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There are people in the world who are simply too meddlesome for their own good. As King Solomon points out in Proverbs, they provoke passing dogs and engage in quarrels and controversies that really do not affect them directly. That is the main transgression of Balak as described in this week's Torah reading. The Jewish people are not threatening him or his nation. They just happened to be around in the neighborhood and he exploits their presence for his own personal ambition and prejudices.

There is a terrible tendency in human affairs to cloak being a busybody with the aura of altruism and justice. The Talmud decries those who stir up controversies, especially when they are not personally involved or affected by the issue in question. Balak never liked the Jewish people and always looked to eliminate them from living in his neighborhood.
He is aware that currently he is in no danger from them and though they are bypassing his borders, they have no intention of conquering his land. Nevertheless, he picks a fight with the Jewish people, and so to speak, with God Himself and poses as a champion of all of the nations that are threatened by the mere existence of the Jewish people and their right to inherit the land promised to them through their forefathers.
He, with his willing partner Bilaam, devises a scheme to curse the Jewish people and thereby weaken and eventually eliminate them from the scene. But he conceals is animus towards the Jewish people with high-sounding principles and justifiable motives. But in the end, he is simply meddling in matters that do not directly concern him.
We witness this phenomenon in the world today regarding the State of Israel, and by inference, the Jewish people generally. All of the world is concerned with the situation regarding the Israelis and the Palestinians. No one seems to be willing to let the parties to this dispute settle the matter by themselves and with themselves. Everyone has plans, roadmaps, and advice as to how to pressure Israel to somehow give in to the unreasonable demands of the Palestinians.
This dispute does not really concern any of the college professors or the do-gooders that lead the BDS movement or any of the other myriad NGOs that badger us constantly. They do not live in this neighborhood of the world nor are they subject to the constant dangers that surround Israeli society day in and day out.
They glorify their meddling in others’ affairs by their smug self-righteousness and the: “I know what is good for you, better than you do” that often identifies those who call themselves progressives and liberals.
There are many Balaks and Bilaams in today's world who are concerned about us and basically mean to do us no harm. As are all of the human characters we meet in the Bible, Balak and Bilaam are prototypes of later human beings who exist in all generations and circumstances. Be careful of their benevolence and blessings.
Shabbat shalom
Rabbi Berel Wein

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