Blessings & Curses: Numbers 22-1-21 When the children of Israel were on their journey to the promised land, they moved and camped in the plains of Moab which was on the side of the Jordan river across from the city of Jericho. The inhabitants of the land had heard of their exploits and how the God of Israel had delivered them. The Moab people were very upset and afraid. The king of Moab, named Balak, sent his princes to call on the services of Balaam who was a practitioner of divination. Divination was the art of revealing the future and using supernatural means to cause good fortune or curses. Although Balaam sought supernatural knowledge and acknowledged God, he was not called a prophet of God in the Bible but a diviner. In the old testament the practice of divination was against God's law. In Deuteronomy 18:10-11 God tells the Israelites that when they come into the promised land they are not to follow the ways of those nations. They are not to practice divination, witchcraft, fortune telling, consult spirits, interpret omens or use sorcery. Balaam was hired for a fee to put a curse on the Israelites. He had the reputation of successfully blessing or cursing people. King Balak sent his princes on a long journey to get him. He told the princes to stay the night while he sought a word from God. God asked Balaam, “Who are these men with you?” Balaam replied that they came from King Balak and were sent so he could accompany them and put a curse on the people who had come out of Egypt. King Balak wanted to defeat and push them out of Moab. God told Balaam not to go with the princes and said, “you shall not curse the people, for they are blessed.” In the morning Balaam sent the princes of Balak back home to tell the king that God had not given him permission to leave. He left out the message that God had blessed the Israelites and he was not to curse them. The king sent back more honorable and important people to ask Balaam to return with this group and he promised Balaam honor and whatever he wanted. Although God had told him “no” the first time, Balaam said, “If Balak would give me his house full of silver and gold, I cannot go beyond the word of the Lord my God, to do less or more.” However, he said he would seek what God had to say that night. Again Balaam sought God and this time God said, “If the men come to call you, rise up, and go with them; but yet the word which I shall say unto you, you shall do.” The scripture does not say whether the men the next day came to call on Balak or if Balak got up himself and got ready to go. The next verse says that Balaam rose in the morning, saddled his donkey, and went with the princes of Moab. The next verse says that God's anger was aroused because he went with them. Balak disobeyed God and his heart was set on getting wealth. Perhaps he thought he could place the curse, make a lot of money, and it wouldn't make a difference because the Israelites were blessed. But God told him not to curse them when He told him not to go. Have you prayed and felt that God was telling you what you should do, but deep down you wanted a different answer? Perhaps you were praying about taking a certain job that would pay more but it would take up your Sundays and you couldn't go to church or you would be working so much and wouldn't be spending enough time with your family. Perhaps there's a toxic relationship or bad influence in your life that you know you need to end, but you are afraid of being alone. Have you been tempted to read a horoscope to get guidance on what you should do rather than seeking God. Have you given God scenarios like “if you want me to do this then make this happen…?”Read the rest at https://litwithprayer.substack.com/p/blessings-and-curses?sd=pf
Numbers 24 NLT read aloud by Simon MacFarlane. 1 By now Balaam realized that the Lord was determined to bless Israel, so he did not resort to divination as before. Instead, he turned and looked out toward the wilderness, 2 where he saw the people of Israel camped, tribe by tribe. Then the Spirit of God came upon him, 3 and this is the message he delivered: “This is the message of Balaam son of Beor, the message of the man whose eyes see clearly, 4 the message of one who hears the words of God, who sees a vision from the Almighty, who bows down with eyes wide open: 5 How beautiful are your tents, O Jacob; how lovely are your homes, O Israel! 6 They spread before me like palm groves, like gardens by the riverside. They are like tall trees planted by the Lord, like cedars beside the waters. 7 Water will flow from their buckets; their offspring have all they need. Their king will be greater than Agag; their kingdom will be exalted. 8 God brought them out of Egypt; for them he is as strong as a wild ox. He devours all the nations that oppose him, breaking their bones in pieces, shooting them with arrows. 9 Like a lion, Israel crouches and lies down; like a lioness, who dares to arouse her? Blessed is everyone who blesses you, O Israel, and cursed is everyone who curses you.” 10 King Balak flew into a rage against Balaam. He angrily clapped his hands and shouted, “I called you to curse my enemies! Instead, you have blessed them three times. 11 Now get out of here! Go back home! I promised to reward you richly, but the Lord has kept you from your reward.” 12 Balaam told Balak, “Don't you remember what I told your messengers? I said, 13 ‘Even if Balak were to give me his palace filled with silver and gold, I would be powerless to do anything against the will of the Lord.' I told you that I could say only what the Lord says! 14 Now I am returning to my own people. But first let me tell you what the Israelites will do to your people in the future.” 15 This is the message Balaam delivered: “This is the message of Balaam son of Beor, the message of the man whose eyes see clearly, 16 the message of one who hears the words of God, who has knowledge from the Most High, who sees a vision from the Almighty, who bows down with eyes wide open: 17 I see him, but not here and now. I perceive him, but far in the distant future. A star will rise from Jacob; a scepter will emerge from Israel. It will crush the heads of Moab's people, cracking the skulls of the people of Sheth. 18 Edom will be taken over, and Seir, its enemy, will be conquered, while Israel marches on in triumph. 19 A ruler will rise in Jacob who will destroy the survivors of Ir.” 20 Then Balaam looked over toward the people of Amalek and delivered this message: “Amalek was the greatest of nations, but its destiny is destruction!” 21 Then he looked over toward the Kenites and delivered this message: “Your home is secure; your nest is set in the rocks. 22 But the Kenites will be destroyed when Assyria takes you captive.” 23 Balaam concluded his messages by saying: “Alas, who can survive unless God has willed it? 24 Ships will come from the coasts of Cyprus; [...]
