Thought of the Week: Balak - 5771

In this week’s Parasha we find a pair of anti-Semites using an unconventional weapon to fight the Jewish people, namely; the power of a curse.  Balak, the king of Moav, sent messengers to Bilaam the Sorcerer and offered him a substantial sum to curse the People of Israel.  The word in Hebrew to describe Balak’s request for a curse is “ARAH.”

A few verses later Hashem appears to Bilaam.  Bilaam describes to the Almighty that messengers were sent by Balak to curse the children of Israel.  Yet the word used by Bilaam to depict the curse is “KABAH.”  Bilaam switched the type of curse from the one requested by Balak, which made commentators wonder why.

Some Commentators note that “KABAH” comes from the word “NEKEV”, a hole.  Bilaam understood that the only way for the curse to succeed against the Jewish people is by finding their spiritual weakness and focusing on it.  In other words, you can only beat the Jewish people if you find a spiritual crack.

The Talmud comments in the name of Rabbi Eleazar: “The Holy One, blessed be He, said to Israel: See now, how many righteous acts I performed for you in not being angry in the days of the wicked Bilaam.  For had I been angry, not one remnant would have been left of Israel.  And this, too, is the meaning of what Bilaam said to Balak: How shall I curse, whom God hath not cursed?  And how shall I execrate, whom the Lord hath not execrated?   This teaches us that He was not angry all these days.”

What Rabbi Eleazar is telling us is that the crack that Bilaam wanted to use against the Jewish people was non-existent during that period, due to the kindness of Hashem.  Hashem sealed all holes thus the curse of a “KABAH” could not take hold.

Shabbat Shalom