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    Every Jew is messianic – Balak

    starsA snatch of poetry in this week’s reading tell us, Darach kochav miYa’akov – “A star steps out of Jacob: a scepter arises from Israel” (Num. 24:17).

    Many people follow a view stated in the Yerushalmi in applying this verse to the Mashi’ach.

    An alternative view is that the verse refers to every Jew. In this case the implication is clear: any ordinary member of the Jewish people (“Ya’akov”) can be the star who will turn out to be the promised Messiah or at least make the world ready for the Messiah’s arrival and the world’s redemption.

    Maybe it’s human nature to belittle other people and write them off as unimportant and of no consequence. I once had a synagogue president who judged his members by their tie and their shoes. He ruled out a candidate for the post of cantor because he was wearing a red tie; he was against giving someone an Aliyah to the Torah because he was wearing brown shoes.

    You can always find a disqualification in the other person – even, or especially, in yourself. But, to borrow a rabbinic phrase, how do you know that your blood is redder than his? If God can put up with a person, why can’t you?

    The Torah can see some good and potential in the most ordinary person, regardless of their tie or shoes. How can you be certain that the Mashi’ach will not be wearing a red tie or brown shoes?

    Maybe the Messiah won’t be wearing a tie at all, or shoes either (surely you remember that when Moses stood at the Burning Bush, God told him to take his shoes off because that spot of earth was holy ground).

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