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The Elements of Jewish Living

The Vision of Bilaam

By Rabbi Yaacov Haber

Someone once told me a story about a young married man that had a daily Torah session with the venerable Rav Shlomo Zalman Aurebach of blessed memory.

One day the young man informed the famous rabbi that he wouldn’t be able to make it to their session the next morning because he and his wife had to check out an apartment down the street that they were seriously considering for purchase. To the young mans surprise the great Reb Shlomo Zalman asked the young man if he too could come along to visit the apartment. Although it seemed odd that this great Rosh Yeshiva who was sought after by thousands around the world would want to take of his time to participate in the very ordinary and mundane task of looking at a small apartment, of course he would not say no.

Sure enough the next morning, in front of the apartment building in Bayit Vagan the small group was assembling. The young man arrived straight from the synagogue with his Talis and Tefilin in hand, his young wife, who had just finished sending her little children off to school made her way to the apartment, the real estate broker with his cell phone and clipboard in hand and Rav Shlomo Zalman Aurebach!

The four toured the small apartment with all eyes on Reb Shlomo Zalman who remained silent the entire time. They left the apartment and the still startled yungerman walked his Rosh Yeshiva back to Yeshiva Kol Torah waiting to hear some rhyme or reason as to why Reb Shlomo Zalman wanted to come along. Finally, not able to contain his curiosity any longer he said, ‘Rebbe, it was an honor to have you join us this morning, but why?’

Reb Shlomo Zalman looked at him with his legendary smile and said, “being that you are considering making your life and bringing up your children in that little apartment, I wanted to participate by injecting a little ‘Ayin Tov’ (lit. good eye) into your future life and dwelling.”

We tend to understand the eye as an instrument that transfers information to the brain. Similar to the ears its function is intake. According to our teachings, however, the eyes have yet another function. They transfer energy, produced by the Neshama, outward into the world. When you look at an item or a person you are actually transferring some energy of your soul onto that item or person. If you transfer good soul energy it is called ‘Ayin HaTov’. If you transfer negative soul energy it is called ‘Ayin HaRa’. When we feel genuinely happy for another person’s successes and acquisitions we are giving them, through our eyes, a blessing. When we are full of jealousy,covetousness and hate we disadvantage them with an ‘Ayin HaRa’. (Ninety nine out of one hundred deaths are because of ayin hara. [ Bava Metziah107])

Before Moshe Rabbeinu passed away he asked G-d to let him climb on a mountain and just look at the Land of Israel. He thought about the history of Israel as it would unfold; the building and destructions of Jerusalem, the times of war, the times of peace and the final redemption of Israel. His heart was full of blessing for the Jewish people and the land of Israel. He wanted to transfer the blessings of his very big Neshama onto the people. “Let me just look at the Land” he said “and I will infuse it with blessing through my Ayin HaTov!”

“Anyone who possesses a good eye is considered a student of Abraham. Anyone who possesses an evil eye is of the students of Bilaam.” (Pirkei Avos 5;19).

There is nothing that the Jewish people need more of today than a little ‘Ayin Tov’.

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