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In Melbourne Shabbat begins Fri 5 May 2017 05:10 PM and ends Sat 29 Apr 2017 06:16 PM
י"ג תמוז ה' אלפים תשע"ג
Removed - New private Eruv within Kimberley Chabad.
30-second dvar Torah for busy people: In this week's parshah, why does the Torah use the word "regalim" for "occasions" when it says that Bilaam struck his donkey on three occasions? And why did Bilaam strike his donkey three times? The Midrash tells us that the Torah uses the word "regalim" here to teach us that Bilaam wanted to destroy the nation that celebrates the three "Regalim" (Pesach, Shavuos, and Succos). Why? What is so special about these three Jewish holidays that Bilaam honed in on this specific attribute of the Jews?
A hint is found in one of Bilaam's prophesies: "Behold, it is a nation that will dwell in solitude." This may sound negative at first glance, but If we look deeper, we find that it is in fact positive. Rashi explains that our solitude is most evidence at times of joy. The Rabbis teach us that the greatest (the most real) simcha that Jews can experience is during the Chagim. That is the reason for the traditional greeting "Chag Sameach." And this is the greatest differentiator of people - what makes them happy (you learn a lot about a person when you ask him what makes him most happy in the world). For Jews, it is connecting to Hashem. For the other nations, it is ... (I'll let you fill in the blanks).
Bilaam honed in on the Jews' observance of the Chagim because he wanted to destroy what makes us different from the other nations - our ability to connect to Hashem (which is what brings a person true joy). The Rambam and others teach that it is only when we are disconnected from Hashem that we can be harmed. The Brisker Rav had a tradition from Rav Chaim Voloziner to focus on the concept "Ein oid m'l'vado" (there is nothing other than Him) for Divine protection in times of distress. Let's not wait for a time of distress and focus now on our connection to Hashem and rejoice in what makes us special and different from the other nations! And may this will bring Mashiach before Tisha B'Av so that the day will be filled with rejoicing instead of crying.
With thanks to Noah Klug