Balak – Thoughts on the Perasha

A profound statement by our Sages says, “in the path that a person wishes to go, he is led“. We know, however, that a person can have many evil plans to implement. Would Heaven help a person in implementing their evil plan? Or, does this statement only applies when a person has a good deed to fulfill?

In Talmud Tractate Makkot 10b:

אמר רבה בר רב הונא אמר רב הונא ואמרי לה אמר רב הונא א”ר אלעזר מן התורה ומן הנביאים ומן הכתובים בדרך שאדם רוצה לילך בה מוליכין אותו

Apropos the path upon which God leads people, the Gemara cites a statement that Rabba bar Rav Huna says that Rav Huna says, and some say it was a statement that Rav Huna says that Rabbi Elazar says: From the Torah, from the Prophets, and from the Writings one learns that along the path a person wishes to proceed, one leads and assists him.

מן התורה דכתיב (במדבר כב:יב) לא תלך עמהם וכתיב (במדבר כב:כ) קום לך אתם

One learns this from the Torah, as it is written that initially God said to Bןlaam with regard to the contingent dispatched by Balak: “You shall not go with them” (Number 22:12). After Bilaam implored the G-d and indicated his desire to go with them, it is written: “Arise, go with them” (Number 22:20).

Sometimes a person chooses a certain way of life and goes with it. Even though he has realizes that not only can he continue, but even has special success and thinks that this is the proof that G-d allows him to continue on the same path. G-d gives a person signs all his life,
shows him all kinds of situations that will hopefully make the person change course, to see the truth. Sometimes, G-d brings people around the person to convince him otherwise. Sometimes it brings him difficulties to wake the person up, and think what he is doing. Where should he go? But a person immersed in a lust for riches, respect, power etc. does not see clearly. A person does not care about anything; he would do anything to reach his goal. And then Hashem gives him the opportunity to continue with his own, because that is the way he chose – and person has a choice, and the possibility of choosing good or bad.  This, however, is not because G-d agrees with him, but because the path a person wants to walk in, he is lead.

The Creator gives a person the possibility of always returning and doing the right thing. G-d’s patience is always extended to everyone.  G-d gave us the good and the bad. We just have to choose. When a person wants to go the wrong way, and sees that he is succeeding, he thinks that by succeeding, it means that it is a good way. A person thinks that G-d leads him and helps him; and does not understand, that it is only from the freedom of choice that G-d has endowed us with. G-d gives a person the opportunity to choose good or evil; not because He agrees with him.

And that’s what we learn from Bilaam – that even G-d did not want him to go. Only, since he wanted to go, G-d allowed him to go and said to him – go with them, because a person has the option of choosing the right path, or the wrong path.

The evil Bilaam did not care; he followed his lusts. He was blinded from the right path. He could not see what even his donkey was able to see.

If we keep our paths in the right direction, and try to follow the path of goodness, the path Torah and missvot, Hashem will show us and lead the way.

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