We’re at the point in the week, and by extension, that point in the summer, where we are about halfway between 2nd and 3rd base and the outfielder just blew the catch. We have our sights set on home – a place of rest, rejuvenation and celebration.
In many ways, Shabbat is like home. During the week we are pulled in so many different directions with so much occupying our minds. It’s almost as if we are rounding the corner into the final stretch of the Tikkun Olam 5K. The finish-line is in sight but our legs and lungs are burning and it would be so easy to slow down and, perhaps, even walk the rest.
Not at #6PointsCA. The anticipation of Shabbat, a time of togetherness, the feeling of community and a beautiful separation from the rest of the week is a boost of energy driving us towards the finish-line, pushing us to our limits, letting nothing stand in our way. Giving all we have through and then celebrating how hard we’ve worked, together!
This week’s parsha (Torah portion) touches on a similar theme: doing the right thing even though it might be hard. The Israelites are finally in the land of Canaan, their promised land, and they’ve been besought by various enemies. One particularly nasty King, named Balak, tries to force his sorcerer, Balaam, to curse the Israelites. Now, we can’t really say whether Balaam had a crisis of conscience or there was Divine intervention, but something stopped him and kept him from uttering the curse. Not only that, in place of the curse, he said (loosely translated), “Wow! This is a beautiful, peaceful people – how could I possibly curse them?”
It must have been hard to defy his king, someone that had control over his life and what could happen to him.
This parsha begs the question, then, who is in control of our lives? So often, our greatest competitor, the voice that tells us “you can’t do that”, “you aren’t fast enough”, “you’ll never finish”, “it’s just too hard”… is our own. As an athlete, the mental game can be more challenging than the physical game. Our bodies are so much stronger than our brains let on but we consistently sell ourselves short because of that pesky inner dialogue.
Imagine, if we could change that voice in our head from negative to positive – like Balaam did when he went from a curse to a blessing. Imagine if when our brain tells us that we just can’t do any more … we defied that voice and said, “One more. Yes I can!”
Imagine now, if we, as a community, said to each other, “One more. Yes you can!”
What a blessing that would be!