Chukat-Balak 5769-2009

"The Ultimate Value of Human Life"

In the first of this week's double parashiot, a battle takes place. Described in only three verses, it is a battle between Israel and the Canaanite king of Arad. The commentators suggests that in the battle only a single maidservant is captured from Israel. Israel vows to defeat the enemy, and G-d delivers the enemy into their hands. This obscure battle teaches us about the great lengths that our enemies would go to deceive us and how precious human life is to the people of Israel, regardless of whether the person is Jewish or not.

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Balak 5765-2005

"Bilaam, Prophet to the Nations"

The Midrash says that G-d gave the gentile nations a prophet of the stature of Bilaam so that the nations would not be able to say, "If we had a prophet, we would be as righteous as Israel." Instead of leading his people to good, Bilaam led the people to evil and corruption. But is it truly Bilaam and others like him who fail, or is it the failure of the Jews to provide a proper role model?

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