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 NOACH:

View Complete List

Law and Order
Rabbi Dovid Green - 5760

Taking the Initiative
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5772

If it Hurts, Scream!
Rabbi Yisroel Ciner - 5758

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

Hashem's Promise
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5770

The World is a Symphony
Rabbi Dovid Green - 5757

Drowning in a Lack of Heaven
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5775

> Did The Animals Come Or Did Noach Have To Bring Them?
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5773

G-d's Message for All Humanity
Rabbi Yaakov Menken - 5764

Free Gifts for People Who Find Favor
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5767

ArtScroll

Improving Our Own World
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5760

Noach - A 'Standard' Tzaddik
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann - 5764

Out of the Darkness
Shlomo Katz - 5773

Looking for a Chavrusah?

People In Stone Houses Shouldn
Rabbi Yochanan Zweig - 5773

The Sign of the Olive
Rabbi Naftali Reich - 5767

When the Illegitimate Becomes Legitimate
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5758

The Shame Of Cham
Rabbi Aron Tendler - 5762



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