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This article on the portion of the week was originally published in 2019.
Have you ever experienced a time when you thought something was the end of the world, yet turned out to be a blessing? We have all heard the phrase, “a blessing in disguise.” Why does the Creator need to send us blessings concealed? All of this relates to our inability, at times, to see the truth. Even physically, science tells us that the eyes do not see correctly, but invert the images. The brain is responsible to correct and flip what the eyes see. In this way, we know that fundamentally, it will take effort and spiritual wisdom in order to understand and see what is truly in front of us. In this week’s portion, the prophet Bilaam was unable to see an angel of God that was standing right in front of him, although his donkey could. Humility will remind us that we do not always see what we think we see. Oftentimes, we see what we prefer to see. It is when we learn to see with our hearts, rather than with our own personal agendas, that we are able to see the truth. This week, we are given the gift to transform our nature. We are able to open our hearts and learn to view the world through a lens of love and humility instead of entitlement and self-interest. This transformation will allow us to see the Light that is all around us.
"The Creator made us exactly perfect as we are."
This week, our portion to guide us through the coming week, is Balak. Balak saw the miracles and successes of the Israelites. He saw all they had done and the enemies they had conquered and he had become afraid of them. Balak had what was called, “an evil eye.” The power of hatred and jealousy was within him. He was only able to think of himself, his needs, and his agenda. In this way, there was no opening for him to see anything but himself; the truth would always evade him. He decided to enlist the forces of the negative prophet Bilaam. Balak thought that together, with his evil eye and Bilaam’s power to curse, they could successfully overtake and destroy the Israelites. The portion of Balak is about, on the surface, negativity, but in the greater picture it is about the protection from this negativity and the power to even transform it. It always is sent to us from the Creator during the time of Cancer, when our ruling celestial body is the moon. The moon is a rock that is totally absent of Light; it does not give, only receives. It is in this way we can come to see how our two villainous characters are a lot like the moon. However, the moon is able to shine when a transformation occurs. There is hope for every trace of darkness to turn into Light. Balak and Bilaam initiated their pursuit to destroy the Israelites, but with every curse they conjured and every prayer of negativity they created, they were unable to curse the Israelites. The Creator was protecting the Israelites from the forces of Balak and Bilaam. Bilaam was more elevated then Balak. Bilaam was always warning Balak that he would not be able to curse the Israelites for they were protected. Bilaam could see he would only be able to bless them. Nevertheless, Balak persisted. Eventually, after three attempts to curse the Israelites, Bilaam actually blessed them further. Balak's plan had been foiled. During the process, Bilaam began to actually transform himself. He increasingly became connected to the Light and was able to see the truth. It was because of this, his heart opened, he connected with the Creator, and was a channel for blessings, rather than curses.
"Blessings will always flow our way and we will be protected from any negative forces."
The portions of the Torah we read each week are alive and in real time. We may think we are reading about people who lived thousands of years ago, but in fact, we are reading about ourselves. We have Balak and Bilaam within each of us. We also have the purity of Moses and the Light force of the Creator inside us, as well. It is always a matter of what we choose as our connection and source. Our hidden agendas and our own selfishness give us a false hope that we are serving ourselves. The influence of the moon, this month, is what the kabbalists call, “the desire to receive for the self alone.” It is this innate quality that we all have and the Creator gave to us. It is the desire to receive that we all share and allows us to draw spiritual Light. The Creator made us exactly perfect as we are. However, we asked the Creator to send us to this world so we could have the opportunity to transform our desire into giving. We desired to become a being of giving, not just of receiving. It is because of this that the spiritual law of this world exists that in order to receive we must actually initiate and develop our ability to share and give. Instead of a closed heart that only thinks of itself and what it can take, we are able to develop an open and loving heart interested in what it can give to others and the world. This transformation is what, in this world, turns on the Light and allows us to receive. The paradox is there. Just like the moon, it can only receive Light when it reflects it and gives it back. Without this transformation, the Light simply disappears into space. We, too, can receive even more when we learn to give. Balak and Bilaam could not see. They only saw what they wanted to see. They could not see that the Israelites were blessed with the ability to make the transformation that awakens a kind, open, and loving heart. They had this power to remove their hidden agendas and become beings of sharing. This has always been why people are blessed, rather than cursed. When we connect to the part of the Creator that is within, the part that desires to love and give, blessings will always flow our way and we will be protected from any negative forces.
This week in our meditations, we visit the beautiful monarch butterfly. Deep within its cocoon, a transformation of the grandest sense occurs. First it begins as a caterpillar, walking on the face of the earth. Then it undergoes its transformation in which it becomes a beautiful creature capable of flight. It emerges from a cocoon, once bound to the earth, soaring through the air with its beauty, lightness, and splendor. Understand that we are all like this monarch butterfly. We can come to the world one way and leave it another. We can learn to fly. This transformation is possible when we open our heart and choose love over hatred. We choose to give an eye of goodness instead of an eye of evil. We choose to bless, and not curse. We choose to help those in need, not turn away from their outstretched hands. The month of Cancer gives us the power of sensitivity and nurturing so that we can make this vital transformation. A transformation that benefits the world, others, but, as always, benefits ourselves the most. For when we bless, we are blessed. It is the very reason we came to this world, to emerge from our cocoons having done our holy work of transforming darkness into Light.