June 20, 2018 ~ Shabbat HUQAT. Maqam HOSENI.

Shabbat Balaq

Grass of the Field

כלחך השור את ירק השדה - When in competition against rivals, playing fairly is praiseworthy. When Moab saw that Israel was traveling in their direction, they conspired with Midian on the basis that Israel "will devour everything around us, like the ox devours all the grass of the field (Numbers 22:4)." Although their concerns over its limited supply of resources had validity, their method of defeating Israel through sorcery, witchcraft, and divination is indicative of the poor moral character of these parties. Rather than confront their challengers in a straightforward way (i.e. by declaring war), Moab and Midian attempt to weaken Israel from behind; first by commissioning Bilaam to have God curse them, and then by sending women to seduce them and recruit them into foreign cults. While it is important to play hard in all fields of life, all victories should be achieved fairly and not through backhanded means. Beth Torah Bulletin, July 8, 2017.