Parsha

For the week ending 5 July 2014 / 7 Tammuz 5774

Parshat Balak

The Color of HeavenArtscroll

Questions

  1. Why did Moav consult specifically with Midian regarding their strategy against the Jews?
  2. What was Balak's status before becoming Moav's king?
  3. Why did G-d grant prophecy to the evil Bilaam?
  4. Why did Balak think Bilaam's curse would work?
  5. When did Bilaam receive his prophecies?
  6. G-d asked Bilaam, "Who are these men with you?" What did Bilaam deduce from this question?
  7. How do we know Bilaam hated the Jews more than Balak did?
  8. What is evidence of Bilaam's arrogance?
  9. In what way was the malach that opposed Bilaam an angel of mercy?
  10. How did Bilaam die?
  11. Why did the malach kill Bilaam's donkey?
  12. Bilaam compared his meeting with an angel to someone else's meeting with an angel. Who was the other person and what was the comparison?
  13. Bilaam told Balak to build seven altars. Why specifically seven?
  14. Who in Jewish history seemed fit for a curse, but got a blessing instead?
  15. Why are the Jewish People compared to lions?
  16. On Bilaam's third attempt to curse the Jews, he changed his strategy. What was different?
  17. What were Bilaam's three main characteristics?
  18. What did Bilaam see that made him decide not to curse the Jews?
  19. What phrase in Bilaam's self-description can be translated in two opposite ways, both of which come out meaning the same thing?
  20. Bilaam told Balak that the Jews' G-d hates what?

Answers

All references are to the verses and Rashi's commentary, unless otherwise stated

  1. Why did Moav consult specifically with Midian regarding their strategy against the Jews?
    22:4 - Since Moshe grew up in Midian, the Moabites thought the Midianites might know wherein lay Moshe's power.
  2. What was Balak's status before becoming Moav's king?
    22:4 - He was a prince of Midian.
  3. Why did G-d grant prophecy to the evil Bilaam?
    22:5 - So the other nations couldn't say, "If we had had prophets, we also would have become righteous."
  4. Why did Balak think Bilaam's curse would work?
    22:6 - Because Bilaam's curse had helped Sichon defeat Moav.
  5. When did Bilaam receive his prophecies?
    22:8 - Only at night.
  6. G-d asked Bilaam, "Who are these men with you?" What did Bilaam deduce from this question?
    22:9 - He mistakenly reasoned that G-d isn't all-knowing.
  7. How do we know Bilaam hated the Jews more than Balak did?
    22:11 - Balak wanted only to drive the Jews from the land. Bilaam sought to exterminate them completely.
  8. What is evidence of Bilaam's arrogance?
    22:13 - He implied that G-d wouldn't let him go with the Moabite princes due to their lesser dignity.
  9. In what way was the malach that opposed Bilaam an angel of mercy?
    22:22 - It mercifully tried to stop Bilaam from sinning and destroying himself.
  10. How did Bilaam die?
    22:23 - He was killed with a sword.
  11. Why did the malach kill Bilaam's donkey?
    22:33 - So that people shouldn't see it and say, "Here's the donkey that silenced Bilaam." G-d is concerned with human dignity.
  12. Bilaam compared his meeting with an angel to someone else's meeting with an angel. Who was the other person and what was the comparison?
    22:34 - Avraham. Bilaam said, "G-d told me to go but later sent an angel to stop me. The same thing happened to Avraham: G-d told Avraham to sacrifice Yitzchak but later canceled the command through an angel."
  13. Bilaam told Balak to build seven altars. Why specifically seven?
    23:4 - Corresponding to the seven altars built by the Avot. Bilaam said to G-d, "The Jewish People's ancestors built seven altars, but I alone have built altars equal to all of them."
  14. Who in Jewish history seemed fit for a curse, but got a blessing instead?
    23:8 - Yaakov, when Yitzchak blessed him.
  15. Why are the Jewish People compared to lions?
    23:24 - They rise each morning and "strengthen" themselves to do mitzvot.
  16. On Bilaam's third attempt to curse the Jews, he changed his strategy. What was different?
    24:1 - He began mentioning the Jewish People's sins, hoping thus to be able to curse them.
  17. What were Bilaam's three main characteristics?
    24:2 - An evil eye, pride and greed.
  18. What did Bilaam see that made him decide not to curse the Jews?
    24:2 - He saw each tribe dwelling without intermingling. He saw the tents arranged so no one could see into his neighbor's tent.
  19. What phrase in Bilaam's self-description can be translated in two opposite ways, both of which come out meaning the same thing?
    24:3 - "Shatum ha'ayin." It means either "the poked-out eye," implying blindness in one eye; or it means "the open eye", which means vision but implies blindness in the other eye.
  20. Bilaam told Balak that the Jews' G-d hates what?
    24:14 - Promiscuity.

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