How Good

What a special phrase in this weeks’ portion at the beginning of the summer vacation: מַה טֹּבוּ אֹהָלֶיךָ יַעֲקֹב, מִשְׁכְּנֹתֶיךָ יִשְׂרָאֵל (“How good are your tents, Jacob, your dwelling places, Israel”). This is what Balaam says about us in this week’s portion, Balak. He looks at the nation of Israel and praises its tents, that is – the wonderful homes that he sees: the privacy, the gentleness, the investment of time and energy, the family relationships.
The months of July-August are a big challenge for the home. Time off of school, leaving the daily structure, boredom, testing of boundaries, fights, wasting time, and to top it off- the heat. For many parents (unlike in the month of Adar), when July comes, the joy is decreased…
The commentators of this Portion explain the deep blessing of Balaam: The home is the real place in which man is tested. Not outside, in the public sphere, not on stages or on Facebook, but in one’s own tent, in one’s own home, inside. In our relationships with our parents, with our spouse, with our children – in these relationships our inner character is revealed. There, we cannot lie or pose as someone else. There – between the living room sofa and brushing the childrens’ teeth – is a constant workshop in self perfection of our Middot (character traits).
Praying that we may be able to say about our own homes: “How good are your tents, Jacob, your dwelling places, Israel”.
Have a successful summer vacation!

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סיון רהב-מאיר

Sivan Rahav-Meir is a media personality and lecturer. Married to Yedidya, the mother of five. Lives in Jerusalem. She works for Israel TV news, writes a column for Yediot Aharonot newspaper, and hosts a weekly radio show on Galei Zahal (Army Radio). Her lectures on the weekly Torah portion are attended by hundreds and the live broadcast attracts thousands more listeners throughout the world.
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