“How beautiful are your tents, Jacob,
your dwelling places, Israel!” — Numbers 24:5
The Torah portion for this week is Balak, after the king of the Moabites, from Numbers 22:2–25:9, and the Haftorah is from Micah 5:6–6:8.
The ancient philosopher Confucius once said, “The strength of a nation derives from the integrity of the home.” More than individuals make a home, a home makes an individual. Our homes mold and shape our beliefs, values, and character. Wars and politics may influence the way of the world, but it’s our homes that truly decide the direction this world will take.
In this week’s Torah reading, Balaam, a mystic hired by King Balak to curse the children of Israel, blessed the nation instead. As Balaam stood on a mountain overlooking the nation of Israel encamped in the desert, he opened his mouth in an attempt to curse them (for the third time!), but this is what came out: “How beautiful are your tents, Jacob, your dwelling places, Israel!”
The Jewish sages teach that Balaam noticed how the tents of the Jews in the desert were carefully aligned so that no one could see into anyone else’s home. Balaam wanted to curse the Jewish people, but because of their modesty and morality, he was unable to do so.
Balaam’s blessing demonstrates the power of the home. More than a physical shelter, our homes have the potential to protect us wherever we go. When we teach values, kindness, and morality in our homes, both with words and also by example, our homes extend beyond their four walls to the four corners of the earth!
Wherever we go, and wherever our children go, we are protected by the values that we learned in our homes. We are directed by the teachings that we picked up at home, and therefore, we will never be lost and can always find our way. We may leave our house, but we can never truly leave our home.
So we must work to make our homes a place that, little by little, can change the entire world for good. What we share in our homes eventually makes its way out into the world. The people who we love, shape, and nurture in our homes go out to be the future parents and leaders of the next generation.
Make your home a place where God’s Word is studied and honored, a space where the culture is kindness. Make your home warm, inviting, and comforting. Let prayers be heard throughout our homes, day and night. When we create homes that are filled with godliness and goodness, eventually the world will be that way, too.
With prayers for shalom, peace,
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein
Founder and President