Commentary on Parashat Balak, Numbers 22:2 - 25:9
Reprinted with permission from Torah Topics for Today.
We are surrounded by things that tempt us. Unhealthy foods, video games, and gossip are just a few of the things enticing us. It’s hard to make the decision to eat healthily. Or to not play “just one more round!” Or to keep from spreading a juicy piece of news. When confronted with a temptation, we know what the right decision is, but in the moment, it can be so hard to stay connected to our values, be they healthful eating, productive use of time, or not engaging in lashon hara or gossip.
In this week’s Torah portion we have one of the most famous – and fateful – examples of someone giving in to a temptation. In the Garden of Eden, God told Adam not to eat from the tree of knowledge of good and bad. But the snake tempts Eve, and she eats from the tree. Eve was tempted because she forgot about consequences and saw that the tree was appetizing and a source of wisdom. Shortsighted, Eve fell to temptation because she thought only of immediate gratification.
When we give in to small temptations, our consequences might not be as grave as Eve’s, but they also take a toll on us. When we know that something is important to us, but continually give in to temptation, we stop valuing that thing. We lose the long-term value in place of instant gratification. Not giving in to temptations helps us to clarify our values and stick to our convictions.
TALK TO YOUR KIDS about how to stay “No” to temptations.
CONNECT TO THEIR LIVES:
· What are some things that tempt you?
· What are temptations that you should say “No” to?
· How can you try to avoid or overcome some of your temptations?
· Does thinking long-range help us to handle temptations in our lives?
Origin: Hebrew, literally “evil tongue,” slanderous speech prohibited in the Torah.
Pronunced: TORE-uh, Origin: Hebrew, the Five Books of Moses.