Parshas Balak: Instead of Putting Others Down, Build Yourself Up!

Greetings from hot and steamy North America!  It is nice to be back in the warmer weather again, and even nicer to see our families.  Getting here has been quite the trip, but it is worth it in the end.  During all our travels we always try to maintain a positive attitude, no matter how difficult things become.

Rabbi Ben was once traveling in Peru.  His ticket needed a change, so he went to a special counter. Ahead of him was a German couple who were very upset about something and were shouting at the clerk behind the desk. Unfortunately, she spoke no German and they spoke no Spanish or English. By the time they left, the poor girl was nearly in tears. “Can I help you?” she asked Rabbi Ben. “No, can I help you?” he replied. Because he was so nice to her, she gave him a free upgrade to business class.

Akiva on Plane

Akiva "reads" the safety information card on one of our many flights

Rebbetzin Rachel and Akiva had the ride of their lives this week when their flight left Sydney late. Because they missed their flights to the East Coast of America, they ended up running into horrible storms.  Five flights and more than three full days later, they still had not arrived in Virginia, where her parents live.  In the end, they had to take a bus to make it in time for Shabbos! But although some tears were shed, both mother and baby tried at the very least to be kind to all the people – airline staff, security, ground crew, and other passengers – they met along the way. After all, it doesn’t cost anything to be nice, and it might just make another person’s day.

In truth, we have this choice every day in our daily interactions.  In this week’s parsha, we see Balak make this same choice as well.  When dealing with the Jewish people, he has two options: either he can ask Hashem to bless himself or he can ask Hashem to curse the Jews.  When he hires Bilaam, he chooses the latter.  After all, it is easier to put another person down than it is to work hard on building yourself up!  But ultimately, this plan backfires.  Cursing others and wishing them ill is not what Hashem wants of us, any of us.

We can carry this lesson with us into the week.  When we are feeling low, we can ask G-d to bless us and build us up, instead of putting the other person down.  When we are angry, we can ask G-d to help fix things for us, rather than railing against the nearest person available for blame.  No matter what our situation, we can always choose to ask for a blessing, rather than to give a curse.

Shabbat shalom!

Read more on Parshas Balak: Listening to Hashem’s Messages

Read more on Parshas Balak: Here’s to Bilam! (Who’s Really Not Such a Bad Guy)


No Responses to “Parshas Balak: Instead of Putting Others Down, Build Yourself Up!”


  1. Parshas Balak: The Beauty and Modesty of the Jewish Home | Travelling Rabbi - [...] Read more on Parshas Balak: Instead of Putting Others Down, Build Yourself Up! [...]
  2. Parshas Masei: It’s the Journey, Not the Destination | Travelling Rabbi - [...] this time last year, I traveled to North America to visit my family.   I had a really terrible ...

Leave a Reply