Kenneth Cohen

Balak- Not Fake

The question was asked as to why we would name a Parsha of the Torah after a רשע, evil person. Balak, the King of Moav, was clearly an enemy of the Jewish people. He wanted to destroy Am Yisrael, and he somehow merits having a Parsha in his name.

The מעינה של תורה, also known as, “ Wellsprings of Torah,” brings a very important and practical explanation. Balak deserves some credit for making his feelings known. He did not try to cover up his animosity for the Jewish people, and we appreciate that.

One of life’s biggest challenges is learning to be able to see through people. We get hurt the most by those who pretend to love us, but later stab us in the back.

This is particularly difficult for children, who are innocent and trusting. Having manipulative and controlling parents, who claim to be doing everything because of their love for their child, can be very confusing. It may take a long time to realize that it isn’t true love they are getting, but a desire to dominate and dictate how to live, when the child’s true desire for happiness is put down.

The word “love” can be a highly dangerous word. If we assume the person using this word, means what he says, we might fall into a trap. Eventually, it becomes clear if this love is true. We see this by a person’s actions, not by his words, if this really is love. But it is so hard to know, because people are so good at being fake.

This is why we give Balak a little recognition. At least we knew where we stood with this guy. This is not something small. How much better life would be if we knew the truth about everyone with whom we come in contact.

About the Author
Rabbi Cohen has been a Torah instructor at Machon Meir, Jerusalem, for over twenty years while also teaching a Talmud class in the Shtieblach of Old Katamon. Before coming to Israel, he was the founding rabbi of Young Israel of Century City, Los Angeles. He recently published a series of Hebrew language-learning apps, which are available at