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The Crown of Halacha

Balak 5777 – The Power of No-ing

This entry is part 7 of 9 in the series Bamidbar 5777

The Power of No-ing

At one point in their relationship, Balak becomes angry with Bilam and he said, “I summoned you to curse my enemies and you instead blessed them 3 times!” (24:10)


To this Bilam answered, “Didn’t I tell your emissaries that if Balak would give me his houseful of gold that I cannot transgress the word of Hashem to do good or bad on my own…”


If this is what Bilam said why did Balak pursue the issue?

Let’s Make a Deal

Once there was a poor farmer. He had a little stand off to the side in the marketplace where he would come to every erev Shabbos to sell his produce. It happened to be that the Princess of the country enjoyed choosing the fruits and vegetables for the palace pantry. It also happened to be that she would buy figs every Friday from the poor farmer. Over time the farmer fell in love with the princess. One day he asked her to marry him.


“I can’t marry you, you’re a poor farmer and I’m a Princess!”


“Would you marry me if I owned a palace and each room was filled with gold?” he asked her.


“Of course I would.”


“How about for 200 gold coins!” he continued.


“Don’t you think you have a lot of chutzpah to ask me such a question!”


“Not really, your highness. Now that we know you have a price the rest is up for negotiation!” the farmer answered.

The Price is Right

This story applies to all of us, we all have our price. And the Yetzer Hara knows it. For some of us it’s kovod, or chem das momon, or jealousy. It could be a desire to be noticed, or a desire to be lazy. For most of us, the list is endless.


The Yetzer Hara is negotiating with us all the time. Sometimes he tries to bargain us down, sometimes he’s willing to overpay us in order to quickly conclude the deal.


Let me say it again: He knows we have a price, he knows what our price is, and he has the means of delivering the goods. How can we fight such an opponent?

Just say “No”!

The answer is that Balak understood that Bilam’s no was not a real no, it was not unmoving nor steadfast. Bilam qualified his “no” by attaching it to a price to it. When Balak saw this he continued to pressure Bilam and tried to buy him out for a price. If not for money, then for kavod. So Balak sent a most prestigious group of emissaries, and Bilam couldn’t resist.


A real “No” is when we just say “No”. “No” has a power if it is used correctly. When the Yaitzer Hara tries to buy our service there is only one answer that works -. No! No to kovod, no to chemdos momon, no to jealousy. No to serving the Yaitzer Hara, No to rebelling against the Almighty! “No” is a complete sentence, there’s no room to argue.


Series Navigation<< Chukos 5777 – A Fool is Wise in His Own EyesPinchas 5777 – A Man of Action >>
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