Numbers 23 NLT read aloud by Simon MacFarlane. 1 Then Balaam said to King Balak, “Build me seven altars here, and prepare seven young bulls and seven rams for me to sacrifice.” 2 Balak followed his instructions, and the two of them sacrificed a young bull and a ram on each altar. 3 Then Balaam said to Balak, “Stand here by your burnt offerings, and I will go to see if the Lord will respond to me. Then I will tell you whatever he reveals to me.” So Balaam went alone to the top of a bare hill, 4 and God met him there. Balaam said to him, “I have prepared seven altars and have sacrificed a young bull and a ram on each altar.” 5 The Lord gave Balaam a message for King Balak. Then he said, “Go back to Balak and give him my message.” 6 So Balaam returned and found the king standing beside his burnt offerings with all the officials of Moab. 7 This was the message Balaam delivered: “Balak summoned me to come from Aram; the king of Moab brought me from the eastern hills. ‘Come,' he said, ‘curse Jacob for me! Come and announce Israel's doom.' 8 But how can I curse those whom God has not cursed? How can I condemn those whom the Lord has not condemned? 9 I see them from the cliff tops; I watch them from the hills. I see a people who live by themselves, set apart from other nations. 10 Who can count Jacob's descendants, as numerous as dust? Who can count even a fourth of Israel's people? Let me die like the righteous; let my life end like theirs.” 11 Then King Balak demanded of Balaam, “What have you done to me? I brought you to curse my enemies. Instead, you have blessed them!” 12 But Balaam replied, “I will speak only the message that the Lord puts in my mouth.” 13 Then King Balak told him, “Come with me to another place. There you will see another part of the nation of Israel, but not all of them. Curse at least that many!” 14 So Balak took Balaam to the plateau of Zophim on Pisgah Peak. He built seven altars there and offered a young bull and a ram on each altar. 15 Then Balaam said to the king, “Stand here by your burnt offerings while I go over there to meet the Lord.” 16 And the Lord met Balaam and gave him a message. Then he said, “Go back to Balak and give him my message.” 17 So Balaam returned and found the king standing beside his burnt offerings with all the officials of Moab. “What did the Lord say?” Balak asked eagerly. 18 This was the message Balaam delivered: “Rise up, Balak, and listen! Hear me, son of Zippor. 19 God is not a man, so he does not lie. He is not human, so he does not change his mind. Has he ever spoken and failed to act? Has he ever promised and not carried it through? 20 Listen, I received a command to bless; God has blessed, and I cannot reverse it! 21 No misfortune is in his plan for Jacob; no trouble is in store for Israel. For the Lord their God is with them; he has been proclaimed their king. 22 God brought them out of Egypt; for them he is as strong as a wild ox. 23 No curse can touch Jacob; no magic has any power against Israel. For now it will be said of Jacob, ‘What wonders God has done for Israel!' 24 These people rise up like a lioness, like a majestic lion rousing itself. [...]
Psalms and Wisdom: Song of Solomon 8:1–7 Song of Solomon 8:1–7 (Listen) Longing for Her Beloved 8 Oh that you were like a brother to me who nursed at my mother's breasts! If I found you outside, I would kiss you, and none would despise me.2 I would lead you and bring you into the house of my mother— she who used to teach me. I would give you spiced wine to drink, the juice of my pomegranate.3 His left hand is under my head, and his right hand embraces me!4 I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem, that you not stir up or awaken love until it pleases. 5 Who is that coming up from the wilderness, leaning on her beloved? Under the apple tree I awakened you. There your mother was in labor with you; there she who bore you was in labor. 6 Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm, for love is strong as death, jealousy1 is fierce as the grave.2 Its flashes are flashes of fire, the very flame of the LORD.7 Many waters cannot quench love, neither can floods drown it. If a man offered for love all the wealth of his house, he3 would be utterly despised. Footnotes  8:6 Or ardor  8:6 Hebrew as Sheol  8:7 Or it (ESV) Pentateuch and History: Judges 11:4–40 Judges 11:4–40 (Listen) 4 After a time the Ammonites made war against Israel. 5 And when the Ammonites made war against Israel, the elders of Gilead went to bring Jephthah from the land of Tob. 6 And they said to Jephthah, “Come and be our leader, that we may fight against the Ammonites.” 7 But Jephthah said to the elders of Gilead, “Did you not hate me and drive me out of my father's house? Why have you come to me now when you are in distress?” 8 And the elders of Gilead said to Jephthah, “That is why we have turned to you now, that you may go with us and fight against the Ammonites and be our head over all the inhabitants of Gilead.” 9 Jephthah said to the elders of Gilead, “If you bring me home again to fight against the Ammonites, and the LORD gives them over to me, I will be your head.” 10 And the elders of Gilead said to Jephthah, “The LORD will be witness between us, if we do not do as you say.” 11 So Jephthah went with the elders of Gilead, and the people made him head and leader over them. And Jephthah spoke all his words before the LORD at Mizpah. 12 Then Jephthah sent messengers to the king of the Ammonites and said, “What do you have against me, that you have come to me to fight against my land?” 13 And the king of the Ammonites answered the messengers of Jephthah, “Because Israel on coming up from Egypt took away my land, from the Arnon to the Jabbok and to the Jordan; now therefore restore it peaceably.” 14 Jephthah again sent messengers to the king of the Ammonites 15 and said to him, “Thus says Jephthah: Israel did not take away the land of Moab or the land of the Ammonites, 16 but when they came up from Egypt, Israel went through the wilderness to the Red Sea and came to Kadesh. 17 Israel then sent messengers to the king of Edom, saying, ‘Please let us pass through your land,' but the king of Edom would not listen. And they sent also to the king of Moab, but he would not consent. So Israel remained at Kadesh. 18 “Then they journeyed through the wilderness and went around the land of Edom and the land of Moab and arrived on the east side of the land of Moab and camped on the other side of the Arnon. But they did not enter the territory of Moab, for the Arnon was the boundary of Moab. 19 Israel then sent messengers to Sihon king of the Amorites, king of Heshbon, and Israel said to him, ‘Please let us pass through your land to our country,' 20 but Sihon did not trust Israel to pass through his territory, so Sihon gathered all his people together and encamped at Jahaz and fought with Israel. 21 And the LORD, the God of Israel, gave Sihon and all his people into the hand of Israel, and they defeated them. So Israel took possession of all the land of the Amorites, who inhabited that country. 22 And they took possession of all the territory of the Amorites from the Arnon to the Jabbok and from the wilderness to the Jordan. 23 So then the LORD, the God of Israel, dispossessed the Amorites from before his people Israel; and are you to take possession of them? 24 Will you not possess what Chemosh your god gives you to possess? And all that the LORD our God has dispossessed before us, we will possess. 25 Now are you any better than Balak the son of Zippor, king of Moab? Did he ever contend against Israel, or did he ever go to war with them? 26 While Israel lived in Heshbon and its villages, and in Aroer and its villages, and in all the cities that are on the banks of the Arnon, 300 years, why did you not deliver them within that time? 27 I therefore have not sinned against you, and you do me wrong by making war on me. The LORD, the Judge, decide this day between the people of Israel and the people of Ammon.” 