Balak 5771

July 3, 2011

7 min read


Balak (Numbers 22:2-25:9 )

GOOD MORNING! Two 18 year olds met with a rabbi regarding their upcoming marriage.  The rabbi greeted them warmly and excitedly asked, "Do you have a wedding date?"  They said that they had a date.  He then enquired, "And do you have a date for divorce?"  They were shocked!  "How can you possibly ask us that question?  That is so insensitive and so mean!"

The rabbi then challenged, "So, you're planning to stay married?"  They responded "Yes" and the rabbi entreated, "What percentage of people getting married intend to stay married forever?"  They answered "100%."  The rabbi rhetorically queried, "And what percentage will eventually get divorced?  The answer is 50%!  Why?  Obviously, love does not conquer all.  The largest stressor leading to divorce is economic.  You ask me how I can ask you if you have a date for divorce?  You are both young with only a high school education.  You have low income jobs and your families can't support you.  How can you possibly expect to stay married?"  (See Dvar Torah.)

Marriage is not a commitment that one makes lightly or in haste.  Love is not blind; infatuation is blind.  Love is open-eyed.  You see the positive, but you also see the negative.  Love is the pleasure one has from seeing the good in another person.  While love is vital to a marriage, it is insufficient to make it work. has created a brilliant, witty 3 minute video, "4 Ways to Marry the Wrong Person."  I was asked to share this with you, my beloved readers --which is my pleasure!  However, I also thought, "Why should my readers be short changed with only 4 ways?  Here are 10 ways to marry the wrong person -- created by my friend and colleague, Rabbi Dov Heller, in Get The Ring, a guide for finding and marrying the right person!



1) Expect the person to change after marriage.  One must accept people for who they are.  Don't marry potential for change, especially regarding religious differences, bad communication skills, bad habits.

2) Focus on chemistry, not on character.  Never get married solely because you are in love.  Love does not conquer all.  Oftentimes people mistake infatuation or lust for love.

3) Don't make an effort to understand the emotional needs of the other person.

4) Don't share a common life purpose and priorities.  People connect because of chemistry, common interests and a common life purpose.  Common life purpose builds a deeper, stronger bond.

5) Get intimately involved before you are intellectually committed.  One's ability to evaluate the character, quality and life philosophy of another person is clouded by having an intimate relationship first.  One tends to romanticize the relationship; it is harder to face issues.

6) Don't have a deep emotional connection to the person.  We are not talking about passion.  Do you respect and admire this person (not are you impressed with the person)?  Do you trust this person?  Do you feel a sense of peace with this person?

7) Choose someone with whom you don't feel emotionally safe. If you can't express your feelings and opinions, if the person is controlling or raises his/her voice, this has the potential to be an abusive relationship.

8) Don't discuss essential and important issues before getting married.  What are the other person's goals, ambitions, values?  Does the person want to have children?  How are the children to be raised?  Hear what the person says and how s/he says it.

9) Think that marriage will solve your problems.  If a person is unhappy as a person and with his life as a single, most likely he or she will be miserable in marriage.  One takes his/her emotional baggage into the relationship.  Your spouse in not responsible for your happiness.

10) Pick someone who is not emotionally healthy.  A person with issues brings more than himself/herself into the marriage.  If there is a dominating parent, then there are 3 people in the marriage and one's spouse can't fully be emotionally open.  Never marry an addict -- whether to drugs, work, hobbies, status.  You can't fix them!

One page is too short to convey the depth and breadth of wisdom to find the right person and making the marriage work.  May I suggest, buy ( for an investment in your future happiness and the future happiness of your children?  And watch the video --!

For more on "Marriage" go to!


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Torah Portion of the Week

This week's portion is one of the most fascinating psychologically-revealing portions in the whole Torah!  Bilaam, a non-Jewish prophet, was granted a level of prophecy close to Moshe's level of prophecy.  The Almighty gave Bilaam these powers so that the nations of the world could not say at some point in the future, "If we had a prophet like Moshe, we too would have accepted the Torah and would have lived according to it."  Bilaam is an intriguing character -- honor-driven, arrogant and self-serving. Unfortunately, not too unique amongst mankind.

Balak, the king of Moav, wanted to hire Bilaam to curse the Jewish people for a fortune of money.  It is interesting that Balak believed in God and the power of invoking a curse from God, yet thought that God would change His mind about His Chosen People.  (God is not a man who changes his mind).  Bilaam was very desirous to accept the assignment to curse the Jews -- more for the profit motive than the prophet motive.

The Almighty allowed Bilaam to go to Balak (cautioning him to only say what God told him).  The Almighty gives every person free-will and allows us to go in the direction that we choose.  Three times Bilaam tried to curse us and three times the Almighty placed blessings in his mouth. Balak was furious!  So, Bilaam gave him advice with hopes of collecting his fee --"If you want to destroy the Jewish people, entice the men with Moabite women and tell the women not to submit until the men bow down to an idol."  Balak followed the advice and consequently the Almighty brought a plague against the Jewish people because the men fell for Bilaam's plot.  We see from this that the Almighty hates licentiousness and idol worship.

* * *

Dvar Torah
based on Growth Through Torah by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin

Regarding Bilaam's decision to go to Balak to curse the Jews, the Torah states:

"And the Almighty was angry that (Bilaam) went and an angel of the Almighty stood in the way as an adversary against him" (Numbers 22:22).

Rashi explains that the angel that stood in Bilaam's way was an angel of mercy that wanted to prevent him from transgressing and dying.  In verse 31 we read that the angel had a drawn sword.  Rabbi Zalman Sorotzkin commented on this that at times an angel of mercy who is trying to save a person will appear to him as an adversary who is out to harm him; he has to be willing to take an aggressive stance in order to prevent someone from destroying himself and others.

True compassion is based on seeing the entire picture.  For instance, a parent who allows his child to do whatever he wants just because he does not want his child ever to cry, might allow his child to do all kinds of things that are destructive both spiritually and to his physical well-being.  When you really care about someone, you do not want him to harm himself.  You must be willing at times to be strict in order to protect him/her from his/her own ignorance.


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By all means, marry.
If you get a good wife, you'll become happy;
if you get a bad one, you'll become a philosopher.
-- Socrates


With Deep Appreciation to

Len & Michelle Leader


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