Note: The Shabbos Torah Reading is divided into 7 sections. Each section
is called an Aliya [literally: Go up] since for each Aliya, one person
"goes up" to make a bracha [blessing] on the Torah Reading.
Parshas Balak begins with King Balak's offer to Bilam the Prophet
to curse the Jewish people and G-d's refusal to allow him to accept.
Balak sent a second negotiating team and Bilam was given permission
to go. However, G-d stipulated that Bilam could only speak the word of G-d.
Along the way the incident with the talking donkey occurred,
emphasizing G-d's instructions to that Bilam only deliver the word of G-d.
Bilam attempted his first curse and was unable to do so. Instead,
the words he spoke were a blessing for the Jewish people.
Bilam made his second attempt at cursing the Jews and was again
unable to do so. Instead, he issued his second blessing.
6th & 7th Aliya:
Billam attempted his final curse but again blessed the
As he left in disgrace, Bilam told the assembled coalition of kings of their
eventual destruction by the Jews. As a parting shot against the Jews, he
advised them to seduce the Jewish men with Midianite women and bring G-d's
wrath down upon the nation. The Parsha concludes with the incident of
Baal-Peor and Pinchas's heroism.