The Honest Will Make Names For Themselves by Daniel Wenger


            Several Parshiot are named after their major characters.  It is odd that Balak, an evil man, has a Parsha named after him.  Shouldn't only righteous people should have Parshiot named after them, such as Noach, Yitro, and Pinchas?  How did the man who ordered Bilam to curse Bnai Yisrael have a Parsha named after him?  One might think Bilam should be honored in this way, since his blessing became part of our daily Davening, but why Balak?

            The answer can be found in the way those individuals tried to destroy Bnai Yisrael.  The Divrei Shaarei Chaim explains that when Hashem told Bilam that he could not curse Bnai Yisrael, Bilam actually wanted to bless them.  It was Bilam's evil intentions, not entirely Hashem's direction, that inspired him to bless them.  He thought that if he befriended Bnai Yisrael by blessing them, he could slowly assimilate them.

            This type of assimilation is especially common in our time.  Other nations and religions attract more worshippers through showing off their good side, and once we become interested in their activities, some of us join them ourselves and eventually convert.

            Balak acted in the opposite way.  He verbalized his hatred toward Bnai Yisrael and his desire to curse them.  As sinister as his plan was, he acted in a straightforward manner and did not attempt to deceive anyone.  Rabbi Meir Przemysl says that for this reason Balak merited to have a Parsha named after him.  As bad as he was, his blunt honesty in this issue merited him a high honor.  If this is the reward for an evil person's honesty, imagine the reward a good person can get if he tells the truth!  Bilam's name should inspire us - not for his evil, but for his honesty on all matters, good or bad.

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