Parashat Balak

King Balak, upon learning that Am Israel was defeating his enemies, feared that he would be next on the list, and allied himself with his arch enemy Midian, hiring the evil sorcerer Bilam to curse Am Israel. However, even though God warns Bilam not to go and curse Am Israel, he does not resist Balak’s million-dollar offer if he succeeds with his curse, so on the second night God grants him permission to go with Balak, (he did not authorize him to curse). But why did Bilam not listen to God the first time? Moreover, why did God apparently change His mind? One answer answers the other: The Sages teach that envy, (undue) desire and the pursuit of honor take a person out of this world, things that Bilam was characterized by. His desire was so strong that he was willing to do everything possible to achieve it, and the Sages say that “Which way a person wants to go he is directed from heaven, for better and for worse.” Bilam used his power of choice negatively, which led to his physical and spiritual undoing. From this story, we can only learn the power of our thoughts, of our will, of our decisions. May we use the greatest gift we have to walk the path of good.

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