Parshas Balak-Summary of the Parsha

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Parshas Balak

Pesukim: 104 [Siman:מנוח ]

Haftorah: Micha 5:6-6:8

Number of Mitzvos:

There are no Mitzvos in Parshas Balak.

 

Rishon

  1. Balak requests from Balaam to curse the Jewish people:
    • The meeting to discuss the threat: Balak the son of Tzippor, the king of Moav at that time, saw all that the Jewish people did to the other nations and Moav became very frightened of the Jewish people. Moav met with the elders of Midian and discussed the threat that “Now they will chew up our entire surroundings like the ox chews the vegetation of the field.
    • Hiring Balaam: He sent emissaries to Balaam the son of Beor to come curse the Jewish people. They told him that a nation has left Egypt and has covered the eye of the land and is now standing opposite me [i.e. Moav]. “Now, please come and curse this nation for me, as they are much more powerful than me, and perhaps I will be successful in driving them out, as I know that whomever you bless is blessed and whom you curse is cursed.” The emissaries arrived at the house of Balaam to deliver the request.

 

  1. The response of Hashem to Balaam, and Balaam to Balak:
  • Hashem instructs Balaam not to go: Balaam replied to the messengers that they should stay the night as he must discuss with Hashem whether he may fulfill their request. Hashem appeared to Balaam and inquired as to who the visitors were. Balaam replied that they are messengers of Balak, the king of Moav, who are asking from him to curse the nation who left Egypt. Upon hearing Balaam’s reply, Hashem told him not to go with them and not to curse the Jewish people, as the Jewish people are blessed.

 

Sheiyni (Chamishi when combined with Chukas)

  • In the morning Balaam told the messengers that they should return to Balak and tell him that he cannot go with them, as Hashem does not allow him to go. The emissaries of Balak returned to him, and informed him that Balaam refuses to go with them.
  • Balak sends a second delegation: Balak sent a second, and more respected and dignified, delegation to try to convince Balaam to come. They told Balaam “So said Balak, do not refuse our request to come with us. I will honor you greatly, and whatever you tell me I shall do. Please just curse this nation.” Balaam once again replied to the delegation of Balak that even if they were to offer him Balak’s entire house filled with gold and silver he could not go against Hashem’s instructions, for small or big. Balaam told also the second delegation to stay the night and see what Hashem would reply.
  • Hashem agrees to allow Balaam to go: Hashem appeared to Balaam that night and told him that he may go, although he will only be able to speak the words that He places in his mouth.

 

Shelishi

  1. Balaam’s journey:
  • Balaam awoke in the morning and saddled his female donkey and traveled with the dignitaries of Moav.
  • The angel blocks Balaam’s path three times and he smites his donkey: Hashem’s wrath boiled over the fact that Balaam was traveling to curse the Jews and He therefore positioned an angel with a drawn sword in front of the path that they were traveling. Upon the donkey seeing the angel of G-d with a drawn sword on the road, he circumvented it and went off the road, to the field. Balaam proceeded to hit the donkey to get her back on the road. Again, the angel stood in the path of the donkey by a path in the vineyard. The donkey, upon seeing the angel of G-d, went off to the side of the road which was gated and consequently crushed the foot of Balaam. Balaam once again hit the donkey. Again, the angel stood in the path of the donkey, but this time there was no room for the donkey to circumvent him. The donkey simply stopped and crouched down. Balaam hit the donkey in fury.
  • The donkey speaks: Hashem suddenly opened the mouth of the donkey and she began to speak, rebuking Balaam for hitting her. “What have I done to you that you hit me three times?” Balaam replied, “You mocked me; if only I had a sword I would kill you.” The donkey replied “Am I not your donkey that you have ridden from your inception until this day. Have I ever done this to you?” And Balaam replied “No.”
  • Hashem reveals the angel: Hashem then opened Blaam’s eyes and he saw the angel with the drawn sword standing on the road. Balaam prostrated himself before him. The angel of G-d chastised Balaam for hitting his donkey three times, telling Balaam that he had stood in the donkey’s way as an impediment, and the donkey saved his life by swerving away. If the donkey would not have swerved away, I would have killed you and let it live. Balaam replied to the angel that he has sinned, and he did not know that the angle was in the way. “Now, if you do not desire me to go then I will turn back.” The angel replied that he may go, although he will only be able to speak the words that he places in his mouth. Balaam continued his travels with the delegation of Balak.

  1. Balaam arrives:
  • Balak heard of Balaam’s imminent arrival and he went to greet him by the border of Arnon. Balak asked Balaam why he had refused to come until now, to which Balaam replied that he is limited and cannot speak anything that Hashem does not place in his mouth.

Revi’i (Shishi when combined with Chukas)

  • The tour and meal: Balak takes Balaam [on a tour of Moav to] Kiryat Chutzos. Balak sacrificed cattle and flock and sent it to Balaam and the dignitaries [to eat].

