No Limit For Infinity – Parashat Balak: When We Are Fed By Others’ Faiths
In Parashat Balak we are granted with the blessing “Ma Tovu”, which later will be adopted as the first sentence that we say every time we walk into a Jewish sanctuary.
2Balaam raised his eyes and saw Israel dwelling according to its tribes, and the spirit of God rested upon him.
3He took up his parable and said, “The word of Balaam the son of Beor and the word of the man with an open eye.
4The word of the one who hears God’s sayings, who sees the vision of the Almighty, fallen yet with open eyes.
5How goodly are your tents, O Jacob, your dwelling places, O Israel!
6They extend like streams, like gardens by the river, like aloes which the Lord planted, like cedars by the water
This blessing has an additional and beautiful dimension; the person saying this blessing is a non-Jew, who is in deep communication with God. In receiving blessing from this man we learn to recognize the capability of the other who is different, who has different knowledge and beliefs, to connect with God.
So every time we start out prayers in the synagogue, when we claim how beautiful our tents are, our house is, beauty which is gained by our meeting there, we are also recognizing that ours is but one of the possible channels to communicate with God. There, then, in this transition from the “outside” world, the universal, to the particular world of the Jewish prayer, we remember that God is one, but one that is infinite with a generosity of ways to deeply and sincerely approach Him.