Moshe-Mordechai van Zuiden
Psychology, Medicine, Science, Politics, Oppression, Integrity, Philosophy, Jews

A warning to wicked leaders: G-d always wins

The Torah Portion of this week is named after a wicked person, Balak, while we normally see such naming as a homage. How can this be?

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose By any other name would smell as sweet” (Romeo and Juliet II, ii, 1-2) cannot be a Jewish quote. In the Holy Tongue, every name, word and letter has deep significance.

When the election of the Person of the Twentieth Century drew to a close, it became clear that Hitler was going to win. His wicked leadership had marked the previous century as no one else’s had. With a lot of last-minute campaigning, the embarrassment was prevented with Einstein coming out the winner.

(Isn’t it amazing how Jewish that epoch was, with eternal Jewish world-leaders like Einstein, Freud, Marx, Herzl, Frank, Ben-Gurion, and one anti-Jewish one: Hitler and hardly anyone else?)

The valid question could be asked how wicked Balak merited to have a Weekly Torah Portion named after him. He’s not even the main character or hero of the story as the great Prophet Balaam is.

The Sages suggest that his merit was that he was an “honest” Jew-hater. The merit of honesty is so great that even abuse of it cannot totally eclipse its value. Yet, I want a simple explanation to start with.

These are the six people who have a Weekly Torah Portion named after them: Noach, Sarah, Jethro, Korach, Balak and Phinehas.

  • Noach – He on his own walked with G-d – no small feat.
  • Sarah – She was a greater prophet even than Abraham.
  • Jethro – As Gentile, he adopted Judaism and even advised Moses!
  • Korach – He showed his wickedness but still repented – a bit late.
  • Balak – First of all, this was to slight the real “hero” of the story, dishonest Balaam. The latter wanted to use G-d but he was used by Balak and G-d. Balak is prominent because also his (failed) wicked leadership hallowed G-d’s Name. (See below.)
  • Phinehas – He showed that if one is humble and in-tune with what’s True, one can go even beyond than what has been clear until today and come out being contracted by G-d retroactively.

No portion is named after Moses, but his glory fills every letter of the Torah. However, he is called the most humble on earth (Numbers 12:3) because Korach was even more humble(d) – after the earth swallowed him up. And Moses is called the all-time greatest among the Jews (Deuteronomy 34:10) because, among all people, Balaam was actually greater. But greatness doesn’t equal holiness automatically.

If Balaam would have walked with G-d, he would have been greater than Moses, but since he only wanted to use G-d, G-d used him – the fate of all totally wicked people.

Many times, we all have a choice to team up with the Creator and put in some effort, or to feel free to do anything in the book, go with the flow, take it easy, be comfortable, justify ourselves, only chase short-term pleasures and feel completely unrestrained, in which case G-d will use us with our predictable “natural” behavior as pawns to further His goals.

(Actually, we do not have a choice like that. Rather, Free Will is that we are commanded to put in the effort and free (elevate) ourselves.)

We can’t go against G-d. We either diligently and meritoriously cooperate with Him or He’ll use our undeserving shameful indifference to holiness to further His Plot. G-d always wins.

All the name-givers to the Weekly Portions hallowed G-d’s Name. Most of them by being holy and some of them by being wicked.

Prominent people will be remembered. But it is their choice how they want their lives eternally to stand out: as friends to people, to the Jews and to G-d or as their enemies.

About the Author
The author is a fetal survivor of the pharmaceutical industry (DES - Diethylstilbestrol), born in 1953 to two Dutch Holocaust survivors who met in the largest concentration camp in the Netherlands, Westerbork, and holds a BA in medicine (University of Amsterdam). He taught Re-evaluation Co-counseling, became a social activist, became religious, made Aliyah, and raised three wonderful kids. He wrote an unpublished tome about Jewish Free Will. He's a vegan for 8 years now. * His most influential teachers (chronologically) are: his parents, Nico (natan) van Zuiden and Betty (beisye) Nieweg, Wim Kan, Mozart, Harvey Jackins, Marshal Rosenberg, Reb Shlomo Carlebach and lehavdiel bein chayim lechayim: Rabbi Dr. Natan Lopes Cardozo and Rav Zev Leff. * Previously, for decades, he was known to the Jerusalem Post readers as a frequent letter writer. For a couple of years he wrote hasbara for the Dutch public. His fields of attention now are varied: Psychology (including Sexuality and Abuse), Medicine (including physical immortality), Science, Politics (Israel, the US and the Netherlands, Activism - more than leftwing or rightwing, he hopes to highlight Truth), Oppression and Liberation (intersectionally, for young people, the elderly, non-Whites, women, workers, Jews, GLBTQAI, foreigners and anyone else who's dehumanized or exploited), Integrity, Philosophy, Jews (Judaism, Zionism, Holocaust and Jewish Liberation), Ecology and Veganism. Many people can't understand or like him because he has such a wide vision that he never fits any specialist's box. But that exactly what others love about him. Many of his posts relate to affairs from the news or the Torah Portion of the Week or are new insights that suddenly befell him. * He hopes that his words will inspire and inform, reassure the doubters but make the self-assured doubt more. He strives to bring a fresh perspective rather than bore you with the obvious. He doesn't expect his readers to agree. Rather, original minds must be disputed. In short, his main political positions are: anti-Trumpism, for Zionism, Intersectionality, non-violence, democracy, anti the fake peace process, for original-Orthodoxy, Science, Free Will, anti blaming-the-victim and for down-to-earth optimism. Read his blog how he attempts to bridge any discrepancies. He admits sometimes exaggerating to make a point, which could have him come across as nasty, while in actuality, he's quit a lovely person to interact with. He holds - how Dutch - that a strong opinion doesn't imply intolerance of other views. * His writing has been made possible by an allowance for second generation Holocaust survivors from the Netherlands. It has been his dream since he was 38 to try to make a difference by teaching through writing. He had three times 9-out-of-10 for Dutch at his high school finals but is spending his days communicating in English and Hebrew - how ironic. G-d must have a fine sense of humor. In case you wonder - yes, he is a bit dyslectic. November 13, 2018, he published his 500st blog post with the ToI. * He likes doing age-appropriate and age-inappropriate things and looks forward to getting to know his timeless mature out-of-the-box soul mate. * To send any personal reaction to him, scroll to the top of the blog post and click Contact Me.
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