28 But the king of the Ammonites did not listen to the words of Jephthah that he sent to him. Jephthah's Tragic Vow 29 Then the Spirit of the LORD was upon Jephthah, and he passed through Gilead and Manasseh and passed on to Mizpah of Gilead, and from Mizpah of Gilead he passed on to the Ammonites. 30 And Jephthah made a vow to the LORD and said, “If you will give the Ammonites into my hand, 31 then whatever1 comes out from the doors of my house to meet me when I return in peace from the Ammonites shall be the LORD's, and I will offer it2 up for a burnt offering.” 32 So Jephthah crossed over to the Ammonites to fight against them, and the LORD gave them into his hand. 33 And he struck them from Aroer to the neighborhood of Minnith, twenty cities, and as far as Abel-keramim, with a great blow. So the Ammonites were subdued before the people of Israel. 34 Then Jephthah came to his home at Mizpah. And behold, his daughter came out to meet him with tambourines and with dances. She was his only child; besides her he had neither son nor daughter. 35 And as soon as he saw her, he tore his clothes and said, “Alas, my daughter! You have brought me very low, and you have become the cause of great trouble to me. For I have opened my mouth to the LORD, and I cannot take back my vow.” 36 And she said to him, “My father, you have opened your mouth to the LORD; do to me according to what has gone out of your mouth, now that the LORD has avenged you on your enemies, on the Ammonites.” 37 So she said to her father, “Let this thing be done for me: leave me alone two months, that I may go up and down on the mountains and weep for my virginity, I and my companions.” 38 So he said, “Go.” Then he sent her away for two months, and she departed, she and her companions, and wept for her virginity on the mountains. 39 And at the end of two months, she returned to her father, who did with her according to his vow that he had made. She had never known a man, and it became a custom in Israel 40 that the daughters of Israel went year by year to lament the daughter of Jephthah the Gileadite four days in the year. Footnotes  11:31 Or whoever  11:31 Or him (ESV) Chronicles and Prophets: Jeremiah 26 Jeremiah 26 (Listen) Jeremiah Threatened with Death 26 In the beginning of the reign of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah, this word came from the LORD: 2 “Thus says the LORD: Stand in the court of the LORD's house, and speak to all the cities of Judah that come to worship in the house of the LORD all the words that I command you to speak to them; do not hold back a word. 3 It may be they will listen, and every one turn from his evil way, that I may relent of the disaster that I intend to do to them because of their evil deeds. 4 You shall say to them, ‘Thus says the LORD: If you will not listen to me, to walk in my law that I have set before you, 5 and to listen to the words of my servants the prophets whom I send to you urgently, though you have not listened, 6 then I will make this house like Shiloh, and I will make this city a curse for all the nations of the earth.'” 7 The priests and the prophets and all the people heard Jeremiah speaking these words in the house of the LORD. 8 And when Jeremiah had finished speaking all that the LORD had commanded him to speak to all the people, then the priests and the prophets and all the people laid hold of him, saying, “You shall die! 9 Why have you prophesied in the name of the LORD, saying, ‘This house shall be like Shiloh, and this city shall be desolate, without inhabitant'?” And all the people gathered around Jeremiah in the house of the LORD. 10 When the officials of Judah heard these things, they came up from the king's house to the house of the LORD and took their seat in the entry of the New Gate of the house of the LORD. 11 Then the priests and the prophets said to the officials and to all the people, “This man deserves the sentence of death, because he has prophesied against this city, as you have heard with your own ears.” 12 Then Jeremiah spoke to all the officials and all the people, saying, “The LORD sent me to prophesy against this house and this city all the words you have heard. 13 Now therefore mend your ways and your deeds, and obey the voice of the LORD your God, and the LORD will relent of the disaster that he has pronounced against you. 14 But as for me, behold, I am in your hands. Do with me as seems good and right to you. 15 Only know for certain that if you put me to death, you will bring innocent blood upon yourselves and upon this city and its inhabitants, for in truth the LORD sent me to you to speak all these words in your ears.” Jeremiah Spared from Death 16 Then the officials and all the people said to the priests and the prophets, “This man does not deserve the sentence of death, for he has spoken to us in the name of the LORD our God.” 17 And certain of the elders of the land arose and spoke to all the assembled people, saying, 18 “Micah of Moresheth prophesied in the days of Hezekiah king of Judah, and said to all the people of Judah: ‘Thus says the LORD of hosts, “‘Zion shall be plowed as a field; Jerusalem shall become a heap of ruins, and the mountain of the house a wooded height.' 19 Did Hezekiah king of Judah and all Judah put him to death? Did he not fear the LORD and entreat the favor of the LORD, and did not the LORD relent of the disaster that he had pronounced against them? But we are about to bring great disaster upon ourselves.” 20 There was another man who prophesied in the name of the LORD, Uriah the son of Shemaiah from Kiriath-jearim. He prophesied against this city and against this land in words like those of Jeremiah. 21 And when King Jehoiakim, with all his warriors and all the officials, heard his words, the king sought to put him to death. But when Uriah heard of it, he was afraid and fled and escaped to Egypt. 22 Then King Jehoiakim sent to Egypt certain men, Elnathan the son of Achbor and others with him, 23 and they took Uriah from Egypt and brought him to King Jehoiakim, who struck him down with the sword and dumped his dead body into the burial place of the common people. 24 But the hand of Ahikam the son of Shaphan was with Jeremiah so that he was not given over to the people to be put to death. (ESV) Gospels and Epistles: Hebrews 10:19–39 Hebrews 10:19–39 (Listen) The Full Assurance of Faith 19 Therefore, brothers,1 since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, 20 by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. 26 For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. 28 Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses. 29 How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has trampled underfoot the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace? 30 For we know him who said, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay.” And again, “The Lord will judge his people.” 31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. 32 But recall the former days when, after you were enlightened, you endured a hard struggle with sufferings, 33 sometimes being publicly exposed to reproach and affliction, and sometimes being partners with those so treated. 34 For you had compassion on those in prison, and you joyfully accepted the plundering of your property, since you knew that you yourselves had a better possession and an abiding one. 35 Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. 36 For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised. 37 For, “Yet a little while, and the coming one will come and will not delay;38 but my righteous one shall live by faith, and if he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in him.” 39 But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls. Footnotes  10:19 Or brothers and sisters (ESV)
