A SUMMARY OF BALAK, Num. 22:2-25:9
Afraid of Jewish Divine influence in the corrupt Middle East, the Moabites appoint Midianite mystic Balak as their temporary king. He seeks the aid of wizard Rev. Bilaam, the archetype of all "holy men" who condemn and curse Israel (cf. M. Luther). His name literally is "without a people"- he's a precursor of those later religious leaders who proclaim themselves the heirs of Israel's Torah, while rejecting the people of Israel (cf. Khumani). Such pietists today ignore Jordan's recent destruction of Jewish cemetaries and synagogues and their rendering the Wall a trash heap; yet they ardently protest the arrival of Jewish neighbors, in an abandoned hostel, near the Moslem shops surrounding their churches. God tells Rev. B. to decline the high salaried position, but he keeps trying to get God to change His mind about the Jews and Balak's mission. God finally lets him exercise his free will and go with Balak's diplomats, but tries to kill him. Bilaam's talking she-ass saves his life and he reaches Moav.
Ch. 23:Bilaam examines the Jewish people twice, from every standpoint, to discover their faults and curse them. But he only finds good traits and is forced by God to utter blessings.
Ch. 24: Bilaam gives up right away on Balak's 3rd attempt to have him curse Israel; instead he sings their praises, inspired by God. His words enter the Torah for eternity: "How good are your tents Yaakov, your dwelling places, Israel". Indeed, the strength of Yaakov, he who dwells in tents (Gen. 25:27), has always been his two abodes-- family and study hall. Capable, energetic Esav remains to this day a wandering man of prey-- be it in business, hunting, or conquest; Israel's prime focus is on family- each faithful Jewish home is another link in the chain of world redemption, stretching from Avraham to the Messiah. Together they form the collective House of Israel, one big family. Its inner strength and impact upon mankind come from Torah and prayer, the union of home, yeshiva and synagogue.
Ch. 25: The portion ends with a temporary setback, the opposite of this great ideal- discos come to Israel. Cheap pagan women first entice the Jews to abandon their tent of family; soon after, they also abandon the tent of Torah for Moabite idolatry. Moshe and the faithful were griefstricken. God ordered the killing of the ringleaders. 24,000 thousand Jews, lost in passion, died in a plague. Later, 24,000 proud pupils of Rabbi Akiva, lacking respect for each other, were also stricken by Divine plague. The building of a Jewish model nation requires heroic self-conquest, of both passion and pride. This self-conquest then becomes the basis for the conquest of all evil in the world. The plague only stopped when Pinchas, Aharon's grandson, speared and killed the charismatic jetset leaders, a Jewish prince and a Midianite princess, who publicly fornicated before Moshe.
THE HAFTARA, Micha 5:6-6:8, speaks of the messianic age; the Jews, scattered among the nations, to whom they have given so much, will be brought back to a redeemed and purified, enlightened and enlightening, State of Israel. God does not need our gifts, only our selves: "He has told you, man, what is good and what the Lord requires of you: only to do justly, to love lovingkindness, and to walk modestly with your God".
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