Balaam got up in the morning, saddled his donkey and went with the Moabite officials. — Numbers 22:21
The Torah portion for this week is Balak, after the king of the Moabites, from Numbers 22:2–25:9, and the Haftorah is from Micah 5:6–6:8.
Several years ago, a man named Kaleb Whitby made headlines when a photo, showing the pickup truck he was driving smashed between two semi-trucks, went viral on the internet. Only a tiny portion of his truck remained intact – just enough for Whitby to survive with little more than a scratch.
Whitby later said that when he knew the accident was unavoidable, he prayed to God that all would be OK. God heard his prayers, and no matter how unlikely his survival was, when God determines that a person will live, nothing can get in the way.
In this week’s Torah portion, we read about Balaam, the sorcerer hired by King Balak to curse the people of Israel. Scripture tells us that when Balaam set out on his journey to harm the Israelites, “Balaam got up in the morning, saddled his donkey . . .” Balaam got up super early in great anticipation of his mission.
The Jewish sages compare this verse to another. In Genesis 22:3 we read, “Early the next morning Abraham got up and loaded his donkey . . .” In that instance, Abraham got up early in anticipation of fulfilling God’s commandment to sacrifice his son. The sages teach that the similarity of these verses is meant to create a parallel between the two instances. If Abraham, who acted out of the best of intentions, could not harm Isaac, and therefore the entire nation of Israel, then certainly Balaam, who acted against God’s will, would not be successful in destroying the nation of Israel. When God has a plan, nothing — and nobody — can stop it.
In Proverbs 19:21 we read, “Many are the plans in a person's heart, but it is the LORD's purpose that prevails.” Or as we say in common vernacular, “Man plans, and God laughs.” It’s true in the little things in our personal lives, and certainly holds true in the greater things in the global atmosphere.
Whether we are faced with the annihilation of the state of Israel or personal harm in our own lives – if it’s not God’s will, it simply won’t happen. Today, Israel faces threats on every border. We face an existential threat from Iran miles away. By all natural accounts, Israel shouldn’t even have survived this long, but God’s will has overcome the greatest of our enemy armies. So, too, no matter what evil the world has planned against Israel, it shall not come to pass!
I want to encourage us all today to rest assured that nothing can happen to us that isn’t the will of the Lord. God won’t allow anything to thwart His good plan for your life or His master plan for Israel and the world.
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With prayers for shalom, peace,
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein
Founder and President