Balak: Energy

Life is about choices.

Rabbi S. Weiss,

Judaism לבן ריק
לבן ריק
Arutz 7

How strange to name a holy parsha after a rasha like Balak, king of Moav. Why would we want to bestow such a
Let's try to make some sense of this quandary.
huge honor on a person who is described by the Midrash as "the greatest Jew-hater who ever lived"?

It's almost as puzzling as naming a sedra after Korach, who, just two Shabbatot ago, led a mini-rebellion against Moshe. In a way, it almost seems fitting that the parshiyot of Korach and Balak are separated by the sedra of Chukat, which deals with the inexplicable in Jewish life.

So let's try to make some sense of this quandary and consult one of the greatest minds in history - Einstein.

Among the many "teachings" of Einsten was the principle that "energy is neither created nor destroyed" in the Universe. That is, there is a finite amount of energy that exists in our world; if it leaves one place, it will, by necessity, re-appear somewhere else.

Both Balak and Korach (and Bilam, too, for that matter) were filled with an abundance of energy. They could have used that energy in any number of ways - positive or negative. Their potential was limitless and they had powerful talents at their disposal. All three were gifted speakers, charismatic, bright and ambitious. Used wisely, their abilities could have earned them lasting fame - rather than infamy - and abundant personal reward, rather than the ignominious fate which all three suffered.

Alas, they misused their gifts and ended up as villains, rather than heroes. Their energy was inner-directed and selfish, rather than outer-directed and giving. Yet, the energy they possessed did not vanish forever; it simply re-surfaced in another place and time and form. In the case of Korach, it would emerge in his children, who wrote
They misused their gifts and ended up as villains.
beautiful songs and Psalms, complementing - perhaps even completing - the majestic music of David HaMelech, the sweet singer of Israel.

In Balak's case, his nobility would be expressed by Ruth haMoavia, whose passion for Am Yisrael and Eretz Yisrael would be the "missing link" in the Davidic chain and the lineage of Moshiach. And as for Bilam, his words would grace our daily prayers and provide potent prophecy for the end of days, a vehicle for HaShem's will to be known.

Sadly, neither Korach, Balak nor Bilam would enjoy the fruits of their labor. But their names are immortalized to remind us that life is about choices, and making the right decision as to how to utilize that G-d-given energy within each of us. The choice we make will ultimately determine whether we emerge as king or criminal, Levi or loser, seer or sorcerer. May G-d help us to choose wisely.