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Parashat Balak

פרשת בלק

Nm. 22:2-25:9 | Mc. 5:6-6:8

Balak, king of Moav, asks his prophet, Bilam, to curse Israel. God then sends an angel to protect his people; Bilam’s donkey sees the angel, strikes its owner, preventing him from fulfilling his task 3 times. Instead, 3 times Bilam ends up blessing Israel. The people fall under the spell of the Moabites and begin to worship their god, Peor. A plague then spreads through the camp. Pinhas kills Zimri, prince of the tribe of Shimon, who took a Midianite princess to his tent. The plague eventually dies out.



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Parashat Balak is the one where a prophet or sorcerer, who is not a member of the people of Israel, is tasked with cursing the people of Israel by the king of Moab. This king's name is precisely Balak, hence the name of the parashah. The sorcerer or prophet was named Bilam son of Beor.

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In recent weeks we have seen how the People of Israel faced enemies and defeated them one by one, with the help and spiritual support of Adonai and guided by Moshe: an unbeatable duo.

And we come to Parashat Balak. A confusing parashah. A story in which a foreign king, Balak, king of Moav, puts together his own duo with Bilam: a pagan sorcerer with supernatural powers, among which is the ability to dialogue with Adonai. Our God. The God of the People of Israel—a strange fact in itself.

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