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Parashat Balak - 5775

My friends,

This Shabbat we read the portion of Balak.

Balak is the King of Moab. He and his people are afraid of the Children of Israel who are advancing towards the Promised Land. Although the Children of Israel had no intention of conquering Moab, which is east of the Jordan River, Balak nevertheless wants to defeat them and not allow them to cross Moab on the way to the Promised Land.

Rather than allow them to cross peacefully thru his land, he chooses to go to war with them. But knowing that he may not be able to defeat them militarily, he chooses to use curses upon the Children of Israel, thus weakening them to the point where he can defeat them.

There was a prophet in Midian at that time named Balaam, who was known as a holy man, who possessed the power of blessing or cursing a person or people. It was told that whatever Balaam pronounced would surely happen. Balak sent for Balaam, asking him to come and see the camp of the Israelites and place a curse upon them. Balaam would be rewarded with wealth and honor.

You know the story. Rather than curses, G-d places blessings in the mouth of Balaam. Every time he wants to pronounce a curse a blessing comes out of his mouth, to the disappointment of Balak.

It would seem that things have not changed in the history of our people. When our enemies could not defeat us militarily, they turned to the media for propaganda and public opinion. Just like Balak tried to use words against the Israelites, Israel's enemies today are also using words accusing Israel of untold crimes before the various UN bodies and pushing for BDS - Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions - against Israel in many countries.

Balak and Balaam failed - we pray that such would be the fate of all those who wish to curse Israel and the Jewish people.

This Shabbat coincides with the Fast of the Seventeenth Day of Tammuz which is observed on Sunday in deference to Shabbat. This Shabbat also falls on the Fourth of July. We, the Jews of America, have much to celebrate and for which to be grateful to G-d - grateful for this Day of America's Independence and for America. This country has been good to the Jews, more than any other country in the history of our people.

Pray for the wellbeing and safety of this wonderful country, the United States of America.

Shabbat Shalom,