Numbers 22 NLT read aloud by Simon MacFarlane. 1 Then the people of Israel traveled to the plains of Moab and camped east of the Jordan River, across from Jericho. 2 Balak son of Zippor, the Moabite king, had seen everything the Israelites did to the Amorites. 3 And when the people of Moab saw how many Israelites there were, they were terrified. 4 The king of Moab said to the elders of Midian, “This mob will devour everything in sight, like an ox devours grass in the field!” So Balak, king of Moab, 5 sent messengers to call Balaam son of Beor, who was living in his native land of Pethor near the Euphrates River. His message said: “Look, a vast horde of people has arrived from Egypt. They cover the face of the earth and are threatening me. 6 Please come and curse these people for me because they are too powerful for me. Then perhaps I will be able to conquer them and drive them from the land. I know that blessings fall on any people you bless, and curses fall on people you curse.” 7 Balak's messengers, who were elders of Moab and Midian, set out with money to pay Balaam to place a curse upon Israel. They went to Balaam and delivered Balak's message to him. 8 “Stay here overnight,” Balaam said. “In the morning I will tell you whatever the Lord directs me to say.” So the officials from Moab stayed there with Balaam. 9 That night God came to Balaam and asked him, “Who are these men visiting you?” 10 Balaam said to God, “Balak son of Zippor, king of Moab, has sent me this message: 11 ‘Look, a vast horde of people has arrived from Egypt, and they cover the face of the earth. Come and curse these people for me. Then perhaps I will be able to stand up to them and drive them from the land.'” 12 But God told Balaam, “Do not go with them. You are not to curse these people, for they have been blessed!” 13 The next morning Balaam got up and told Balak's officials, “Go on home! The Lord will not let me go with you.” 14 So the Moabite officials returned to King Balak and reported, “Balaam refused to come with us.” 15 Then Balak tried again. This time he sent a larger number of even more distinguished officials than those he had sent the first time. 16 They went to Balaam and delivered this message to him: “This is what Balak son of Zippor says: Please don't let anything stop you from coming to help me. 17 I will pay you very well and do whatever you tell me. Just come and curse these people for me!” 18 But Balaam responded to Balak's messengers, “Even if Balak were to give me his palace filled with silver and gold, I would be powerless to do anything against the will of the Lord my God. 19 But stay here one more night, and I will see if the Lord has anything else to say to me.” 20 That night God came to Balaam and told him, “Since these men have come for you, get up and go with them. But do only what I tell you to do.” 21 So the next morning Balaam got up, saddled his donkey, and started off with the Moabite officials. 22 But God was angry that Balaam was going, so he sent the angel of the Lord to stand in the road to block his way. As Balaam and two servants were riding along, 23 Balaam's donkey saw the angel of the Lord standing in the road with a drawn sword in his hand. The donkey bolted off the road into a field, but Balaam beat it and turned it back onto the road. [...]
With family: Judges 11:12–40; Acts 15 Judges 11:12–40 (Listen) 12 Then Jephthah sent messengers to the king of the Ammonites and said, “What do you have against me, that you have come to me to fight against my land?” 13 And the king of the Ammonites answered the messengers of Jephthah, “Because Israel on coming up from Egypt took away my land, from the Arnon to the Jabbok and to the Jordan; now therefore restore it peaceably.” 14 Jephthah again sent messengers to the king of the Ammonites 15 and said to him, “Thus says Jephthah: Israel did not take away the land of Moab or the land of the Ammonites, 16 but when they came up from Egypt, Israel went through the wilderness to the Red Sea and came to Kadesh. 17 Israel then sent messengers to the king of Edom, saying, ‘Please let us pass through your land,' but the king of Edom would not listen. And they sent also to the king of Moab, but he would not consent. So Israel remained at Kadesh. 18 “Then they journeyed through the wilderness and went around the land of Edom and the land of Moab and arrived on the east side of the land of Moab and camped on the other side of the Arnon. But they did not enter the territory of Moab, for the Arnon was the boundary of Moab. 19 Israel then sent messengers to Sihon king of the Amorites, king of Heshbon, and Israel said to him, ‘Please let us pass through your land to our country,' 20 but Sihon did not trust Israel to pass through his territory, so Sihon gathered all his people together and encamped at Jahaz and fought with Israel. 21 And the LORD, the God of Israel, gave Sihon and all his people into the hand of Israel, and they defeated them. So Israel took possession of all the land of the Amorites, who inhabited that country. 22 And they took possession of all the territory of the Amorites from the Arnon to the Jabbok and from the wilderness to the Jordan. 23 So then the LORD, the God of Israel, dispossessed the Amorites from before his people Israel; and are you to take possession of them? 24 Will you not possess what Chemosh your god gives you to possess? And all that the LORD our God has dispossessed before us, we will possess. 25 Now are you any better than Balak the son of Zippor, king of Moab? Did he ever contend against Israel, or did he ever go to war with them? 26 While Israel lived in Heshbon and its villages, and in Aroer and its villages, and in all the cities that are on the banks of the Arnon, 300 years, why did you not deliver them within that time? 27 I therefore have not sinned against you, and you do me wrong by making war on me. The LORD, the Judge, decide this day between the people of Israel and the people of Ammon.” 28 But the king of the Ammonites did not listen to the words of Jephthah that he sent to him. Jephthah's Tragic Vow 29 Then the Spirit of the LORD was upon Jephthah, and he passed through Gilead and Manasseh and passed on to Mizpah of Gilead, and from Mizpah of Gilead he passed on to the Ammonites. 30 And Jephthah made a vow to the LORD and said, “If you will give the Ammonites into my hand, 31 then whatever1 comes out from the doors of my house to meet me when I return in peace from the Ammonites shall be the LORD's, and I will offer it2 up for a burnt offering.” 32 So Jephthah crossed over to the Ammonites to fight against them, and the LORD gave them into his hand. 33 And he struck them from Aroer to the neighborhood of Minnith, twenty cities, and as far as Abel-keramim, with a great blow. So the Ammonites were subdued before the people of Israel. 34 Then Jephthah came to his home at Mizpah. And behold, his daughter came out to meet him with tambourines and with dances. She was his only child; besides her he had neither son nor daughter. 35 And as soon as he saw her, he tore his clothes and said, “Alas, my daughter! You have brought me very low, and you have become the cause of great trouble to me. For I have opened my mouth to the LORD, and I cannot take back my vow.” 36 And she said to him, “My father, you have opened your mouth to the LORD; do to me according to what has gone out of your mouth, now that the LORD has avenged you on your enemies, on the Ammonites.” 37 So she said to her father, “Let this thing be done for me: leave me alone two months, that I may go up and down on the mountains and weep for my virginity, I and my companions.” 38 So he said, “Go.” Then he sent her away for two months, and she departed, she and her companions, and wept for her virginity on the mountains. 39 And at the end of two months, she returned to her father, who did with her according to his vow that he had made. She had never known a man, and it became a custom in Israel 40 that the daughters of Israel went year by year to lament the daughter of Jephthah the Gileadite four days in the year. Footnotes  11:31 Or whoever  11:31 Or him (ESV) Acts 15 (Listen) The Jerusalem Council 15 But some men came down from Judea and were teaching the brothers, “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.” 2 And after Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and debate with them, Paul and Barnabas and some of the others were appointed to go up to Jerusalem to the apostles and the elders about this question. 