20 Tamuz 5779 / Tuesday, July 23, 2019 | Torah Reading: mattot
 
dot  Add to favorites   dot  Set as homepage  
 
   
    Create an account    |    Sign in
  
    My Account     Orders History     Help
 
 
  My Country:  
  United States   
 
   Language:  
  English   
 
   My Currency:  
  US Dollar   
 
   
Home Page Breslev Judaism Society Family Spirituality and Faith Torah Portion Holidays and Fast Days
   Parsha Beams     Chassidic Pearls     Parsha in a Nutshell     David’s Sling             
 
  More  
 
 
 
David's Harp  
 
HomeTorah PortionDavid's HarpAnatomy of a Curse
 
  Advanced Search
   Articles
 
   Search
 
            
 

Anatomy of a Curse    

Anatomy of a Curse



Parshat Balak: we might not fear physical threats, but we certainly must be concerned about a world that would deny us the right to express our Jewish souls.

 



Cursing a person is a vicious act. Cursing a nation reflects a sickness. I am writing these words as we are traveling through the villages of Poland. Less than seventy years ago Nazi Germany, with the direct help of the Poles, Ukrainians, Lithuanians and others, perpetrated the most hideous crimes ever committed against the Jewish people and mankind. And while these crimes took place, the rest of the “civilized” world stood by silently.
 
In all honesty, as residents of free and open society, it’s almost impossible for us to picture this sort of insane hatred. The discussion of the nature of Anti-Semitism is beyond the parameters of this article. What I would like to discuss is the nature of the curse that almost took place as recounted in this week’s Torah reading. What transpired and how might it have affected us had it taken effect?
 
To answer these questions we can turn to a famous Chassidic insight based on a comment written by Tosefot, a group of great Talmudic scholars in the Middle ages. These ideas can provide us with an important insight on the intent of Bilaam, the major character in our reading, when he attempted to curse the Jewish people.
 
This week we read how Balak, the King of Midian, was in a state of panic as the Jewish people travelled towards the land of Israel. Fearing for himself and his country, his plan was to hire the greatest spiritual non-Jewish figure of the time, Bilaam, to curse the Jewish people thereby curtailing their possibilities of victory. Bilaam jumped at the opportunity, hoping to cause maximum damage. In fact, the Talmud informs us that had Bilaam been successful he might have been able to wipe out the Jewish people, Heaven forbid. How could he have accomplished this terrible plan? According to the Talmud there is a moment every day when Hashem’s anger comes to full expression. Bilaam knew that moment and had he cursed us during that moment the damage would have been horrific.
 
The Talmud indicates that this moment was, in fact, just a fraction of a second. What the commentators called Tosefot wonder is what type of curse could have been perpetrated that would have been so devastating? To this they answer that Bilaam could have said the Hebrew word “Kalaim”. The simple meaning of this word means “finish them off”. Total devastation, Heaven forbid. We are aware that there were times, particularly the Holocaust, that reflected periods of Divine anger and the subsequent destruction.
 
There is a fascinating insight of the Chassidic masters which reflects a different type of destruction, one possibly more relevant to us today. The word mentioned above is written with the Hebrew letters “Kaf-Lamed-Mem”. What is fascinating is that these are the exact same letters as the word “Melech”-“King” only in the opposite order (Mem-Lamed-Kaf). Hebrew words are packed with meaning and the fact that “Kalaim” (finish them off) and “Melech” (King) are similar has a vital lesson for us.
 
Different Hebrew letters symbolize certain words and concepts. According to the Chassidic masters the letter “Mem” stands for “Moach”-the mind. “Lamed” represents the “Lev”-the heart, while the “Kaf”-the “Kaved”-the liver, often representing the source of physical activity. The Jewish King was called upon to set an example of what true service of Hashem was. In order to do this, his spiritual make-up needed to reflect how the Torah wants us to live. The “Mem”-“Moach”-“Mind” was on top, followed by “Lamed”-“Lev”-“Heart” and lastly “Kaf”-“Kaved”-“Liver”. The mind controlled his actions providing him the clarity of doing what the Torah dictates. Next was his rich emotional world, for example, King David’s Psalms. Finally, his physical world was essential and vibrant but clearly was at the bottom of his list of priorities. The very word for King in Hebrew encapsulates the essence of what a Jewish king is supposed to be.
 
Conversely Bilaam wanted to curse us with the word which represented the opposite state of being. Hoping to wipe out the unique Jewish character, he wanted to turn our ideal world upside-down. He desired to affect a change through his curse that would cause us to live a world of “Kaf”-“Kaved”-“Liver, that our physical world should be primary. After that we have our unchecked emotional world, our “Lamed”-“Lev”-“Heart” and last and least, according to Bilaam’s attempted curse, was “Mem”-“Moach”-“Mind”. He knew that the greatest curse he could perpetrate was causing the Jewish people to live a life of emptiness, where physicality reigns supreme.
 
One way our enemies have tried to destroy us is through physical annihilation. The other is through spiritual degeneration. Had Bilaam been successful the noble Jewish people would have suffered the curse of “finish them off” through pogroms and holocausts. However we also would have been devastated by lives of meaninglessness.
 
Through Hashem’s kindness we were saved from being wiped out physically and spiritually. For our times, although we don’t fear the physical threats of a Holocaust, we still need to be concerned about the effects of a world that would deny us the nobility and uniqueness of the Jewish soul. Ultimately, Bilaam was unsuccessful in his attempt to uproot that greatness. May Hashem help us grow in our appreciation of the special gifts and necessary hierarchy of the internal world of every one of us.





New Comment    New Comment
   See More Articles By Rabbi David Charlop
   Read more about David's Harp




Top of article    Top of article       Email This Article    Email This Article          Share to Facebook       Print version    Print version


 Join the distribution list Join the distribution list
 
 
  
If you would like to receive other related articles or Breslev.co.il features via e-mail, please enter your e-mail address here:

   

 Related Articles Related Articles
 
 

 
He or She?               The Simcha Connection               The Kiss from Above
 
 He or She?  The Simcha Connection  The Kiss from Above


  0 Talkbacks for this article     

Add Your CommentAdd Your Comment    Add Your Comment    

 
 
  
In Honor of:    In Memory of:
  
 
Like What You Read?
 
Help Breslev Israel spread the light of Rebbe Nachman
across the globe, and be a partner in making a better world.
 
Click here to support Breslev.co.il
  
 
 
 Products of the Day Products of the Day
 
 
 
 
Back  1 2 3  Next
 
 
 
 
  •  
     
  •  
     
  •  
     
  •  
 
Back  1 2 3  Next
 
 
 Most talked about Most talked about
 
 
 
 Most read Most read
 
 
 
 Facebook Facebook
 
 
 
 Mailing List Mailing List
 
 
 
Subscribe Here:   
 
   
 

 
 



  
 
 
open toolbar