Parsha: Chukas Balak (2023)

When I studied in New York in 2009, I would often take the subways on Friday afternoons for our weekly outreach programs. On the walls of the subways there was a line that read, “If you see something say something”.

Sometimes we have the following thought process:
“Who am I to say something? I’m sure they’ll figure it out on their own, or maybe they’re consulting more gifted and more influential people than myself”.

We may have an opportunity to help others and make a difference, but we don’t really feel that we are the ones that are capable of making a lasting change.
So we pass up the offer and move on.

The Parsha this week has a thrilling story. Balak, the King of Moab, is terrified and completely lost as to what to do. The Jewish people are marching towards his territory, and he panics. Out of desperation he summons the prophet Balaam the
greatest expert in his field, to curse the people of Israel. Balak was weak and desperate, Balaam was the master and confident expert.

Yet the name of the Parsha is named after Balak the inferior of the two, not the all powerful magician. Why are we shifting the blame and giving the name of the Parsha to the guy standing on the side, just giving ideas?

The answer and lesson are clear. Balak had the plan, and the idea. He wasn’t necessarily the world’s greatest expert, but he did pass on the idea and made sure it would be implemented. And for this he got the blame.

So ultimately the blame or credit will go to the one that has the courage to take their idea and pass it on.

Whether it seems to be an outlandish idea that can get someone a job, or perhaps help someone find their soulmate. You may even, have a great idea for your community shule or school, or a great plan that would make the carpool scheduling easier for everyone.

We have the obligation to speak up, and you may just end up getting all the credit.

Here is a challenge for the week: Which ideas, do you have that can help someone else?
Don’t shy away from sharing it.

Shabbat Shalom
Rabbi Zalman