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Home » Balak

Balak: Food For Thought for Your Dinner Table

Submitted by on July 10, 2008 – 2:06 amNo Comment | 2,551 views

Sunday: Instant Wrath

Fearful of the Jewish nation, the Moabite king Balak, sent word to Billam, “Behold a people has come from Egypt . . . and [now] sits opposite me.” Our sages taught that G-d is angry for a millisecond every day and Billam was able to identify that moment and utilize it against his enemies. However, because the moment does not last long enough to utter even one curse word Billam would curse his enemies in advance and simply point to them when the moment came. Balak told Billam that the Jews were “opposite him” to inform him that they were in perfect position for a successful curse. Tiferes Yonason

Monday: What Do You Want?

Balak feared the Jews and sought spiritual assistance from Billam. He could either have asked for a blessing that the Moabites be protected against the Jewish threat or he could have asked that the Jews be cursed and grow weak. That he chose the latter rather than the former illustrates the extent of his hatred for the Jews. Moab would have been protected with a blessing and would not be better served with a curse. The only reason to ask for a curse was pure hatred. Chafetz Chayim

Tuesday: Divine Envoy

G-d denied Billam permission to accompany the first envoy sent by Balak. Balak sent a more prestigious, higher ranking, envoy and G-d permitted Billam to go with that envoy. Why did G-d not permit him to travel to Moab the first time?

Balak also asked why Billam did not come with the first envoy and Billam replied, “Now I have come to you, am I empowered to say anything? Whatever word G-d puts into my mouth I shall speak.” Billam meant to say that he was reluctant to come knowing that he could not succeed, but between the lines we read the following; Since Billam was not coming for himself, but to speak the words of G-d, it was only fitting that he, a Divine messenger, should travel with envoys of the highest order. Chassam Sofer

Wednesday: The Beginning

“Balak took Billam . . . to the heights of Baal and from there he saw the edges of the people.” The edge can also be understood as the beginning of history. Gazing back to the root of the Jewish people Billam noted that Avraham’s father was an idol worshipper. He invoked this fact hoping that a nation born in idolatry is deserving of punishment. Here Billam erred for the Jewish history begins with Avraham, not his father. Terach was the father of Avraham, the individual, not of Avraham, the patriarch. Kli Yakar

Thursday: Saying What We Mean

Rather than curse the Jews, Billam blessed them. Enraged, Balak exclaimed, “Curse you shall not curse them and bless you shall also not bless them.” Billam had warned Balak that he would only speak the words G-d put in his mouth, why was Balak surprised?

Balak expected Billam to speak with cunning and lace his blessings with concealed curses. He was enraged when Billam blessed his enemies with a full heart. He therefore said, “Bless you shall not bless,” not blessings that are curses and certainly not blessings that are in fact blessings. Orach Chayim

Friday: Prayer and Study

“How good are your tents, O’ Israel, your dwelling places O’ Jacob.” Our sages taught that ‘tents’ refer to houses of prayer and ‘dwelling places’ refer to houses of study. The intention here is that the houses of prayer are good, meaning the prayers are accepted on high, when worshippers proceed from prayer directly to Torah study. Chassam Sofer

Shabbat: Apathy

“Amalek is the first nation, but his end will be eternal destruction.” Every nation represents and embodies a particular trait; Amalek’s trait is, according to Kabbalah, apathy. When the Jews left Egypt, the nations trembled at their sight, but Amalek scorned and attacked them and though he lost the battle the aura of Jewish invincibility dissipated.

Apathy is a dangerous trait that destroys the greatest of intentions. We might resolve to fulfill a mitzvah or study Torah, but when we are confronted by mockery and scorn our enthusiasm dissipates. “Amalek,” apathy, is “first among nations;” it can destroy resolutions undertaken with the best of intentions. We must declare eternal battle against this trait and ensure its “eternal destruction.” Sefer Mamarim 5680