It dawned upon him that just getting from the car to the courthouse would cause his suit to become drenched and then he would be sitting in some office looking and feeling like something the cat dragged in for the rest of the day. What was he to do?

He decided to apply what he had just been learning and even though on a sunny day it was extremely rare to find a parking place right in front of the courthouse, he attempted the impossible. “HASHEM, Zev here! I need a parking place and preferably next to the courthouse.” As he was passing by a blinking yellow light indicated that a car was just pulling out. He pulled up in front of the empty space to parallel park and he was about to back up when he caught himself. In that pause he lifted his voice again stating sincerely, “Thank you!” About to back up he caught himself a second time. Opening his mouth in prayer he declared, “I wouldn’t mind if there’d be a little extra money in the meter!”

He completed the park and found 15 minutes left on the parking meter. It was just enough time for him complete his task. He got only a few rains drops on his shoulder going in and on the way out. His suit and the day were spared but the greatest gift was no doubt the profound and palpable feeling of closeness- that HASHEM is there with him all day long.

Text Copyright © 2007 by Rabbi Label Lam and

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