Roy Neuberger - Jul. 19, 2019

 Bilaam was a novi.[1] A novi can give unique service to Hashem. His task in life is to transmit Hashem’s will and thereby elevate the entire world. But, like every opportunity, it is a two-edged sword. Spiritually-powerful people need humility in order to ensure that they use their power properly. Who was more powerful than Dovid Hamelech? Yet Dovid says, “I am a worm.” (Psalm 22)


Bilaam is trying to use his enormous spiritual power to destroy, G-d forbid, the beloved Children of the Creator of the Universe. How can brilliant people be such fools?


“The Torah of Hashem is perfect, restoring the soul. The testimony of Hashem is trustworthy, making the simple one wise.” (Psalm 19) Every Shabbos, when I say these words, I pray that Hashem will make me wise through His Torah. It is easy to let the yetzer hara take over, pushing us to go “acharei levavchem v’acharei ainaichem … after [our] heart and [our] eyes.” (Numbers 15:39) We can elevate ourselves through the struggle against our desires, but at the same time we cannot afford to lose; the stakes are eternal and infinite.


“When a person gains certain mental attitudes in this world, that’s what he takes with him into the Next World. The attitudes, the ideals … that you acquire in this world are what you take with you forever.” (Rabbi Avigdor Miller zt”l on Parshas Korach)


There is a science called “facial recognition technology,” which is widely used in China, where the government is trying to track every person at all times. By the year 2020, the government hopes to have 450 million surveillance cameras in place! Chinese citizens are reportedly happy with this “progress.” A locked door opens when the camera recognizes your face, and you will no longer need a passport; the police can easily track criminals. This technology is spreading throughout the world.


When I was a kid, we were all frightened by George Orwell’s book, “1984,” from which we learned the phrase, “Big Brother is watching you.” Now this is coming to pass.


I understand that this can be seen as a reminder that Above us is “a watchful eye, an attentive ear, and all your deeds are recorded in a book.” (Ethics of the Fathers 2:1) It is comforting to understand that Hashem is watching over us, but Big Brother is a different story.


When people like Bilaam believe they can run the world, life becomes precarious. Who, after all, is the criminal? Maybe Big Brother will decide that decent people are criminals and crime is normal. Did not Pharaoh suddenly decide that the Children of Israel were dangerous? Think how Hitler, may his name be ground to dust, would have used this technology!


My friends, we are living in a desperately dangerous world. We need to pray every minute for Hashem to save us and to understand that the only salvation will be the moment when “Torah will come forth from Zion and the word of Hashem from Yerushalayim!” (Yeshiah 2:3)


There is nothing else. “Ana Hashem Hoshia na … Hashem please save now!” (Psalm 118)


May we see the Final Redemption soon in our days!

[1] A prophet


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