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A Beautiful Safe Haven – Parshas Balak 5771

Posted by Rabbi Yosef Tropper
July 7th, 2011
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This entry is part 40 of 40 in the series Torah Sweets Volume 3

One of the most famous of all lines in the Torah was uttered by Bilaam’s mouth in this week’s Parsha: “Mah Tovu O’Halecha Yaakov, Miskinosecha Yisrael, how beautiful are the tents of Yaakov, the dwelling places of Israel (Bamidbar 24:5).” What was he referring to?

The Gemara (Bava Basra 60a) states that Bilaam was praising the Jews for their tznius, private and modest way in which their tents were pitched. Their tent doors each faced away from one another so that each person could maintain their privacy. The Gemara in Sanhendrin (105b) states that Bilaam was cursing them that they should not have Shuls. What is being stated here?

Rabbi Moshe Feinstein zt”l (1895-1986) states that these two ideas are one and the same. Bilaam saw the strength of the Jewish home and stated that this being the case they had no need for public Shuls. In truth however there are two aspects of Chinuch, one inside the house and the other outside. It is so important for the child to be educated and shown the meaningful and enjoyable ways of the Torah inside the home. It is also important for the child to be in a positive atmosphere of good influences and healthy friends. Education takes place in and out of the home in a safe Torah environment.

I believe that these two points are hinted in the verse itself. “How great are your tents,” refers to the private homes of the Jews, the Mikdash Mi’at. “Your dwelling places,” refers to the public Shuls of the Jews. We strive to provide the greatest and warmest atmosphere in both. The Jewish home is a safe and secure place where Jewish Neshamos are nurtured and shown the truth and beauty of Torah. The Jewish Shul is the place that one connects with fellow Ovdei Hashem to inspire one another to grow.


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