Skip to main content

Thought for the Day: Mah Bein Rasha la'Tzadik? Rasha is Always Right; Tzadik is Always Wrong

The world says a stopped clock is right twice a day.  That's not true, of course.  It's simply that twice a day that time on the clock is no different than the actual time.  A running clock, on the other hand, is nearly always wrong.  Any clock runs slightly fast or slow or uneven; even the most advanced atomic clock will lose or gain as much as a few nanoseconds per century.

Bilaam was riding along on his donkey, his favorite donkey, who inexplicably and suddenly pushed Bilaam's foot into a wall (bamidbar, 22:24-...).  Rashi, right on the spot, tells us: generic walls (geder) are made of stone.  Umm... ok... and therefore?  But Rashi is not finished.  Whew!  Rashi adds a proof text from Mishlei.  Oh, well, then; that clears things up. (Do you detect the faint hint of sarcasm?)  A few p'sukim later the  angel heading Bilaam off at the pass tell him to proceed to his destination (and, as it turns out, destiny).  Rashi now tells us that "from hear Chazal demonstrate that a person is lead along the path he desires".  Awesome.

What's going on here?  As it turns out, very big things are going on here.  Bilaam has been finding all sorts of excuses to proceed on a mission that is very, very obviously not what HaShem wants.  Somehow Bilaam always finds a way to warp the d'var HaShem to be telling him to proceed.  Now his donkey pushes him against a wall; a wall that is restricting his travel to a very narrow path.  A wall made of stones, because that's the usual building  material for walls (g'darim).

Now look at Targum Yonasan; this wall is not a random wall that Bilaam just happened into.  This is the wall built by Lavan and Yaakov as the symbol of their treaty.  Gilad -- the testimony wall; aka y'gar sahadusa; the only aramaic words in Chumash.  To be sure we all know that this wall was very well know to Lavan and his descendants.  Bilaam was not only a descendant of Lavan, but actually a gilgul.  So even though nothing else is getting through... certainly this message should get through to Bilaam.  Ah!  Bilaam feels a recognition of the wall, then tells himself, "Wait!  Most walls are made of stone.  Who says this is that wall?"  Perfect; Bilaam is on his way; the way he wants to go even though all evidence is to the contrary.

That's the great thing about being a Rasha; you can always find some way to justify your actions.  That's all the discomfort of being a Tzadik; you always see you are not yet perfect.  So this world and the next are nothing but frustration for the Rasha.  This world and the next are nothing but growth for the Tzadik.

You get what you pay for.


Popular posts from this blog

Thought for the Day: Battling the Evil Inclination on all Fronts

Yom Kippur.  When I was growing up, there were three annual events that marked the Jewish calendar: eating matzos on Passover, lighting candles on Chanuka, and  fasting on Yom Kippur.  Major news organizations around the world report on the "surreal" and "eerie" quiet of the streets in even the most secular neighborhoods of Israel.  Yom Kippur.

As you know, I am observant of Jewish law.  Some have even called me "ultra orthodox" (not in a kind way).  Given that, I have a question.  How likely do you think that I would be tempted to eat on Yom Kippur, that most holy day of the year?  Let's make the scale zero to ten, where zero is "as likely as driving through McDonald's on Shabbos and ordering a Big Mac with extra cheese." and ten is "as likely as breathing regularly".  Take your time.  If you answered "zero"; thank you, but -- sadly and penitently -- no.  The answer is more like nine; I'd like to say lower, but i…

Thought for the Day: Coming Into This World for Torah, Avodah, and Acts of Loving Kindness

This TftD is so self-serving that I should be embarrassed.  But I am not... talking about grandchildren is always off budget.  I have, bli ayin hara, a beautiful new grandson; born at 6:11 PM CDT last Friday night.  The secular (aka -- by me, anyway -- slave) date is October 20, 2017 CE.  The Hebrew (aka Real) date is certainly Rosh Chodesh חשון/Cheshvan and certainly in the year 5778 since Creation.  The date, you ask... good question!

Sundown on Friday night was 6:01 PM CDT, which means he was born either at the end of the last day of תשרי or the beginning of the first day of Cheshvan; a period know as בין השמשות/twilight.  What's the big deal, you ask... I am so glad you asked.  We all deal quite handily with בין השמשות every week and every holiday; we're just stringent.  We start Shabbos and the first day of Yom Tov before בין השמשות; that is, before sundown.  Likewise, we end Shabbos and the first day of Yom Tov after בין השמשות; some 42, 50, 60, or 72 minutes after sundo…

Thought for the Day: Prayer II -- How?

Now that we know that the obligation to pray is nothing more (nor less!) than a divine decree, we are going to also need instructions from heaven on how to implement that decree.  I cannot stress enough how important it is to have instruction from heaven how to implement heavenly decrees.  One only needs to look at the shambles that one modern ism has made of the very important Torah principle of תיקון עולם/improving and fixing the world.  They have taken words out of context and used them to support their own nefarious schemes.  (To the point that Google Translate actually translates -- not transliterates -- תיקון עולם as Tikkun Olam.  Amelia Bedelia would be proud; we are not amused.

The Torah teaches us how to pray in two complementary fashions.  One is the way in which the concept is presented as an obligation, the other is by giving us examples of how to practically implement those instructions.

The obligation is introduced in the second paragraph of "sh'ma" -- וּלְ…