Balak- Bil’am’s Blessing

This parasha tells the story of Bil’am’s attempts to curse Israel at Balak king of Moav’s request. Bil’am came to bless the people when the    spirit of G-d came upon him.


Bil’am introduced his blessing “Thus speaks the man whose eye has been opened, he speaks hearing G-d’s words, who beholds what G-d allows him to behold, who has fallen down yet his eye unveiled”. R’ SR Hirsch commented that the spirit of G-d was new for him. Bil’am had never experienced it before and the thought totally pre-occupied him.


Bil’am began his blessing “How good are your tents, Yaakov, your dwelling places O Israel”. R’ Hirsch wrote that he didn’t say “how beautiful” but “how good”. How good meant how much in accord with the ideal of morality and with the true welfare of a people. They are like brooks that bring blessing and like gardens which are themselves blessed. R’ Hirsch commented that like a brook, each household and each family branch passes down to the next generation the blessings of material prosperity and spiritual and moral welfare. Bil’am compared the morality of the people of Israel to the people of Pe’or, and R’ SR Hirsch commented that Israel’s power of victory depends on this moral aspect of private family and sexual life. Every Jewish spirit is a product of sensuality subordinated to G-d’s Torah.


Bil’am concluded his blessing” those who bless you are the blessed, and those who curse you are cursed”. R’ SR Hirsch commented that those who respect the principles for which you stand and help promote them will be among the blessed. Those who are hostile to the principles you represent and hope for your downfall so that the values for which you stand may be destroyed along with you- they should be among the cursed.

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