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The Best Type of Protection

Rabbi Pesach Scheiner
Rabbi Pesach Scheiner

This week’s Torah portion is perhaps the portion of the Torah that shows more than any other the divine love to the Jewish people.  In fact, the Talmud says that the sages wanted to add parts of this week’s portion to the Shema prayer but did not do so in order not to make the Shema too long.

The portion begins by telling us that the country of Moab became frightened that they would be conquered by the Jews, since they saw that the Jews had conquered the countries around them.  Balak the king of Moab sent messengers to Bilam, who was a non-Jewish prophet, asking him to come to Moab and curse the Jewish people. Our sages teach that Bilam was known to have a special talent in that his curses would be fulfilled. The way he accomplished this was being that he was a prophet, he was able to know when G-d became angry and at that very moment, he would curse his victim. Since G-d was angry and when the victim was deserving of punishment, the curse was fulfilled.

The Torah continues to tell us how Bilam went to Moab and tried every possible way to get G-d to agree to curse the Jews.  He brought sacrifices to appease G-d and he mentioned the sins that the Jewish people had done.  But, instead of G-d agreeing to Bilam, he continuously instructed him to go to Balak and bless the Jews.  The blessings that G-d told Bilam to relate to Balak are very poetic, full of praise of the Jewish people and foretells the future blessings of the Jewish people including the final kingdom of the Jewish people with Moshiach.

The commentaries tell us that from the story of Bilam, we can learn a lesson of divine protection.  At times in our lives we have adversaries that try to harm us and G-d foils their attempts, but, sometimes, not only does G-d foil their attempts, but, orchestrates that the very actions they took to harm us work to our advantage and benefit us in some significant way.

As the verse says in Deuteronomy “But G-d refused to listen to Bilam and he reversed the curse to a blessing for you, because G-d loved you.”

About Rabbi Pesach Scheiner

Rabbi Pesach Scheiner is the Rabbi of Boulder County Center for Judaism. In addition, he teaches extensively throughout Boulder County and is the author of "Finding the Joy in Everyday Living," a book of short chapters explaining the ways to access happiness through appreciation, gratitude, and a sense of purpose.

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