Chukas/Balak – Clarifying Comes to Clarity

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One might think it is obvious that the best teacher one can possibly have is Hashem Himself. However, Hashem thinks otherwise in this week’s haftorah for Chukas and Balak, which takes place in the Book of Micha.

In the middle of the Haftorah, Hashem sends Micha to the Jewish people to “verbally fight” against them for rebelling against Him, right around when the First Beis HaMikdash was destroyed. “Hear ye, O mountains, the controversy of Hashem; and you mighty ones, the foundations of the earth; for Hashem has a controversy with His people, and with Israel He shall contend. O My people, what have I done, and how have I wearied you? Testify against Me. For I brought you up out of the land of Egypt and redeemed you from the house of slavery, and I sent before you Moses, Aaron, and Miriam” (Micha 6:2-4).

Hashem goes on to say in the next pasuk, which is the link to this week’s Torah portion, “My people, remember now what Balak king of Moab planned, and what Bilaam the son of Beor answered him. From Shittim to Gilgal, may you recognize the righteous deeds of the Lord.” The Haftorah concludes with the fact that Hashem does not want their sacrifices and offerings but rather, “He has told you, O man, what is good, and what Hashem demands of you; but to do justice, to love loving-kindness, and to walk discreetly with your G-D” (Micha 6:8).
When Hashem first claims ‘what have I done wrong to you,’ and He reminds them of how He took them out of Egypt with great leaders, the Ibn Ezra says an amazing thing! Hashem is telling the Jews of the time, “That only a tremendous favor did I do for you when I elevated you and took you out by means of a person who can speak with you and tell you all you need to know, and to inform you of My ways. This was Moshe who came to Pharaoh and Aharon who prophesied for the Jews before Moshe came and Miriam who prophesied for the women. Also, the Torah was given through the hand of Moshe, and Aharon who was his spokesman. Both taught the mitzvos to the men and Miriam to the women. For the word of Hashem was with him face to face just as a person speaks to his friend mouth to mouth, and not in a dream or vision, or with riddles. This is a great favor and is amazing, for the words were clear like a father to his son and a rabbi to his student.” (Click here for Hebrew text.)
Hashem challenges the Jewish people: ‘how can you rebel against me? I did so many favors for you and acted so kindly towards you, for example, I brought you out of Egypt and taught you the Torah through emissaries, not directly.’ Why was sending emissaries a kindness and a favor? Imagine watching videos of the most perfect orator, who spoke clearly and eloquently, better than you can imagine. Isn’t that exactly a depiction of what Hashem could have done, through dreams, visions or prophetic riddles, if Hashem were to have Himself given the instructions to leave Egypt, to each person, and taught each of them the Torah? How much better could it have gotten?

However we all know that the video sometimes is scratchy; there can be a blip in the system; the audio is bad; the bandwidth is weak. So as perfect of a speaker as He might be, there is a possibility of a glitch in our system, and of some disparity in understanding that might come about. So too if the Jewish people would not have had Moshe, who was on such a high level of prophesy, unlike anyone else, learning and getting direction from Hashem “face-to-face,” where he could question and clarify matters with Hashem, “mouth to mouth” and then teach it to Aharon and Miriam in order to help spread it to the masses so they could also question and clarify, then the Jewish people would have had to rely on their individual interpretations of dreams or visions or prophesy on lower, possibly unclear, levels, depending on where everyone was holding. In receiving direction and the Torah from Hashem directly they would not be able to respond back,  since they weren’t on the same level as Moshe was, to properly respond to Hashem. Therefore, it was a tremendous favor of Hashem to send Moshe, Aharon, and Miriam as His emissaries on His behalf to take them out of Egypt and teach them the Torah.

We see from here how important it is to have a father or rabbi in your life that you can talk to ask questions and clarify matters so they will be clear. Just watching videos, even if the speakers seem to be very clear, or reading books, even if you think they are clearly understandable, will not put you in the proper framework to serve Hashem properly compared to having someone who you can turn to and not be afraid to ask questions, as well as help you make applications to other matters, and to be sure you are doing the right thing. If Hashem could say it was better for them to have Moshe, Aharon, and Miriam as their guide and teacher, though it doesn’t make a difference how great they were, they still aren’t G-D, then it shows the opportunity to have a relationship with a rabbi to a student or a father to a son must be priceless. All the more so in our day and age even if our mentors and teachers aren’t as clear as professional speakers, but the professional speakers and expert writers aren’t G-D either.

 Bottom line the opportunity to be able to clarify matters, the give and take on a personal level to ensure clarity and to be able to apply one’s self is the best way to ensure you are doing the right thing and serving Hashem properly.
Take advantage!