Gilui Anayim (Uncovered eyes)
“The words of one..who sees..with uncovered eyes.” Numbers 24:4
On Wednesday July 1st, my family and I arrived in Bedford. After months of planning and dreaming we feel very blessed and excited to be celebrating our first Shabbat with you, the Temple Shaaray Tefilah community.
Our weekly Torah portion, Balak, contains the beautiful Jewish prayer “Ma Tovu.”
And then with his eyes uncovered Balam said “Ma Tovu, Ohalecha Yaakov, Mishkanotecha Yisrael” How goodly are your tents oh Jacob, your dwelling places oh Israel.”
The Talmud teaches that whenever a person enters a synagogue, we should say the words of “Ma Tovu.” Why? I think it is to remind us to be like Bilam. To see things as they really are. Not just to see through the lenses of our own pre-conceptions. But to see with uncovered eyes (Gilui Aynayim.) To see the good deeds of others, and to let that inspire us that we too are capable of growth and transformation, like Jacob who grew into Israel, and the tents that become the sacred sanctuaries that help us to feel the presence of God in our lives.
“Ma Tovu” “How goodly are your tents” – could well describe this community. I have seen over the past few days countless acts of kindness, love and goodness as you have embraced my family, my wife and children, whom you had never met before. You have aided us with meals, beds, games, toys, even a few potted-plants to help my children put down roots in the community.
My prayer is that together we might create “Miskenotecha Yisrael,” a community in which the presence of God is felt through our deeds of loving kindness.
Rabbi David, Deborah, Isaac, Eliora and Rafi Wilfond