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Parashat BALAK
Israel's spirituality harmoniously relates surprisingly to the world's nation's spirituality

The portion of Balak speaks about the prophecy of a non-Israelite, the prophet Balaam. Balaam is a unique personality in his own right. The sages of Israel saw in Balaam a person whose worth equaled the power of Moses, and some even said, perhaps in exaggeration, that he was more significant than Moses. In other words, what Moses is to the people of Israel, Balaam is to the world's nations. This can be explained as follows: Moses represents the channel through which the Israelites receive the Torah, and Balaam represents the world's nations in their relationship with the divine.

The portion discusses some conflict, contradiction, or attempt by Balaam to harm the Israelites. However, in the end, this attempt, orchestrated by the king of Moab, King Balak, who feared the appearance of the Israelites in history, results in something highly positive. All the curses that this great man, Balaam, intended to cast upon the Israelites become blessings.

This implies that there is no rivalry between the two forms of spirituality. There is complementarity between the spirituality of the people of Israel and the spirituality of the world's nations. Balaam says, "May my soul die the death of the upright and let my end be like his. (Numbers 22:10)" He yearns for a share in the future of the Israelites. He also wants to be a partner in this matter.

These words remind us of the figure of one of the great philosophers of the 19th century, the German Friedrich Nietzsche, who was, on the one hand, jealous. He indeed recognized the value of the Jewish people, which made him envious. But at the same time, he had a great love for these people because he wrote that the Christian world, like the entire moral world of Europe, was on the verge of collapse. However, he says something exciting: "And the God of Israel, the ancient of days, stands ready to return to His people, and in His eternal glory, we will all rejoice together." [see the note].

Here we find, in Nietzsche as in Balaam, that even someone who, out of envy, wants to curse the Jewish people ultimately recognizes that the value of repairing the world passes through the Jewish nation.

Both Nietzsche and Balaam would be delighted if they could see what is happening in our time. Many descendants of Noah seek to accept the Torah of Israel, to be influenced by the universal message of Judaism, which passes through the people of Israel and is intended for the entire world. This is, in fact, the great lesson that the Torah gives us: when someone imparts the Torah to Israel, simultaneously, some come from the world's nations to hear this special Torah and to deliver it to all of humanity.

Note:

Friedrich Nietzsche wrote this quote in his book "Thus Spoke Zarathustra" (Also sprach Zarathustra). The quote is found in Part 4, Chapter 17, titled "Von der Erlösung" (On Redemption): "Und der Gott Israels, der Uralt, steht bereit, wieder zu seinem Volke zu kommen, und in seinem ewigen Glück werden wir alle miteinander uns freuen."

Translation in English: "And the God of Israel, the ancient of days, stands ready to return to His people, and in His eternal glory, we will all rejoice together."

 

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