3 So, being sent on their way by the church, they passed through both Phoenicia and Samaria, describing in detail the conversion of the Gentiles, and brought great joy to all the brothers.1 4 When they came to Jerusalem, they were welcomed by the church and the apostles and the elders, and they declared all that God had done with them. 5 But some believers who belonged to the party of the Pharisees rose up and said, “It is necessary to circumcise them and to order them to keep the law of Moses.” 6 The apostles and the elders were gathered together to consider this matter. 7 And after there had been much debate, Peter stood up and said to them, “Brothers, you know that in the early days God made a choice among you, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe. 8 And God, who knows the heart, bore witness to them, by giving them the Holy Spirit just as he did to us, 9 and he made no distinction between us and them, having cleansed their hearts by faith. 10 Now, therefore, why are you putting God to the test by placing a yoke on the neck of the disciples that neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear? 11 But we believe that we will be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they will.” 12 And all the assembly fell silent, and they listened to Barnabas and Paul as they related what signs and wonders God had done through them among the Gentiles. 13 After they finished speaking, James replied, “Brothers, listen to me. 14 Simeon has related how God first visited the Gentiles, to take from them a people for his name. 15 And with this the words of the prophets agree, just as it is written, 16 “‘After this I will return, and I will rebuild the tent of David that has fallen; I will rebuild its ruins, and I will restore it,17 that the remnant2 of mankind may seek the Lord, and all the Gentiles who are called by my name, says the Lord, who makes these things 18 known from of old.' 19 Therefore my judgment is that we should not trouble those of the Gentiles who turn to God, 20 but should write to them to abstain from the things polluted by idols, and from sexual immorality, and from what has been strangled, and from blood. 21 For from ancient generations Moses has had in every city those who proclaim him, for he is read every Sabbath in the synagogues.” The Council's Letter to Gentile Believers 22 Then it seemed good to the apostles and the elders, with the whole church, to choose men from among them and send them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas. They sent Judas called Barsabbas, and Silas, leading men among the brothers, 23 with the following letter: “The brothers, both the apostles and the elders, to the brothers3 who are of the Gentiles in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia, greetings. 24 Since we have heard that some persons have gone out from us and troubled you4 with words, unsettling your minds, although we gave them no instructions, 25 it has seemed good to us, having come to one accord, to choose men and send them to you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, 26 men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. 27 We have therefore sent Judas and Silas, who themselves will tell you the same things by word of mouth. 28 For it has seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay on you no greater burden than these requirements: 29 that you abstain from what has been sacrificed to idols, and from blood, and from what has been strangled, and from sexual immorality. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well. Farewell.” 30 So when they were sent off, they went down to Antioch, and having gathered the congregation together, they delivered the letter. 31 And when they had read it, they rejoiced because of its encouragement. 32 And Judas and Silas, who were themselves prophets, encouraged and strengthened the brothers with many words. 33 And after they had spent some time, they were sent off in peace by the brothers to those who had sent them.5 35 But Paul and Barnabas remained in Antioch, teaching and preaching the word of the Lord, with many others also. Paul and Barnabas Separate 36 And after some days Paul said to Barnabas, “Let us return and visit the brothers in every city where we proclaimed the word of the Lord, and see how they are.” 37 Now Barnabas wanted to take with them John called Mark. 38 But Paul thought best not to take with them one who had withdrawn from them in Pamphylia and had not gone with them to the work. 39 And there arose a sharp disagreement, so that they separated from each other. Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed away to Cyprus, 40 but Paul chose Silas and departed, having been commended by the brothers to the grace of the Lord. 41 And he went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches. Footnotes  15:3 Or brothers and sisters; also verse 22  15:17 Or rest  15:23 Or brothers and sisters; also verses 32, 33, 36  15:24 Some manuscripts some persons from us have troubled you  15:33 Some manuscripts insert verse 34: But it seemed good to Silas to remain there (ESV) In private: Jeremiah 24; Mark 10 Jeremiah 24 (Listen) The Good Figs and the Bad Figs 24 After Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon had taken into exile from Jerusalem Jeconiah the son of Jehoiakim, king of Judah, together with the officials of Judah, the craftsmen, and the metal workers, and had brought them to Babylon, the LORD showed me this vision: behold, two baskets of figs placed before the temple of the LORD. 2 One basket had very good figs, like first-ripe figs, but the other basket had very bad figs, so bad that they could not be eaten. 3 And the LORD said to me, “What do you see, Jeremiah?” I said, “Figs, the good figs very good, and the bad figs very bad, so bad that they cannot be eaten.” 4 Then the word of the LORD came to me: 5 “Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel: Like these good figs, so I will regard as good the exiles from Judah, whom I have sent away from this place to the land of the Chaldeans. 6 I will set my eyes on them for good, and I will bring them back to this land. I will build them up, and not tear them down; I will plant them, and not pluck them up. 7 I will give them a heart to know that I am the LORD, and they shall be my people and I will be their God, for they shall return to me with their whole heart. 8 “But thus says the LORD: Like the bad figs that are so bad they cannot be eaten, so will I treat Zedekiah the king of Judah, his officials, the remnant of Jerusalem who remain in this land, and those who dwell in the land of Egypt. 9 I will make them a horror1 to all the kingdoms of the earth, to be a reproach, a byword, a taunt, and a curse in all the places where I shall drive them. 10 And I will send sword, famine, and pestilence upon them, until they shall be utterly destroyed from the land that I gave to them and their fathers.” Footnotes  24:9 Compare Septuagint; Hebrew horror for evil (ESV) Mark 10 (Listen) Teaching About Divorce 10 And he left there and went to the region of Judea and beyond the Jordan, and crowds gathered to him again. And again, as was his custom, he taught them. 2 And Pharisees came up and in order to test him asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?” 3 He answered them, “What did Moses command you?” 4 They said, “Moses allowed a man to write a certificate of divorce and to send her away.” 5 And Jesus said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart he wrote you this commandment. 6 But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.' 7 ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife,1 8 and the two shall become one flesh.' So they are no longer two but one flesh. 9 What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” 10 And in the house the disciples asked him again about this matter. 11 And he said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her, 12 and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.” Let the Children Come to Me 13 And they were bringing children to him that he might touch them, and the disciples rebuked them. 14 But when Jesus saw it, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. 