The Torah reveals to us the true identity of our “guardian angel” – it is in fact God Himself!
This week’s Torah portion is Balak (Numbers 22:2-25:9) and it discusses the episode of two evil characters: Balak, King of Moab, and Bilaam, the local sorcerer-for-hire. Bilaam was indeed a successful sorcerer as well as a prophet who was able to receive communications from God.
Here’s a summary of the story. Balak, the king of Moab, hired the gentile prophet Bilaam to curse the Jewish people and thereby exterminate them. Balak knew that he could not defeat the Jewish people militarily so he thought that he’d try his luck magically. One of the advantages of this approach was that Bilaam knew exactly when God got angry each day. (Yes, according to Kabbalah there is a precise split second each day when God is angry. Very angry.) As such, Balak decided to use Bilaam to curse the Jews at that precise second. He reasoned that the curse of a prophet, combined with an angry God, would get rid of the Jews once and for all. In fact, Balak was essentially right! These two factors were indeed a recipe for disaster.
However, God got around His own “system” by ensuring that Bilaam would not curse the people. God “snapped His fingers,” so to speak, and instead of curses, blessings came out of Bilaam’s mouth! The Jews were blessed that day, and both Balak and Bilaam returned home as broken failures.
What makes this episode extremely unique, is not the fact that the Jews were almost killed. Indeed, that certainly would not be unique. People have been trying to kill the Jews from time immemorial. If it’s not Pharaoh, it’s Amalek. If it’s not Amalek, it’s Balak. If it’s not Balak, it’s Torquemada. If it’s not Torquemada, then it’s Hitler, and so on.
So what makes this story unique?
It’s unique because the Jewish people had no idea that the event even took place. They had no idea that Balak and Bilaam were standing above them on a nearby hilltop attempting to exterminate them via a curse. They didn’t find out about what had taken place until Moses wrote the story down in the Torah about a year later.
This is why the episode of Balak and Bilaam is so important. It represents and symbolizes that God is watching over us even when we don’t realize it. It’s not just the visible enemies such as Hamas and Hezbollah from which God protects us; He even protects us from the plotters we don’t even know about. As the prophets tell us, the story of Balak is for us to know the extent of “the kindnesses of God.”
We must always remember that God loves us and protects us, even without us realizing it. This is true at every level, whether personal or national, whether material or spiritual. It is not possible to count the number of times the IDF has thwarted attempted terrorist attacks. And the list of examples goes on and on.
We should use this opportunity to remember and appreciate our true “guardian angel” – God Himself!
By: Rabbi Ari Enkin, Rabbinic Director, United with Israel
For more insights by Rabbi Enkin on this week’s Torah portion, click on the links below.
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