Messages from Rabbi Russo

July 22, 2016 - 16 Tamuz

In one of the most comical scenes in the Torah, Balaam, a sorcerer, cannot find his way and is guided by a talking donkey.  Balaam is on a mission from the King of Moab, Balak, to curse the Israelites.  The commentator, Beit Ramah as quoted in the Etz Hayim, asks, "Why didn't Balak hire Balaam to bless his own people rather than to curse Israel (since 'whom you bless is blessed indeed,' (verse 6)? He was so consumed by hatred that he forgot about his people's needs and could think only about hurting his enemy."  I think this question and his message are just as relevant today.  There are heightened tensions and emotions as the Republican National Convention was held this week and the Democratic National Convention will be held next week.  When the stakes seem so high, there is a tendency to want to curse candidates who make us uneasy.  There can be fine lines between advocating for what we feel is right and hateful speech towards others.  I am amazed by the array of political views even within our small community. In a time of heightened awareness and political campaigning, may we look to highlight the blessings instead of cursing those we disagree with. 
Shabbat Shalom