להתיצב
 
There are a few Hebrew verbs that can mean to show up. One is לְהוֹפִיע (le-hoh-FEE-ah), or literally, to appear. You’d use that one in the context of she showed up at the party – הִיא הוֹפִיעָה בַּמְּסִיבָּה (hee hoh-FEE-ah bah-meh-see-BAH).
 
Another sense of “showing up” is he showed up at the (army) base – הוּא הִתְיַצֵּב בַּבָּסִיס (hoo heet-yah-TSEHV bah-bah-SEES). This is the more formal usage of “showing up,” coming from the root י.צ.ב (y.ts.b) which carries the concept of stablity
 
חיילים בצבא
The guy on the right is Josh Churney,
my housemate and a soldier who helps keep Israel stable… and safe.

 

 
 
 
Why do I write about this word – להתייצב – today? Because it appears in this week’s Torah portion, which has some important content I’d like to share with you.
 
Here’s the storyline: An angel of God with a drawn sword stands firm – מִתְייצֵב (meet-yah-TSEHV) – in the riding path of Bil’am (בִּלְעָם – beel-AHM) and his donkey. Bil’am’s donkey sees the angel, but Bil’am doesn’t. The donkey gets scared and moves around, plops itself down on the ground… but since Bil’am doesn’t see the angel, he gets frustrated and beats the donkey. The donkey then speaks to Bil’am, expressing her pain and sense of betrayal, but Bil’am doesn’t listen and continues beating her – until his “eyes are open” (a translation from the Biblical text) and he suddenly sees what his donkey has been reacting to.
 
Children’s stories, as I learned this week in my Level 5 class from one my wonderful students who presented on a children’s book with a universal message, sometimes convey to kids (as well as adults) some of the most crucial messages they need to live in this world.


Says Stephen Covey, author of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, “adults are big children.”
 
This children’s tale placed smack in the middle of the Torah carries one of the most important messages the Book of Books has to convey – in my opinion, the most important message that our age needs to internalize and act upon.
 
Bil’am has no idea that an angel of God is standing before him. He doesn’t see what the donkey sees. Therefore, he has no compassion for his faithful servant and long-time friend, and proceeds to act on the anger that instinctively arises.
 
I think the message is clear: When we don’t listen to others… when we don’t consider their point of view… when our hearts are closed to their emotional overtones and we act on our anger… we are liable to hurt them, sometimes even destroy an otherwise wonderful relationship. This stuff can destroy the world.
 
On the other hand, when we do listen to others with our hearts… when we consider their point of view with our full attention… when we open our hearts and just be with them without judging them… we begin to see a whole new world…  
 
And the world begins to change for the better.


This is a big piece of my personal work… and when I do it, it pays dividends.

שבת שלום – Shabbat Shalom