From the Rabbi’s Study
By Rabbi Ari Enkin

The week’s Torah portion is “Balak” named after the evil Moabite King who (along with tyrants in every generation) wanted to destroy the Jewish people. Balak, realizing that a military campaign against the Jews was sure to fail as it did for Pharaoh, the Amorites, and the Amalekites, tried an alternative strategy: curses.

Balak himself was not skilled in the art of the occult and therefore was forced to outsource. He hired Bilam, a noted sorcerer, to do the deed. However, not only was Bilam a sorcerer, he was actually a prophet of God in his own right! As such, when Balak’s messengers came with the proposal to Bilam, Bilam conceded that he first needed to get clearance from God. Of course, God said no way and so Bilam sent the messengers on their way.

Balak wouldn’t give up, though. He once again sent a delegation, this time an even-higher level delegation to Bilam to entice him with all kinds of bribery. Once again, Bilam said he would have to consult with God. This time, however, God allowed Bilam to go on the mission, but warned him to only pronounce upon the Jewish people the words that He would put into his mouth. Bilam, thinking that he could intimidate and manipulate God Himself, went on the mission to curse the Jewish people.

The day came. Bilam was escorted to a lookout point where he could see the Jewish nation and curse them. But something bizarre occurred. Bilam opened his mouth to curse the Jewish people and…….blessings came out! You can imagine the embarrassment that Bilam experienced and the outrage that Balak must have demonstrated.

Balak then took Bilam to a different lookout point upon the Jewish people hoping that this time Bilam would get it right and curse them. Again, Bilam opened his mouth to curse them and blessings came out! So beautiful were Bilam’s blessings that they were adapted and made part of the daily liturgy recited by Jews worldwide for thousands of years! “How pleasant are your tents Oh Israel and your dwelling places”.

The Divine message to the enemies of Israel is crystal clear. God says that the Jewish people are blessed. Don’t mess with them! If you want to curse them, your end will be like Balak and Bilam who were sent to Hell for eternity. But God doesn’t just want people not to curse the Jewish people or avoid them – God wants the world to join them! To help them, support them, and bless them. As it says in Genesis 12:3: “I will bless those who bless you and curse those who curse you”.

United with Israel is a Jewish organization that actively welcomes everyone, regardless of their location, religion, or political affiliation. The enemies of Israel will be left behind. All others are welcome to join us and be part of God’s blessing and bounty.

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