We are familiar with the fact that Yaakov Avinu had two names: “Yaakov” and “Yisrael”. These names are used in different instances to portray different aspects of Klal Yisrael /Yaakov Avinu. The seforim hakadoshim give an explanation as to one of the differences between “Yaakov” and “Yisrael”: There are times when a person is about to perform a mitzvah and he does not feel connected to it at all. He therefore “drags his feet”, as he has no interest in performing what is incumbent upon him. However, though the mitzvah began without enthusiasm, as he persists in pursuing that mitzvah he eventually is imbued with a love and joy. There are other times when a person will start the mitzvah with tremendous enthusiasm, which will persist until he has finished the mitzvah.

When Bilaam gave his brocho to klal Yisrael, he stated (Bamidbar 24:5):

מַה-טֹּבוּ אֹהָלֶיךָ, יַעֲקֹב; מִשְׁכְּנֹתֶיךָ, יִשְׂרָאֵל.

How goodly are your tents, O’ Yaakov, your dwelling places, O’ Israel!

The difference between a tent (ohel) and a dwelling is that a tent is a transient abode, whereas a dwelling (mishkan) refers to something with more permanence.

The word “Yaakov” represents “eikev yud” (יעקב=עקב י): at the end of the action (as in the heel/eikev) the person will connect to Hashem (yud). Whereas the word “Yisrael” alludes to “yashar Kel”: Immediately feeling connected to Hashem. Bilam noticed that though sometimes the Jews seemed to have to drag their feet to perform mitzvahs, that is only a fleeting stage (the tent). But klal Yisrael’s ‘default position’ is to perform mitzvahs with enthusiasm from the beginning (mishkan).

All of us find ourselves at times in a spiritual down. At these times, a person might wonder to himself: “Will I ever get out of this mode and be excited again with my opportunity to perform mitzvahs?” Even the wicked Bilam can do nothing but wonder at the resiliency of klal Yisrael, that our downtime is only temporary and our normal mode is Yashar Kel – to be connected fully to Hashem.