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Dvar Torah - Balak

Over the past year and a half, we have all experienced the enormous impact that processes which we usually ignore can have on our lives. The government departments, the people, the international relations and protocols that evolved in preventing the spread of deadly disease have worked for a long time to shield us from the fact that every so often something comes along which can be incredibly threatening to our way of life, and even to our lives themselves. The spread of COVID-19 has changed that for all of us. Instead of being insulated, of not knowing what is going on, and being thankful for that fact, we were thrust into the front line, forced to drastically alter significant portions of our lives. We learnt what different types of vaccinations are, what fomites means, we learnt about aerosols and mask hygiene, and we learnt how all of these formerly specialist areas of knowledge can be applied in our own lives to make us and our loved ones safer.

This week's Parsha seems to show us this crucial lesson, without the traumatic aftereffects. We hear this week about the attempt of Balak and Bilam to curse the People of Israel. It is apparent that had they been successful, it would have been likely catastrophic, and yet, Hashem prevents them from following through. He prevents them from successfully uttering the hated and hateful words that they intended. Instead, they utter beautiful blessings, and the Jews continue on their journey none the wiser and only find out how much they should be thankful for later.

At its core, this is the story of obliviousness and how much we sometimes should want to continue to be oblivious. However, it is also the story of how when we find out, we can use that knowledge to better appreciate the array of forces which keep us safe, most of the time without our own intervention. We are incredibly blessed to live in the community that we do, in the country that we do, in the world that we do, and to be part of the nation we are a part of. Let's not forget how many benefits we get from those memberships, and let's try to be more purposeful in how we further our involvement in those causes in the future.


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