Half of this was taken from a Shlomo Carlebach speech, half from the Kav HaYashar, and I tied in the rest 🙂 This was said at a small Kiddush.
Do you know what one of our biggest problems are today? Deep, deep down we think we can fool everyone. For example, at this Kiddush I see that, instead of bringing the single malt scotch, all that’s here is a half-finished bottle of Vodka! We’re not Lubavitchers, we’re Galitcianers. We notice these kinds of things 🙂
Now, by extension of thinking how we can get away with anything, many of us think we can fool G-d a little bit. We think we can get away with something, or we think the accountant there doesn’t write everything down. We think that G-d is maybe skipping a few pages, or we think that maybe G-d is just busy at this moment with traffic on the Allen or the 401.
What’s the first thing of being a real servant of G-d? I have to know that G-d is truly looking at me constantly. Let me ask you friends, what would we give to sometimes get away from God’s eyes for a minute?
It’s nerve-wracking. But do you know what G-d is doing? G-d says to me, “Listen, you don’t want me to look at you? Okay, I won’t!”
Now, imagine I go out on the street and I’m looking for a cab, and I find one right away. I’m coming to Pearson airport, looking for a plane to Chicago, and I find one leaving in five minutes. I arrive in Chicago and I have to make a reservation in a hotel. I got to the first hotel I see ‘yes sir, we have an opening for you’. The next morning we have to make a meeting, the person is on the phone waiting for you. You see what I mean, sometimes life flows like a river.
Now the other side. Imagine I’m going out on the street, my plane is at 8 o’clock, and at 7 o’clock I need a cab. It’s 10 after 7, 20 after 7, no cab. Finally 8 o’clock I have a cab, I missed the flight. I’m coming to Chicago at 12 o’clock at night, can’t get a hotel anywhere.
What should I do? I’m trying to call up people, nobody is home. I’m lying all night at the airport, the next morning I’m calling up the person I came for. We are supposed to have a meeting. He says ‘what? It’s next week, not this week’. So here I am trying to get back to Toronto. Everything is crazy, don’t ask.
What is going on here, what is the first side and what is the second side?
So this is one of the very deep principles of the Rambam. G-d looks at you the way you look at Him. If I constantly look at G-d then G-d always has his eyes open also at me. I can walk down the street, I have a cab waiting for me, everything goes like a river. But if I say ‘G-d, can you maybe leave me a little bit alone, I’m a little bit uncomfortable. Can you look away?’. G-d says ‘okay, do your own thing,
get along without me’. I’m standing like a dope and I’m waiting for a cab for an hour.
Let’s go one step deeper.
Imagine if you did something wrong to your best friend. Do you want them to look at you all the time? You don’t, you don’t want to see them and you don’t want them to see you. So the Zohar Hakadosh says after we do something wrong we don’t want G-d to look at us. G-d says
‘okay, I won’t look at you’. But what happens when I do tshuvah? I say ‘please G-d, I cannot manage without you. I want you to always look my way’.
So here come our portion of the week. In G-dly knowledge, Bilaam had the same knowledge as Moshe Rabbeinu, but Bilaam thought that you can really do what you want to, you know why? Because G-d doesn’t look all the time.
This is why Bilaam turned to sorcery. Turning to sorcery means committing to the Sitra Achara full force. According to the Kav HaYashar which quotes the Zohar, for Bilaam to do so, he had to turn to Uzza and Azael, submit to snakes with snake- and chicken-derived incenses, and lie carnally with his donkey. All this in exchange for information from the Sitra Achara, as it’s known that future events are told in advance to Angels and Demons.
Just as a footnote, I see a correlation between Bilaam thinking that getting information from snakes will make him know everything (and not need G-d), and Chava taking the Pri Etz Hadaas from a snake thinking that she will know everything like G-d (and not need Him), but that’s another story.
In any case, when it comes to Moshe Rabbeinu? Panim El Panim, literally face to face. No need to ask G-d to hide, that one can do everything oneself.
We should take this lesson and realize that, while we must put in 110% Hishtadlus, everything can go wrong in an instant without G-d’s help. It’s all in His hands. Gut Shabbos.