15 Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” 16 And he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands on them. The Rich Young Man 17 And as he was setting out on his journey, a man ran up and knelt before him and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 18 And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. 19 You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.'” 20 And he said to him, “Teacher, all these I have kept from my youth.” 21 And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” 22 Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. 23 And Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How difficult it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” 24 And the disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said to them again, “Children, how difficult it is2 to enter the kingdom of God! 25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” 26 And they were exceedingly astonished, and said to him,3 “Then who can be saved?” 27 Jesus looked at them and said, “With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God.” 28 Peter began to say to him, “See, we have left everything and followed you.” 29 Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, 30 who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life. 31 But many who are first will be last, and the last first.” Jesus Foretells His Death a Third Time 32 And they were on the road, going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was walking ahead of them. And they were amazed, and those who followed were afraid. And taking the twelve again, he began to tell them what was to happen to him, 33 saying, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death and deliver him over to the Gentiles. 34 And they will mock him and spit on him, and flog him and kill him. And after three days he will rise.” The Request of James and John 35 And James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came up to him and said to him, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.” 36 And he said to them, “What do you want me to do for you?” 37 And they said to him, “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.” 38 Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?” 39 And they said to him, “We are able.” And Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink you will drink, and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized, 40 but to sit at my right hand or at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.” 41 And when the ten heard it, they began to be indignant at James and John. 42 And Jesus called them to him and said to them, “You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. 43 But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant,4 44 and whoever would be first among you must be slave5 of all. 45 For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Jesus Heals Blind Bartimaeus 46 And they came to Jericho. And as he was leaving Jericho with his disciples and a great crowd, Bartimaeus, a blind beggar, the son of Timaeus, was sitting by the roadside. 47 And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” 48 And many rebuked him, telling him to be silent. But he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” 49 And Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.” And they called the blind man, saying to him, “Take heart. Get up; he is calling you.” 50 And throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus. 51 And Jesus said to him, “What do you want me to do for you?” And the blind man said to him, “Rabbi, let me recover my sight.” 52 And Jesus said to him, “Go your way; your faith has made you well.” And immediately he recovered his sight and followed him on the way. Footnotes  10:7 Some manuscripts omit and hold fast to his wife  10:24 Some manuscripts add for those who trust in riches  10:26 Some manuscripts to one another  10:43 Greek diakonos  10:44 Or bondservant, or servant (for the contextual rendering of the Greek word doulos, see Preface) (ESV)
Parashat Pinhas begins with G-d's announcement of the reward that He would be giving Pinhas for his heroic act of killing two public sinners. As we read in the final verses of Parashat Balak, the nations of Moab and Midyan schemed to lure Beneh Yisrael to sins of immorality and idolatry by sending their women to seduce them. G-d punished Beneh Yisrael by bringing a deadly plague that killed 24,000 people. The plague ended only when Pinhas arose and killed Zimri – the leader of the tribe of Shimon – and Kozbi – a princess of Midyan – as they committed a public sinful act. G-d then informed Moshe that if not for Pinhas' zealotry, He would have annihilated all of Beneh Yisrael, and He was therefore granting Pinhas great reward. Rashi explains that this announcement was needed because the people harshly condemned Pinhas for slaying a prominent member of the nation. They looked down upon him for committing such an act of zealotry. G-d therefore affirmed that Pinhas acted correctly under these extraordinary circumstances, and would be receiving reward. Several explanations have been given for why the people initially condemned Pinhas for what he did. One approach stems from the comment of Targum Yonatan Ben Uziel (25:15) that Kozbi – the woman killed by Pinhas – was the daughter of Balak, king of Moab, who instigated this scheme. Our Sages teach us that although Balak was a bitter enemy of Beneh Yisrael, they were not to wage war against him because of his progeny – his great-granddaughter was none other than Rut, the righteous convert who joined Beneh Yisrael. Rut was the great-grandmother of King David, and was thus the matriarch of the Davidic royal dynasty, and the ancestor of Mashiah. Therefore, it was not a simple matter to kill Kozbi, a daughter of Balak. What if she was the daughter from whom Rut would descend? Killing her would mean preventing Rut from coming into the world – and thus preventing King David and Mashiah from being born! Indeed, many years earlier, back in Egypt, before Moshe killed the Egyptian taskmaster who was beating a slave, "Va'yar Ki En Ish" (Shemot 2:12) – Moshe looked around and saw "that there was no man," which Rashi explains to mean that Moshe saw that no righteous people would descend from this evil taskmaster. By the same token, before killing Kozbi, it was necessary to ensure that she was not destined to be the ancestor of Mashiah. This is why the Torah says that as Zimri and Kozbi committed their act, "Va'yar Pinhas" (25:7) – "Pinhas saw." Pinhas looked and saw that no righteous people could possibly descend from Kozbi. The Gemara in Masechet Sanhedrin (82a) teaches that if a man, Heaven forbid, has a relationship with a non-Jewish woman, then no Torah scholars will descend from him, and if he is a Kohen, he will have no descendants worthy of serving in the Bet Ha'mikdash. This is what Pinhas "saw" – he understood that Kozbi was not destined to be the ancestor of Mashiah, because righteous people could not be produced from a person guilty of this kind of act. Beneh Yisrael, however, condemned Pinhas, accusing him of essentially "killing" Mashiah. They charged that Pinhas acted recklessly, thereby destroying the nation's future. G-d therefore affirmed that Pinhas acted correctly, because Mashiah was not destined to descend from Kozbi. Moreover, G-d announced that Pinhas would be rewarded with "Beriti Shalom" – "My covenant of peace" (25:12). Targum Yonatan explains that it was here that G-d declared that Pinhas – who was the prophet Eliyahu – would live forever. As we know, Eliyahu was taken to the heavens alive, and will return to us to herald the imminent arrival of Mashiah. In response to the people's accusations, G-d declared that Pinhas will in the future be the one to announce the nation's redemption, that Mashiah would be coming to redeem Am Yisrael. Whereas the people charged that Pinhas in effect killed Mashiah – G-d proclaimed that to the contrary, Pinhas himself will arrive to inform the Jewish Nation that the time has come for Mashiah to come and bring us from exile.
