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Real Power

Chukat-Balak (Numbers 19:1-25:9 )

by Rabbi Menachem Weiman

What would you do if you were one of the world's greatest magicians? Not like David Blaine or slight-of-hand magic, but real magic. Would you sell your abilities to become wealthy? If you knew God blessed you with these abilities, would you use them to do something He didn't want you to do?

Is there real magic?

The forces of power in the world are created by God, and some people have figured out how to tap into them. We often find that which we desperately seek. Many of us are curious, fascinated and skeptical of strange powers, ESP, psychics, or people into real magic. But some people strongly gravitate toward impure forces, and try in many ways to acquire unusual abilities. Others are merely "blessed" with these abilities.

Everything in life is a test and a challenge. In the areas of normal human behavior, we have lots of challenges. Relationships, work, honesty and love -- a lifetime of spiritual struggles follows us all around.

Along with life's struggles come challenges and difficulties that we don't relate to as a spiritual task, but rather merely a hurdle from the natural world. We wish we could magically avoid or overcome the hurdle. Is this the fascination with super heroes like Spiderman and Wonder Woman? Do they help us vicariously enjoy the world through the fantasy of extra abilities?


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Bilaam was one man who had special abilities, and those talents merely allowed him to do more spiritual damage and become more of an egotist. His self-worth was so large that he thought he deserved the royal treatment. In Numbers chapter 22, we see a person who appears on the outside to righteous and only want to do what God wants. Yet he is easily led to do that which God doesn't want. How come? Because it's all a show. He really doesn't care about God, even though he recognizes Him as the source of his blessings. He is blinded by honor and gifts.

This is precisely the danger of special abilities. The stronger you are, the more people you have the power to help and to hurt.

As human beings, we have incredible abilities that go largely untapped. Plus we are able to ask the Almighty for assistance that we lack in many areas. We can ask God to save our life, heal the sick, or stop a war. And He often answers our prayers.

One request remains as one of the most important and often forgotten: for the ability to use whatever blessings we receive only for the good. Let us not fall into the trap of using our blessings to go away from our Benefactor. What would be more of an insult to Him than that?


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As one sage once put it, "God runs almost everything in the entire world. And the last bit left... He also controls."

Even with all of his abilities, Bilaam was still unable to curse the Jewish people, as Balak the king wanted him to. It wasn't for lack of trying. Bilaam did his best, but when he opened his mouth to curse, God turned his words into a blessing.

A person can point a gun, but if the Almighty really doesn't want the victim to die, they'll survive, or the bullet will jam, or the shooter will miss. There are so many ways for God to circumvent the plan of the killer. Part of life's plan is that the Almighty gives us free will and doesn't force us into doing mitzvahs or avoiding transgressions. Yet if He really wants to stop something from happening, He can. And He often does.


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Why did Balak choose to hire Bilaam to curse the Jews? Because Balak recognized that the Jews' true power lies in their mouths. Prayer is the true power of the servants of God, so to fight them Balak looked for someone else who had the power of the mouth.

The Jewish power is prayer. That's what helps us the most, because with prayer you can tap into the power of the Almighty. With His help, is there anything you can't accomplish?

Don't waste your time with minor powers like magic, ESP and psychic abilities. Develop the power of prayer -- and you can have the world in the palm of your hand.


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Spiritual Exercise:

For the next three days, pray for God to open your eyes to more of your innate abilities.

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