Balak: A Breach in the Wall



How are we to look at the recent events disrupting the world around us: A man in a commercial truck cold-bloodedly crushes throngs of innocent men, women and children enjoying their holiday on the promenade in Nice, France. A sniper picks-off police officers in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, another in Dallas, Texas. An attempted coup erupts in Turkey. In Israel, a young girl is slaughtered in her own bed in Kiryat Arba by an Arab teenager. A little while later, a rabbi is killed, father to ten holy children, now orphans, in Otniel. And that’s just the events of the last two weeks!

From one end of the globe to the next, existing walls and structures are being breached. From Brexit rupturing the EU to the upheavals in the current US presidential election, disruption is in the air.

What are we to make of these breaches in the walls of convention?

Today, the 17th of Tammuz, provides us with the answer. On this day 2,438 and 1,948 years ago respectively the walls of Jerusalem were breached, leading to the destruction of the two Temples three weeks later, on the 9th of Av. The 17th of Tammuz is therefore normally a fast day, but this year it has been upended and suspended by Shabbat (and instead we fast on Sunday).

Why do we commemorate the breaching of the walls (and not just the destruction of the Temples)? What is its significance?

Both the consequences of these breaches, and the fact that this year the fast is pushed off by Shabbat, teach us tremendous lessons about the breaches in our social order today.

We will learn that breaches are tremors leading to true change. It is up to us to determine how that change will manifest. We have the power to ensure that breaches, as painful as they may be, can lead us to a new world order.

It is time, dear friends, to suspend all lamentation and mourning forever by rebuilding walls wherever they are breached.


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