In the beginning of this week's parasha , Pinchas, we read about the great rewards Pinchas received for doing the will of Hashem under very difficult circumstances. The Midrash at the end of parashat Balak asks how could it be that Moshe Rabbenu forgot the halacha of what was supposed to be done with Zimri and Kozbi? Thr Midrash answered, it was מן השמים, in order to give Pinchas the ability to get what Hashem wanted to give him. Although when we read the pesukim it seems like everything happened in the natural course of events, in actuality, it was Hashem pulling the strings. Now was Pinchas's time and if, in order for that to happen, the greatest Rabbi in history needed to forget a halacha , then that's what was going to happen. But it goes even further. Every person's tests and opportunities for growth have already been mapped out for them way before they were even born. Hashem knows what each person needs to fulfill his mission and He sets each person up with the tests that they need to accomplish that mission. The Vilna Gaon writes, Bilaam was being tested by Hashem to see if he would go to curse the Jews against His will. Hashem sent him many obstacles to give him help with that test and he failed each time. That story, as well, seemed very natural. The nation of Moav became afraid of the Jews after they conquered Sichon and Og, and so they hired someone who seemed capable of cursing them to remove the threat. Chazal tell us, one of the things Hashem created on the sixth day of Creation during bein hashemashot was the פי האתון – the mouth of the donkey who tried to dissuade Bilaam from continuing on. This means, already from the beginning of time, Hashem was preparing the tests that Bilaam needed to go through. Korach was tested when he didn't receive the position he wanted. His job was to say, “It's מן השמים ,” and accept it. But instead, he made a revolt against Moshe and Aharon. There as well, everything seemed very natural, but Chazal tell us, the spot of the earth which swallowed up the eida of Korach was created already on bein hashemashot during the six days of Creation. At that time, when Hashem was creating the world, He was already preparing the necessary components for the test he was going to give Korach thousands of years later. Avraham Avinu's tenth test of Akedat Yitzchak , which we are still benefiting from today, did not just happen at that time. That ram that he slaughtered instead of Yitzchak was created during the six days of Creation. Already from then, Hashem was planning out every single nisayon that Avraham would need to go through. And the same is true of every single individual. Sometimes we find ourselves in situations we don't want to be in and we start trying to figure out how we got there. Our job is not to backtrack and see how we could have avoided it. Our job is to do what Hashem wants us to do in that very situation. Every circumstance we find ourselves in had been carefully planned out for us to achieve our purpose here. What may seem to be a bunch of natural happenings is nothing other than the yad Hashem. In life, we need to pass each test as it comes. We don't know how much is riding on each one of them. The next test could be what we need that will make us zocheh to the beracha that we have been seeking. Every one is necessary for us to pass and b'ezrat Hashem, if we do, then we will be fulfilling the purpose of our creation. Shabbat Shalom.
Rabbis Eliot Malomet, Barry Chesler and Jeremy Kalmanofsky present Parsha Talk. Parashat Pinchas [Numbers 25:10-30:1] is the parashah that is most read from during the year, since the maftir reading for Rosh Chodesh and the holidays comes from chapters 28-29. But there is a lot more here, including the end of the story which began at the end of Balak last week. There, the Israelites go astray at Baal Peor and Pinchas takes matters into his own hands by killing two people caught in fragrante delicto. Parashat Balak ends with the notice of 24,000 Israelites dying in the plague. This week the focus is on Pinchas and God's response to his deed. We talked about this, but also about Moshe, commanded here to go up the mountain for a look at the Promised Land that he will not enter, and what that might mean to him. And, there is the appointment of Joshua as his successor. Still, there is much more we might have discussed. So listen now, and come back next year! Shabbat Shalom!!
