Numbers 22:2 - 25:9

Micah 5:6 - 6:8

In this Torah portion, Balak, the king of Moab, asks Balaam to curse the Israelites after he sees them defeat various nations in battle. Balaam’s donkey sees an angel of God and refuses to move any further. Balaam hits the donkey. God speaks through the mouth of the donkey to tell him not to curse the Israelites. Instead of cursing the Israelites, Balaam blesses them.

The “Worst” Torah Portion

Through it, we come to understand that with words and with decrees, worlds are created — and worlds are destroyed.

More on this Torah Portion

Distance and Proximity

The story of King Balak and Balaam demonstrates that truly seeing others is what allows fears to dispel.

Open Your Eyes

The prophet Balaam's curse, which becomes a blessing, is a reflection of the relationship between God and the Israelites.

The Gift of Speech

What Balaam's donkey and under-represented minorities have in common.

No and Maybe

We cannot slip into loopholes and forego responsibility.

The Nature of Balaam’s Prophecy

How to learn from biblical nature imagery.

Balaam Versus Pinchas

Pinchas saw the relationship of an Israelite and a Midianite as a curse--but perhaps he, like Balaam, could have turned it into a blessing.

Spirit Strength

Balak intuited an important truth about the Israelites: Their strength was spiritual, not military.

Parashat Balak: Summary

Cursing and blessing the Israelites.

Seeing Their Faces But Not Their Doors

The Israelites' dwellings in the wilderness provide us with a model for ensuring the existence and dignity of housing for all members of society.

Not Seeing Is The Sin

Like Balaam, we should open our eyes to seeing the problematic paths we take in life.

Which Is Mightier: The Word Or The Sword?

Balaam's death by sword at the hands of the Israelites is ironic retribution for his verbal power over them.

No Rest(s) For The Wicked

Unlike Jewish prophets, Balaam was merely a mouthpiece for the word of God, not an active participant.

Instructed To Curse, Inspired To Bless

He came to curse, and ended up reciting a blessing so beautiful it is prominent in our liturgy.

The Place From Which We Pray

Unlike Abraham, Bil'am failed to examine his own prayers and intentions, attributing their failure to his location of prayer.

Jealousy

Jealousy can paralyze us and force us to define ourselves by another person's successes.

Saying No To Temptation

Not giving in to temptations helps us to clarify our values and stick to our convictions.

Parashat Balak Quiz

Learn more about the weekly Torah portion.