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Make time for reflection in fast-paced modern life



Rabbi Danny Sackstein

The Chofetz Chaim (Rabbi Yisrael Meir Kagan HaCohen 1839-1933) answers this question with a majestic thought. The Torah is not a continuous flow of text, there are breaks between the paragraphs. The sages teach us that these breaks indicate that Moshe stopped after various events in his life to reflect. Moshe understood the importance of achieving a stillness in one’s being, the value of integrating our experiences.

Parshas Balak is the only sedra in the Torah where there are no breaks in the text. The narrative is one continuous flow. The Chofetz Chaim explains that G-d commanded Moses to write the Parsha of Balak with no breaks to hint about the cause of the downfall of Bilaam. Bilaam never stopped running. In spite of being exposed to the most awesome spiritual experience on offer to a human being – direct communication from G-d – Bilaam did not slow down to integrate and reflect. Consequently, these experiences had no impact on his character.

This is a frightening thought. We can go through earth shattering experiences, and miss the point entirely. We all need to work on the skill of being quiet, blocking out the noise, and thinking.

Shabbat is a gift from G-d that facilities this change of gear. It should give us the opportunity once a week to stop and think. It is so important for all of us to build the muscle of reflection into our lives. Without it, we will get lost in the maze of modern living.

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