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Beit Midrash Torah Portion and Tanach Balak

Parashat Balak

Bilam's unsolicited prophecy

3132
Dedicated to the memory of
Amram son of Sultana
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Bil’am tries very hard to curse Israel. It is only after several failed attempts that he finally realizes that God will not allow Israel to be cursed. Eventually, he turns quite sarcastic towards his patron, Balak, King of Moav, and then provides him with one more "free," unsolicited prophecy (Bamidbar 24:14-24).

In this last speech, Bil’am is finally free from his internal struggle and his attempts to satisfy Balak's desire to pronounce a curse. Bil’am is at long last able to see things in a wider perspective. He soars in prophetic genius. With prophetic insight, he is able to envisage the people of Israel as they are meant to be. He transcends the narrow vision of Israel in the desert, his new perception leading him to an appreciation of the true destiny of the Jewish people.

Now Bil’am is able to glimpse at the ideal of Israel's future. Israel will emerge from the desert and achieve its destiny as a nation dwelling securely and proudly in its own land. The many enemies surrounding Eretz Yisrael and massing on its borders, Mo’av, Edom, Se’ir, and Amalek, are diminished in their destructive power and importance. The Kenites - the one nation truly willing to live in peace with Israel and acknowledge Israel's role in Eretz Yisrael - are envisaged as dwelling happily and peacefully in the land, secure in their own national identity, yet acknowledging Israel's divinely sanctioned presence.

As we read Bil’am's inspired words, we understand that not only is his vision of how Israel would finally achieve full self-realization true, but that we today, living as Jews in an independent state of Israel, have been privileged to participate in its partial fulfillment.

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