A guest who had traveled from afar once visited the saintly Chofetz Chaim, Rabbi Yisrael Meir Kagan zt”l, and was taken aback by the Rabbi’s simple living conditions. The home was lacking the most basic furnishings! When he relayed his surprise, the Chofetz Chaim asked him, “And where is your furniture? Why didn’t you bring it?” The guest replied with the obvious, “I’m just passing through here. I live quite a distance from here, and there I have many furnishings to decorate my home.” “I’m following the same practice,” responded the Chofetz Chaim. “In this world I’m just passing through. My real home is in the next world, and with the eternal treasures produced from my service of the Al-mighty I am furnishing that future home.”

Bilaam was hired to curse the Jewish nation, but was denied the ability to do so. In fact, he eventually formulated a number of blessings and praises, including “How goodly are your tents, Jacob, your dwelling places, Israel!” (Numbers 24:5) The Jews were indeed dwelling in tents at the time, but the message was that they not only dwelt in tents, but their attitude was in tents. All the wealth and possessions they had, whatever “stuff” they collected, was understood for what it was — temporary, like a tent. What they really valued and focused on was their everlasting spiritual acquisitions in their service of the Al-mighty. (Sefer Taam V’Daas)

The Talmud notes that Bilaam was particularly impressed by the way the tents of the camp were pitched. The openings of the tents did not face each other, allowing greater privacy. This demonstrated, explained a friend of mine, that their focus was not on what new furnishings and finery, new gadgets and gizmos, their neighbors had. Their aspirations derived from within, from what they truly valued — growth in their relationship and service of the Al-mighty. This was eternal wealth they could take with them to their permanent home in the†World†to Come.

Good Shabbos!
Rabbi Mordechai Dixler
Program Director, Project Genesis – Torah.org

8 Comments

  1. The regular information sent to me is invaluable and much appreciated to compete with my children who are “shomer Shabat” and study Torah. However my comments as requested and suggested by you , is about the format and presentation of the reading material sent. Black print on a white back ground. This is the worst combination for the human retina with regard to reading. Hashem has blessed us with a “yellow spot” in the center of our retina specifically to read black print on a pale yellow back ground,. far more readily and with greated comfort. The size of the letters if slightly bigger would be an added advanage. This is especially important for elderly readers and poor eye sight. Black print on a yellow back round allows us to read and study longer as the eyes and reading brain does not get tired as it would when black print in presented on white back ground. .

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    • Thanks for your comments and VERY interesting insight into the way our eyes work. I actually went and changed the color of the blog’s background to something a bit easier on the eyes – not quite yellow though. Sometimes design trumps practicality!

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  2. I think that this message is very important. So much of our society puts all of the emphasis on the “toys” that have no real value. Thank you for this lesson. Good Shabbos. Carole

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  3. Balaam was hired by Balak to curse the HEBREW people not the Jewish people, because Judah was not called Jewsh until after their captiity in Babylon.

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    • Thanks for your comments. Point well taken. I use the term “Jewish” so it sounds more relevant to Jews today. These are our ancestors, the nation we descend from, and using terms like Israelites, Hebrews, or even Children of Israel will project the feeling that these were a people we read about, but don’t see as our biological and cultural forefathers.

      Reply
  4. Living in tents should be the attitudes of all who believe in the Lord!

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  5. Great! There is no word to add!

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  6. This life is TENTative

    Reply

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