Parsha Q&A - Parshat Balak

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Parsha Q&A

Parshat Balak

For the week ending July 7, 2001 / 16 Tammuz 5761

Contents:
  • Parsha Questions
  • Kasha
  • I Did Not Know That!
  • Recommended Reading List
  • Answers to Parsha Questions
  • Back issues of Parsha Q&A
  • Subscription Information
  • Ohr Somayach Home Page

  • This publication is also available in the following formats: [Text] Explanation of these symbols


    Parsha Questions

    Answers Contents
    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 Hashem grant prophecy to the evil Bilaam?
    4. Why did Balak think Bilaam's curse would work?
    5. When did Bilaam receive his prophecies?
    6. Hashem 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?

    Recommended Reading List


    Ramban
    22:5  
    Balak's Rise to Power
    22:20   Bilaam's Mission
    22:23   The Donkeye
    23:16   Bilaam's Prophecy
    24:20   Amalek
    Sforno
    22:2
      What Balak Saw
    22:6   Bilaam's Power
    23:22   Jewish Conquest


    Kasha

    How would you answer this question on the Parsha?

    It says that G-d was angry that Bilaam went to curse the Jews (22:22). But G-d gave Bilaam permission to go, so why was G-d angry? Rashi answers this by saying that G-d was angry at Bilaam for going to curse the Jews "with great desire." But where does Rashi see this in the text?

    Answer: It doesn't say G-d was angry at Bilaam "because he went" but rather "because he was a goer." (Not "ki halach" but rather "ki holeich".) The difference is subtle and significant: For Bilaam, going to curse the Jews wasn't a mere action among actions; rather, it was an action that defined him. At that moment, Bilaam was a "Goer," a "Jew-curser." When a person expresses his essence, he acts with desire.

    - Based on Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch

    Do you have a Kasha? Write to kasha@ohr.edu with your questions on any Parsha!


    I Did Not Know That!

    Bilaam and Balak were ingrates! They would not have been born if not for Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov: Bilaam's ancestor Betuel was born in the merit of Avraham binding Yitzchak on the altar, and Bilaam's ancestor Lavan had children in Yaakov's merit. Balak's Moabite ancestors descended from Lot after Avraham saved Lot's life.

    Ba'al Haturim


    Answers to this Week's Questions

    Questions Contents

    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 Hashem 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. Hashem asked Bilaam, "Who are these men with you?" What did Bilaam deduce from this question?
      22:9 - He mistakenly reasoned that Hashem 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 Hashem 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." Hashem 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, "Hashem told me to go but later sent an angel to stop me. The same thing happened to Avraham: Hashem 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 Hashem, "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 "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.

     


    Written and Compiled by Rabbi Eliyahu Kane & Rabbi Reuven Subar
    General Editor: Rabbi Moshe Newman
    Production Design: Michael Treblow

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