Parashat Balak: The First Thing we say in Davening Each Morning

[Tal Chermon]

Our first meeting with the Creator in the morning is the verse "How goodly are your tents, Yaakov.” This is how our daily davening begins – with a verse that points to Jewish modesty. How so? Because the entrances of Yaakov’s “goodly” tents did not face one another, and thus prevented intrusions upon the privacy of other families (Rashi on Bamidbar 24:5).

And yet the verse comes from the mouth of an evil person who was completely corrupt: Bilaam. This is a person who had relations with his donkey (Sanhedrin 105b), who was punished in Gehinom for his sexually activity (Gittin 56b) and who caused the Jewish People to sin with the daughters of Moav (Bamidbar 24:14 with Rashi) though he clearly knew that their G-d hated harlotry (Sanhedrin 106a). But when Bilaam experienced a spiritual elevation, through the hand of Hashem which rested upon him, he clearly recognized the modesty which is deeply ingrained within the Jewish nature. He was so amazed by it that he began his third prophecy – the most elevated of all – with this praising of their modesty. Recognizing and acknowledging our essential modesty is how we meet our Creator each and every morning.