Torah.org Home Subscribe Services Support Us
 
Print Version

Email this article to a friend

Parshas Balak

Bilaam's Curses Transformed into Blessings

The Torah has great relevance to all current events. It is not a book of history but it is rather a book about humankind – its greatness and evil, wisdom and creativity and its pettiness and foolishness. This week’s parsha allows itself to be read in the context of our current world and perhaps, most acutely, in the relationship of the Jewish people and the State of Israel to their adversaries and to the world generally.

The Jewish people under the leadership of Moshe have fought a number of wars against enemies - Amalek, The Emorites, the Canaanites, the king of Bashan, etc. - and emerged victorious in all of these physical encounters. The king of Moab, Balak, afraid to confront Israel directly again in open battle, devises a new strategy to destroy the Jewish nation. He hires a media expert, Bilaam, to conduct a public relations campaign against the right of the Jewish people to exist. He reasons that though they may not be defeated in war, they can be cursed in the eyes of the world.

To put Bilaam into our terms and times, he is the UN, rights commissions, the European Union, blockade breakers, NGO’s, human rights activists and the literary and academic world. Balak is happy to fund Bilaam’s efforts – the New Balak Fund. Bilaam’s prose and poetry are unmatched for beauty in the Torah. He is the hero of the intellectual set, the advisor to kings and rulers, a recognized expert, while, in reality, he is nothing more than an empty suit.

Balak is convinced that if he cannot conquer and destroy the Jewish people by direct aggression he will now be able to do so through guile, falsehoods, demonization and deligitimatization. Bilaam is Balak’s default weapon against Moshe and Israel.

The Lord intervenes with Balak’s scheme. Bilaam turns out to be completely unreliable as far as Balak is concerned. Bilaam gives advice to Balak regarding how the women of Midian and Moab can seduce the Jews into sinning and thereby bring Heaven’s wrath against them. The Jewish nation is damaged by Bilaam but his main objective of destroying Israel is blocked by Divine fiat.

The insults become praise and the malevolence of his thought is somehow transformed into a badge of honor by Moshe and Israel and so recorded in the Torah. Balak’s promising plot has failed in its objective and eventually he, his nation and Bilaam bring only death and destruction upon themselves.

The destruction of Judaism and the Jewish people has been an age old object of many Balaks and Bilaams. They still exist today and are still hard at work at their nefarious schemes. Yet, somehow deep in our souls we know that the curses will be transformed into blessings and, eventually, enmity will subside and evaporate. May we be privileged to transform the current words of the Bilaams of today to words of blessing just as occurred to the original Bilaam of long ago.

Shabat shalom,
Rabbi Berel Wein


Crash course in Jewish history

Rabbi Berel Wein- Jewish historian, author and international lecturer offers a complete selection of CDs, audio tapes, video tapes, DVDs, and books on Jewish history at www.rabbiwein.com


 

ARTICLES ON TERUMAH:

View Complete List

Taking in the Most Generous Way
Rabbi Label Lam - 5772

A Tabernacle in Your Heart
Shlomo Katz - 5774

Temples Without Walls
Rabbi Naftali Reich - 5768

ArtScroll

But Do You Want To
Rabbi Yechezkel Freundlich - 5773

A Quantum Leap
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5765

Upside Down
Rabbi Raymond Beyda - 5767

Looking for a Chavrusah?

In Memory of Rabbi Dr. Azriel Rosenfeld
Rabbi Yaakov Menken - 5764

Contradictory Descriptions As To How The Menorah Was Made
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5767

Materials Listed In Descending Order Until They Mention The Expensive Stones
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5772

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

Keruv or Karov?
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5757

The World in Miniature
Shlomo Katz - 5775

Build a "Cottage" for Hashem
Shlomo Katz - 5758

> The Mishkan Gifts Are Listed In Descending Order
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5765

Whole Life Insurance
Rabbi Yisroel Ciner - 5757

Sanctuary Sweet Sanctuary
Rabbi Dovid Green - 5759

The Power of Unity
Rabbi Yosef Kalatsky - 5763



Project Genesis

Torah.org Home


Torah Portion

Jewish Law

Ethics

Texts

Learn the Basics

Seasons

Features

TORAHAUDIO

Ask The Rabbi

Knowledge Base




Help

About Us

Contact Us



Free Book on Geulah!




Torah.org Home
Torah.org HomeCapalon.com Copyright Information