 

  1. Balaam’s first attempt to curse turns to blessings:
    • The next morning: In the morning, Balak took Balaam to a cliff and looked at the Jewish encampment from there.
    • The sacrifices: Balaam instructed Balak to build seven altars and bring seven cows and seven rams as sacrifices. Balak did as he was instructed and offered the animals on the altar. Balaam told Balak to stand ground by the altar while Balaam goes to meet with Hashem to see if he can curse the Jewish people. Hashem appeared to Balaam and Balaam told Him that he has prepared seven altars and offered bulls and rams. Hashem placed words in the mouth of Balaam and instructed him to relate the message to Balak. Balaam returned to Balak and the Moavite dignitaries and told them as follows:
    • The blessing: “Balak instructed me to curse the Jewish people, but I cannot curse a people who Hashem has not cursed and has not gotten angry with.”
    • “They are a nation that we see from the hilltops; they dwell alone and are not counted amongst the other nations.”
    • “Who can count the dust of Yaakov and Yisrael, and may I die a death like theirs.”
    • Balak’s response: Balak admonished Balaam for blessing the Jewish people instead of cursing them. Balaam replied that he already forewarned Balak that he must say what Hashem tells him.

 

Chamishi

  1. Balaam’s second attempt to curse turns into blessings:
    • Balak took Balaam to a second area from which only part of the Jewish people could be seen, to try to curse the Jewish people from there.
    • The sacrifices: They built seven altars and offered a cow and ram as a sacrifice on the altar. Balaam told Balak to stand guard by the altar while Balaam goes to meet with Hashem to see if he can curse the Jewish people. Hashem places the following words in the mouth of Balaam and instructed him to relate the message to Balak:
    • The blessing: Balaam returned to Balak and the Moavite dignitaries and was asked by Balak as to what Hashem told him. Balaam told Balak to stand while he relays the prophesy:
    • “Hashem is not a man who speaks lies and that regrets what He says. If He says something, He will fulfill it. Hashem blessed the Jewish people, and He will not retract it”
    • “He does not see sin in Yaakov, or iniquity in Israel”
    • “He took them out of Egypt”
    • “There is no sorcery in Yaakov or Yisrael, and He tells them what they need to know”
    • “They are a nation that wake up like a lioness, and do not sleep until they eat their spoils and drink the blood of the slain.”
    • Balak’s response: Balak admonished Balaam for blessing the Jewish people instead of cursing them and tells him that if he can’t curse them then at the very least he should not bless them. Balaam replied that he already forewarned Balak that he must say what Hashem tells him.

 

Shishi (Shevi’i when combined with Chukas)

  1. Balaam’s third set of blessings:
    • Balak took Balaam to a third area from which to try to curse the Jewish people from there. Balak took Balaam to the area called Rosh Peor.
    • The sacrifices: Balaam instructed Balak to build seven altars and bring seven cows and rams as sacrifices. Balak did as he was instructed and offered the sacrifices on the altar. Balaam saw that Hashem desires to bless the Jewish people and therefore did not go as he did the previous times, and he faced the desert. Balaam saw the Jewish people’s encampment in accordance to tribe and he received the spirit of Hashem and began his third set of blessings:
    • The blessings: “Says the man with the closed eye, the one who hears the words of Hashem and sees Him, falling to ground.”
    • “How good are the tents of Yaakov, the dwelling places of Israel. They are like streams and gardens and like cedars by water. Water flows from his buckets and his seed is abundant.”
    • “His king will be exalted over Agag.”
    • “Hashem, who took them out of Egypt will consume their enemies, and their bones He will break and take His portion from the spoils.”
    • “They lie like a lion and like a lioness, who can stand them up.”
    • “Those who bless them are blessed and those who curse them are cursed.”
    • Balak’s response: Balak became enraged with Balaam and clapped his hands and told him “I brought you to curse my enemies and instead you blessed them three times. Now, get out of here and go back to your place. I said I would honor you, but I see Hashem has withheld your honor.” Balaam replied that he already forewarned Balak and his messengers that he must say what Hashem tells him, and that even if he offers him his house filled with gold and silver he cannot transgress the word of Hashem for good or for bad.

 

Shevi’i

  1. Balaam’s fourth set of blessings and prophecy:
    • Prior to his departure, Balaam advised Balak as to what the Jewish people will do to Moav in the end of days.
    • Balaam prophesized and said: “Says the man with the closed eye, the one who hears the words of Hashem and knows the knowledge of High falling to ground”
    • “I will see it but not now. A star will sprout from Yaakov and a staff from Israel who will destroy Moav and the children of Shes.”
    • “Edom and Seir will conquer and their wealth will be inherited by Israel.”
    • He saw Amaleik and stated, “The first of the nations is Amaleik and at the end they will be obliterated.”
    • He saw the Keni and he said “How strong is your position, and your nest rests on a rock”
    • “Ashur will capture you.”
    • “Woe, who will live from the decrees of Hashem.”
    • “The Kitim/Romans and Ashur will be forever destroyed.”
    • Balaam goes home: Balaam got up and returned home and also Balak went on his way.

  1. The sin with the daughters of Moav:
    • The sin: The Jewish people settled in Shitim and were promiscuous with the daughters of Moav. They participated in sacrifices to idolatry and they ate and prostrated to the idols. They attached to the idolatry of Peor and Hashem became very angry with Israel.
    • Capital punishment: Hashem told Moshe to gather the leaders and have the violators hung in front of the sun and then His wrath will be extinguished from the Jewish people. Moshe instructed the leaders to kill those who attached to Peor,
    • Zimri and Kozbi: There was a certain man who approached Moshe and the entire congregation with a Midyanite woman while Bnei Yisrael were crying in their tent. Pinchas the son of Elazar, the son of Aaron Hakohen took a spear in his hand and speared the man and the woman in their private areas and the plague ended.
    • Total number of dead in plague: There were 24,000 people who died in that plague.

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