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Parashat Balak

vHWhOBUwE5fk9FQnTNMFeyfVWLpR8NTnn4KvmpoBs7Iby Andy Harkavy,
Director, Beit RJ, Baltimore MD
6 Points Sports Academy Summer Faculty

Shabbat Shalom Y’all!

Thanks to my GPS, I safely arrived to 6 Points and no longer get lost on my various trips to unfamiliar destinations. Distraction, confusion and getting lost is not only an issue for the modern driver (especially one like me who is ADHD), but it was also an issue for the ancient donkey driver named Balaam.  This week in Parashat Balak, we read about a man gifted with powerful speech, but not necessarily insightful vision in power of words. This man, Balaam, was hired by the Moabite King, Balak, to curse the Israelites in the desert as they journeyed from Egypt to the Promised Land.  Balaam agrees and sets out to curse the people of Israel.  As a result of Balaam’s misguided mission, his donkey sees more clearly than him. The donkey sees an angel on the path and tries to delay and prevent Balaam’s journey from continuing.  Not once or twice, but three times, God sets an angel in the path of Balaam’s donkey to prevent him from speaking harm to the Israelites, yet Balaam does not see the angel.  The donkey turns off the path three times and Balaam hits the donkey each time.  Only when God causes the donkey to speak to Balaam does his heart understand that the work he was hired to do was cruel. Balaam was then able to clearly see the beauty of the Israelite camps and community.  Just like Balaam, you all have the ability to see the beauty of the 6 Points camp and community.

Sometimes getting lost is the first step to really finding our way and to seeing more clearly the path we need to take and the blessings that are before us.  Balaam ultimately arrives at his destination yet in place of condemning the Israelites, Balaam offers the Israelites a blessing, using words found in our prayer book to this day: Mah tovu ohalecha Ya’akov, mishk’notecha Yisrael! “How beautiful are your tents, O Jacob, your dwelling places, O Israel!”   May we each be blessed with the insight to see when we are on our true paths and the strength to right ourselves when we are not.  It is important to remember even if you think your campers, coaches, or co-counselors are acting like a stubborn ass, you need not hit them.  Instead, you should take a step back and put yourself in their shoes, so you can evaluate the situation from their perspective.  As 6 Points commences and when campers arrive, make sure you do not lose your personal GPS signal or route on your 6 Points journey throughout this summer.  Remember on the field and in the dorms to provide these young Jewish athletes with positive encouragement, proper direction, and valuable lessons. You are the guide, inspiration, and spiritual support to their self-confidence, summer success, and Jewish identity.  Shabbat Shalom!


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