Parashas Balak, Part 2

In his first blessing to the Jewish People, Bilaam begins with the following words (Bamidbar 23:8): “From Aram, Balak the king of Moab led me, from the mountains of the east – ‘Come curse Yaakov for me, come bring anger upon Yisrael.’” The Maggid explains this preface with a parable. A preacher from a seedy town visited a city full of distinguished scholars. He went up to the lectern to give a sermon, and proceeded to vilify the people for committing abominations. Afterward, the city’s leading scholars approached him and chastised him for his speech. The preacher responded: “Doesn’t our holy Torah teach us to rebuke our fellow men?” The scholars replied: “True. But you have to know who you are dealing with. You come from a town of very lowly people, who commit all kinds of abominations. So you have a stock fire-and-brimstone speech for this crowd. But now, here in a city of scholars, you gave the same speech. It was ridiculous.” Similarly, Bilaam came from Aram, a place of wantonness. Balak called him in from Aram to pronounce a curse upon the Jewish People of the type that would be fit for the Arameans. So Bilaam’s prophetic message begins with a hint that Balak’s request was ridiculous.
David Zucker, Site Administrator

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