Insights and comments could be sent to Jonathan@theparashapodcast.com They will be addressed during our daily classes to enhance the discussion. For Parasha classes, please visit: TheParashaPodcast.com Spotify Link: https://open.spotify.com/show/45srXeZZgZKHAomOmpIkmh?si=Ao0Jr94xQOSpKxd8Rg7Zyw Apple Podcasts Link: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/the-parasha-podcast/id1525436805 For Navi Classes, please visit: Spotify Link: https://open.spotify.com/show/48iHU4mP1cvgZOGFrC5Jys?si=o_r9qD_XT_yovHvuC9fJIA Apple Podcasts: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/the-navi-podcast/id1549133051 For Tehillim Classes, please visit: Spotify Link: https://open.spotify.com/show/79ooU0LqW7FF8Zh5YfJAkp?si=fzjnBsMPRjS27AtlepZxRQ&dl_branch=1 Apple Podcasts Link: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/the-tehillim-podcast/id1588773372 #Parsha #Navi #Torah #Bible #Wisdom #Psalms #Song #Tehillim
Balaam's prophecy marks both the beginning and the end of the series of quotations in Matthew Chapter 2 where Numbers 24.17 was fresh in the hearer's mind during the synagogue reading cycle which happened to be Torah portion Balak. Download the 2021-2022 Eighth Edition Torah To The Tribes Parashah
Perhaps ironically, the parsha named 'Balak' in the Torah (Numbers 22:2-25:9) -- because that name of the king of Moab appears right up front in the text -- is really more about Bilaam (aka 'Balaam' in some English translations) -- who would be the ancient equivalent of the most well-known 'televangelist' of his times. (And, perhaps the similarities don't stop there...) Join Mark Call of Shabbat Shalom Mesa fellowship for a two-part look at at the parsha which stands out because of how dramatically it departs from most of the rest of the narrative we've come to expect: neither Moshe, or Aaron, or any of the sons of Israel appear directly in the story at all. But that's just the beginning. The Erev Shabbat reading and outline of the parsha https://hebrewnationonline.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/SSM-7-15-22-Balak-teaching-podcast-xx.mp3 During the Sabbath teaching, Mark suggests that this is a parsha which might appear to be 'out-of-place,' but certainly could offer insight into a LOT of different questions. Perhaps the one that most of the midrash tends to emphasize is Why? Why this people? But there are other questions raised here, too? Does Bilaam - like Pharoah, perhaps - really have "free choice" in this situation? This story not only resonates on SO many levels with things that are happening right now, but also with our whole understanding of free will, coercion, deception, and who is truly able to make choices that impact our lives. Choose LIFE! But when? And just when does that choice, or action based on it, become irreversible - fatal - and he "knew or SHOULD have known?" "Balak: Why this story? - or - Difficult Choices" https://hebrewnationonline.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/WT-CooH-7-16-22-Bilaam-Difficult-Choices-podcast-xxx.mp3 The combined two-part podcast is here:
We have a mitzvah every single day to remember that Balak and Bilaam tried to wipe out our ancestors in the desert. The mitzvah is to remember that Hashem did not get angry all that time, so that the curse of Bilaam would not be able to take effect. The Shelah HaKadosh writes, this miracle was even greater than Yehoshua stopping the sun for 36 hours, which was a change affecting the entire system that Hashem put into creation. The reason is, because there it was a created being causing a change to another creation, but here, the miracle affected the way Hashem Himself acts. It was not just a change in the lower worlds; it was a change in the highest Upper Worlds. And it was all because of Hashem's love for us. We have to remember on a daily basis that Hashem acts the same way for every single individual. At that time, the Jewish People did not know what kind of danger they were in, so they couldn't even pray to protect themselves. Hashem was showing us that although when we are able to make a hishtadlut to be saved from danger, we have to do it, but when we are unable to, because we don't know about that danger, we are exempt. And Hashem will protect us without us having to do anything. Hashem is always there for us, and He gave us numerous ways to access His help when we need it. When Miriam was stricken with leprosy, the pasuk says Moshe Rabbenu cried out to Hashem in tefila saying, קל נא רפא נא לה. Why did Moshe use the word נא, which means please, two times? The Lev Simcha explained based on what the Chatam Sofer said in parashat V'etchanan when Moshe was praying to be allowed to enter Eretz Yisrael. There he said, אעברה נא ואראה, please let me go in and see the Land. And Hashem told him, אל תוסיף דבר אלי עוד בדבר הזה. The Chatam Sofer explains that to mean Hashem said, "Don't use the word נא again, because if you do, I will have to fulfill your request." What is so special about using the word נא twice? The Lev Simcha explains, every time a Jew is in pain and needs one of his requests to be fulfilled, kavayachol, the Shechina is also in pain, like it says בכל צרתם לו צר. So when a person prays, he should not only be thinking about his own suffering, but rather he should also be thinking about the suffering the Shechina is going through as well. When Chanah was praying for a baby, the pasuk says, ותתפלל חנה על ה'. And the mefarshim ask, it should have said אל Hashem. The Nefesh HaChaim explained it means she was praying on behalf of Hashem so that He wouldn't be in pain because of her pain. And this is what it means to say the word נא twice. The first one is to ask Hashem to take Himself out of pain, and the second one is for the person praying to also be relieved of his pain. When we first pray on behalf of Hashem, it blocks out all of the מקטרגים, the negative angels, from being able to say anything negative about our tefila. And that paves the way for us to be answered for what we want. Of course, this is only assuming the person really cares about the צער of the Shechina and is not just saying it as a segula to get his prayers answered. But what a beautiful avodah this would be, honestly trying to think about Hashem being in pain because we are in pain. And then, wanting Him to be relieved from that pain. Hashem is always there for us. If we remember this every single day, we even get a mitzvah for it. Shabbat Shalom.
Our nation has no shortage of enemies. This is not new. Even in antiquity, our nation was always a target. Laban, Jacob's father-in-law, try to smothered the Jewish Nation in its infancy. I'm this week's Parsha, to fearsome, shadowy figures try to do the same. Balak, king of Moab, commissions Bilaam, master sorcerer and prophet, […]
Our nation has no shortage of enemies. This is not new. Even in antiquity, our nation was always a target. Laban, Jacob's father-in-law, try to smothered the Jewish Nation in its infancy. I'm this week's Parsha, to fearsome, shadowy figures try to do the same. Balak, king of Moab, commissions Bilaam, master sorcerer and prophet, […]
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Parshas Balak, intention matters This week's Parsha Perspective is in honor of the Refuah Shlema of HaRav Amitai Ben Shoshanna, Leah Mintche Bas Gittel and Shaul Ben Berta. This week's Parsha Perspective is in loving memory of Edward Ben Efraim, Shlomo Ben Edward, and Yirachmiel Daniel Ben Gedalia. May their souls be uplifted and their memories a blessing. This week's Parsha Perspective is in the merit of the holy Ohr Hachaim, Rav Chaim Ibn Attar, one of the commentaries I use frequently. Because his Yahrzeit (anniversary of his passing) is on the 15th of Tammuz, the release date of this episode. Click here to listen, watch and connect! Parshaperspective.com Our Parsha tells us the story of Balak and Balaam. Balak, the king of Moav, worried about his upcoming battle with the Jewish people. So Balak recruited Balaam, the famous non-Jewish prophet, to curse the Jewish people and hopefully defeat the Jewish nation in battle. We find out Balaam's mistake. We learn the truth about our intentions.