July 18, 2019 / 15 Tammuz • Parshat Balak
Issue 570
Dedicated in loving memory of Mrs. Miriam Friedman

Balaam arose in the morning and saddled his donkey.

Bemidbar 22:21


Balaam loathed G-d and His emissaries, the Jewish people, with a passion. By rising early to set out on his mission of evil, he hoped to "remind" G-d how quick the Jews had been to rebel against Him. But G-d informed Balaam that his quickness had been preempted by that of the patriarch Abraham. Abraham had risen early in the morning in order to lovingly and devotedly fulfill G-d's command to sacrifice his son Isaac. The merit of Abraham's love of G-d counterbalanced Balaam's hatred. Abraham's love had been inherited by the Jewish people; their rebellions in the desert had merely been temporary lapses in their inherent, undying devotion to G-d.

Similarly, whenever we find ourselves having to repair the damage we might have caused by having deliberately disregarded G-d's will, the surest way to make amends for such misdeeds is to bolster our love for Him. This love will in turn transform past misdeeds into the motivation for doing good deeds. Just as G-d transformed Balaam's curses into a blessing, we too can always transform "curses" into blessings.

From Daily Wisdom #2