“Prophet or Manipulator?”
17 Tammuz 5776
The Torah teaches us that manipulation is like sorcery and this would best describe Bilaam the Gentile prophet. King Balak realized that Israel could not be stopped from conquering the land through traditional methods or standard weapons as most of the Arab nations are learning today because there is a supernatural power protecting them. The only limitation placed upon His protection is the actual behaviour of the people themselves. A few months ago ‘An alternate Lifestyle’ Parade was held in Tel Aviv and most recently a second parade took place in Jerusalem. In the portion Balak and the next we see the destruction that comes to Israel due to sexual immorality. Our Creator has called us to a higher standard than the other nations yet Israel continually prefers to be like the other nations. The problem is that we are too politically, sociologically, theologically correct while the Torah teaches us to be morally and ethically correct. The world prefers man’s ideas of correctness. Bilaam knew that the only way that Israel could be destroyed was from within and later we see that due to the lewdness of Israel, they were destroying their calling of being light to the world. Israel is not to be counted with all the other nations. They were to be unique and different. Bilaam was trying to destroy the one unique nation which had the purpose of bringing light to the world. Is Israel bringing light to the world? We need to examine ourselves. I believe the Creator is bringing more people who were formerly not His people to be His people.
If God has called you to be part of His people, whether you like it or not, you are to be different than others in attitude and behavior. You do not need to bow your head to man, but to bow to Him. That is a very difficult requirement. When I lived in Israel, the great majority of secular Israelis prefer to lose their identity as Jews and instead to be conformed to the rest of the world. Being an Israeli, a Jew brings too many responsibilities and battles. We who are believers and followers of the God of Israel constantly have to battle with the ideals and standards of this world. Our standards are founded in the Torah. It has nothing to do with being better of more spiritual. A true Israelite is a Shomer Torah- a keeper of the Torah, the source of life; it is the revelation of our Creator to His people.
I have been telling you that we need to renew ourselves and remove all the isms, to get back to basics. That means to have a personal relationship with our Creator. The most important thing that we have is the gift of life and free will; the capacity to decide for ourselves. We are not machines, robots. We do not need to follow man but to follow Him. This is the difference between someone who is so religious and someone who walks with Him, who walks humbly with the Creator realizing the separation between Him and us. Bilaam missed the point. He was given a very special gift and could have been a blessing to all the people. Instead he was self centered and only wanted to get as much as he could for himself. Today we see the moral deterioration of not only the world but the people of Israel. In their desire to be counted as a regular nation at the United Nations, they are trying to eliminate the role that was given to them by the Creator. They are interchanging this important position for the acceptance of the world. That is a big mistake. My people, you do not need to be accepted by this world; you need to be accepted by Him. Don’t play politician, trying to be everything to everyone. Don’t be religious or pious when it is not required of you. Don’t be a show-off but be yourself. Be what our Creator has called you to be. We as humans all have the potential to fail. We constantly fail but we are able to start again. This is the message of teshuva. The name Israel means to be in constant struggle with our Creator. We would not have to deal with this if we were robots or were perfect but because He loves us, He allows us to make our own choices and to return His love. It is so important to understand how special you are. You have nothing to prove to anyone. Religions manipulate you by offering you goodies in order to follow them and threatening that unless you do you will be destroyed. Our Creator offers us the opportunity to walk along side Him but to know that nothing is free; there is a cost…it is loyalty, responsibility and unconditional love.