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Balak in a Nutshell

Balak in a Nutshell

Numbers 22:2–25:9

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Balak, the king of Moab, summons the prophet Balaam to curse the people of Israel. On the way, Balaam is berated by his donkey, who sees, before Balaam does, the angel that G‑d sends to block their way. Three times, from three different vantage points, Balaam attempts to pronounce his curses; each time, blessings issue forth instead. Balaam also prophesies on the end of the days and the coming of Moshiach.

The people fall prey to the charms of the daughters of Moab, and are enticed to worship the idol Peor. When a high-ranking Israelite official publicly takes a Midianite princess into a tent, Pinchas kills them both, stopping the plague raging among the people.

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Eliezer Zalmanov for Chabad.org July 27, 2016

The words of Bilaam were actually G-dly, as he himself had not control over what he was saying. Reply

Noss July 24, 2016

Why do we pray with the words of a rashah, an evil man? Reply

Anonymous July 22, 2016

Some of us are capable of being like Baalam.
We all have our gifts; some are spiritual, some material. Question is, what's in your heart? Reply

Izzy arcata June 30, 2015

I met a youthful nonogenerian notzri he looked septuagenarian with big Coptic cross around neck my magen David tucked below collar. My loquacious shidduch had hailed him how she loves people and meeting new ones and life stories. A new saba in knickerbockers for her ever growing collection. I took him for a priest. Turns out he is a Marine fighter pilot who taught us to fly the A4. He perfected a bombing approach angle speed altitude that hit over and over within 5 feet. This man was a key to our victories. Reply

Sheldon H. Steinlauf Illinois July 3, 2014

Sarge is correct. Moreover, projecting our values onto a group that wants to kill all Jews is the true essence of negligence. The IDF needs to do some serious cleanup up of Hamas and its supporters. Bombing a few buildings from a photo op is a joke. Hopefully my input will get past the delicate senses of the moderator. Reply

THE SARGE Brooklyn U.S.A. Brooklyn U.S.A. July 2, 2014

We need more Jewish leaders like Pinchis that take immediate decisive action instead of having meetings, running at the mouth, and all the other diplomatic PC CAism. Reply

spencer shear nyc, ny July 9, 2012

Ba'alam (Bilam) the 'sorcerer' hired by Balak to curse us was NOT necessarily Baal Peor who led the people into idol worship in an unconnected episode! Ba'al is just a generic term meaning 'lord'...of... Ba'al Peor simply means 'ruler of the mount of Peor'. it is not a 'name', sort of like 'gospadin' in russian. Our first ' 'Ba'al' the so-called 'sorcerer' seems to be in good conversation with '' . Certainly, he is blessed with the holy interchange and is allowed to act as a vehicle for the holy words Ma Tovu, o lecha jakov, mishca notecha Israel...etc. He was not an Israelite, but yes, '' is the Father and King to all who honor and bow to him.... Reply

marconium canada, montreal July 8, 2012

Bilaam shows that without G*d's direct revelation we cannot know His will for us. Yet even with the revelation of God we must accept His will, His power and foremost, His Holiness and Righteousness. Bilaam represents all who have this knowledge of the Divine yet still strive to do things our way whereby our worship of the Lord becomes merely self serving and so we are cursed by creating a god in our own image. Bilaam like Cain are more interested in their own good works rather than Faith and trust in G*d which in the end becomes self serving works of self. Reply

Menachem Posner for Chabad.org Montreal, Quebec July 11, 2011

The plague had spiritual roots. G-d had unleashed it against the people as a direct result of the idolatry and adultery that they were performing with the Midianite women. Pinchas was the grandson of Aaron. He saw what was happening and knew that something needed to be done. When Zimri, a prince of Israel, publically flaunted his Midianite consort, Pinchas killed them both. The plague then stopped. Reply

Anonymous July 8, 2011

I do not understand exactly how the plague was stopped. Who was Pinchas Reply

Anonymous Brooklyn, NY, USA July 5, 2011

It is at times like this that, figuratively speaking, G-D scratches his head and looks down at our people and says "Oy! What my people did to the Torah." Reply

Ya'acov Cape Town, RSA via chabad.co.za June 26, 2010

Parsha Balak is more than just the experiences of Balak. It is about the daughters of Moab also.

In the modern day there are many relationships consisting out of two people of whom ONLY one is of the Tribe of the G-d of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

Was Moshe not in such a relationship also?

No sin in such a modern relationship AS LONG AS this relationship does not entice you to leave or alter your belief and trust in G-d.

IF this relationship drifts you away from the ONLY G-d, the ONE G-d, who knows when there is a Pinchas on your way? Reply

Channah Ely Ft Lauderdale, USA June 25, 2010

I like your comment Mark from Montreal.
I believe we need to listen and obey G-d's voice and be careful not to think more highly of ourselves in the process. That is what I think Balaam was doing, without it being said. He was a prophet who was saught after and he may have gotten a little to high minded and that is why the Angel of the LORD went to stop him and bring him down to earth again, showing him his error. Reply

Anonymous Morton Grove, IL June 24, 2010

You should have mentioned that the prayer we make upon entering the sanctuary comes from Balak--a heathen socerer. "Ma tovu ....." The question is was this a temporary contrition by Balak or as a prophet was he forced to do G-d's will? If the latter, what happened to the concept of choice in Judaism? If the former, why was the "contrition" only temporary? Reply

mark montreal, Quebec July 3, 2007

Yaakov wrote: "I would like to point out that G-d would not allow Balaam to curse Israel, but Balaam did introduce the sin to the Jews which allowed them to curse themselves."

Can you explain this? Is this comparable to:

shoftim 8.27: And Gideon made it into an Ephod, and he set it up in his city, in Ophrah; and all Israel went astray after it there; and it became a snare to Gideon and to his house.

Balaam had little contact with the Jewish nation. In fact Balaam was killed by Moses' on command from the Holy Onefor vengenacne against the Midians. Reply

Yaakov Cabot , AR June 30, 2007

I would like to point out that G-d would not allow Balaam to curse Israel, but Balaam did introduce the sin to the Jews which allowed them to curse themselves. Reply

mark montreal, quebec June 26, 2007

Isn't the issue that G-D opens the eyes of Balaam. So it ithe direct intevention of G-d that opens up our Spiritual hearts to receive the Holy Message.

Without this Spiritual awaking we cannot receive the message of the angel o G-d. Reply