Parshat Balak – June 26, 2021 – 16 Tammuz 5781

Daf Hashavua – A weekly digest of the Parashat Hashavua

Parshat Balak

  • Stone Chumash, pg. 856
  • 104 verses
  • Haftorah: Micha ch. V “Vehaya Sheris Yaakov” p. 1189

Important Shabbat Times

  • Candle lighting:            8:05pm
  • Vasikin:                          5:49:37am
  • Latest Shma am:         9:28am
  • Earliest Mincha:          1:43pm
  • Havdalah:                     9:08pm
  • Zoom Havdalah:          9:25pm

Fast of 17th of Tammuz

  • This Sunday, June 27
  • Fast Begins 4:13am
  • Fast Ends: 9:01pm
  • From 17 Tamuz until Tisha b’av, one should refrain from taking haircuts (men and women), and attending weddings.

General Introduction

Parshat Balak contains two major themes:

  • The saga of the attempted curse of Bil’am: King Balak of Moav realizes that the Israelites cannot be vanquished through military might, and he believes that cursing them might cause their downfall. He attempts to hire Bil’am, but is rebuffed by him. Eventually, G-d tells Bil’am that he may indeed be hired by Balak, yet is warned that he will be forced to say only that which G-d desires him to say. After Bil’am continually blesses Israel, Balak fires Bil’am! However, before Bil’am goes, he advises Balak to engineer the downfall of  the Israelites by causing them to sin.
  • Moav sends in the women of Midyan to entice the Israelites: Shlumiel ben Tzurishadai, the prince of Shimon, sins with the daughter of Balak, right in front of Moshe. Pinchas, the grandson of Aharon, takes matters into his own hands, and shishkebabs them both, Shlumiel, and the Midyanite princess, Kosbi.

Haftorah

Stone Chumash pg. 1189: The prophet Micha reminds the people of the miracles, which G-d performed for them, including the miracle of the blessings of Bil’am. Ultimately, all G-d requires from us (from the perspective of morality) is to seek justice, to behave mercifully toward others, and to walk modestly with G-d!  

The Moral of the Story

Our Haftorah requires us to act justly, to exercise chesed (loving kindness) and to walk modestly with G-d. But what exactly is modesty? Many people mistakenly believe that this refers exclusively to modest dress. While dressing modestly is indeed a virtue, for both men and women, the Jewish concept of modesty far exceeds mere sartorial piety. Modesty is obligatory in speech as well, i.e. even immodest words, which our society has accepted, and considers benign, should not be part of a Jews’ vocabulary.