This week, Raise Your Spirits Theatre zoomed back into action, auditioning and soon casting its newest production, COUNT THE STARS – The Journey of Avraham and Sara.
The entire search for the perfect folks for each role in Avraham and Sara’s story has been enjoyable (even if we had to listen to “Do You Wanna Build a Snowman” ten times) and challenging (How do we choose? Everyone is terrific in her way).
And what about the timing?
Well, precisely this week’s Pirkei Avot (Ethics of the Fathers) Chapter 5 reminds us how special and pivotal a character Avraham was, contrasting him to the sorcerer Bilam, about whom we read in this week’s portion of the Torah.
Mishnah 19 says, “Whoever has the following three qualities is of the disciples of Avraham Avinu, and whoever has the three opposite qualities is of the disciples of the evil Bilam: A good eye, a humble spirit and a modest soul makes him of the disciples of Avraham Avinu, whereas an evil eye, a haughty spirit and a greedy soul makes him of the disciples of the evil Bilam….”
Our Patriarch Avraham tried to see the good in each person. He took each person under his wing, and taught him the righteousness of G-d’s ways. He opened his tent and his heart to all. Hashem gave Avraham a unique gift, he was made a blessing. Not only could he bless others, all those who blessed him became blessed. (And anyone who cursed him would be cursed by G-d Himself.)
Bilam on the other hand, had an evil eye. The prophet of the 70 nations, Bilam could have been an example of belief in G-d and His ways. He could have been the nations’ “Avraham”. Instead, Bilam used his special talents to curse, instead of bless. He was able to determine the exact instant when G-d is angry, so that he could curse his victim at that moment, and subject him to Hashem’s Divine judgment.
In this week’s parsha, the Jewish People are the object of Bilam’s desired curse, but G-d turned all Bilam’s words into blessings that remain with the Jewish People forever. “Ma tovu ohalecha Yaakov, mishkenotecha Yisrael.” (How goodly are your tents, O Jacob, your dwelling places, O Israel.)
Shavua tov. Looking forward to introducing you very soon to the cast of COUNT THE STARS.
STARS was written by Sharon Katz and Avital Macales.
Its staff also stars Toby Klein Greenwald as director, Gayle Berman as musical director, Sara Orenstein as choreographer, and Noa Choritz and Sharon Katz as producers.