Moshe-Mordechai van Zuiden
Moshe-Mordechai van Zuiden
Psychology, Medicine, Science, Politics, Oppression, Integrity, Philosophy, Jews -- For those who like their news and truths frank and sharp

Weekly Torah portions Balak, Korah, or Pharaoh, Adam, Abraham, Joseph, or Moses?

Everyone asks how a villain like Balak merited having a weekly Torah portion named after him. And Korah also doesn’t seem very deserving of the honor.

A related enigma is why there is no Portion named for Adam, Abraham, Joseph, or Moses? Or, if wicked people qualify, why not Pharaoh?

Now, I’m sure there are many answers. This is my latest idea about it.

The six portions that mention a person could actually come in couples. And the first lesson this tells us is that we each can improve our moral level.

Balak, the evil Gentile prophet, is contrasted with the saintly Gentile priest Jethro. Balak saw, Jethro heard. Seeing is superficial, easy, can be completely mistaken. Like Eve saw that the tree was good food. But hearing is close to understanding the essence. Shama’ Yisrael, listen/understand Jews.

We read that Korah took. He took so much that he ended up with nothing, as the Mishnah warns: Grab a lot, you’ll end up empty-handed. Phinehas grabbed a spear to end evil. What a difference.

It says that Noah was 600 years old and still had to father kids to have his life amount to something. But it says that Sarah was 127 years and her life was perfect as it had been. Noah left leading humanity to Abraham, but Sarah actually worked with him. The question is not who’s holier, Noah or Abraham? Rather, ask who was more righteous, Noah or Sarah?

And then, we could also understand why there is no Portion titled Pharaoh. He was at a lonely height of evilness. There is no contrast with him.

How different Adam, Abraham, Joseph, or Moses at their lonely heights. There is no human contrast with Adam. (Even animals lack the wickedness that would be needed to contrast his holiness. Abraham was on one side, and the whole of humankind was on the other side. And who could match the saintly Joseph? Or the unparallel Moses? They didn’t adopt a Portion because they were incomparable.

About the Author
MM is a prolific and creative writer and thinker, a daily blog contributor to the TOI. He makes his readers laugh, and be mad, and think he's nuts—close to perfect blogging. * He is a fetal survivor of the pharmaceutical industry (, born in 1953 to two Dutch 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 strict vegan since 2008. He's an Orthodox Jew but not a rabbi. * 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, lehavdil bein chayim lechayim: Rabbi Dr. Natan Lopes Cardozo, Rav Zev Leff, and Rav Meir Lubin. * 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 (statistics), 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, LGBTQIA, foreigners and anyone else who's dehumanized or exploited), Integrity, Philosophy, Jews (Judaism, Zionism, Holocaust and Jewish Liberation), Ecology and Veganism. Sometimes he's misunderstood because he has such a wide vision that never fits any specialist's box. But that's exactly what many 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 quite 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 500th blog post with the ToI. If you're a native English speaker and wonder why you should read from people whose English is only their second language, consider the advantage of having a peek outside of your cultural bubble. * To find his earlier blog posts on a certain subject XXX, among his over 1200 ones, go to the right-top corner of the Times of Israel page, click on the search icon and search "zuiden, XXX". His second daily active less tame blog, to which one may subscribe, one may find here: or by clicking on the globe icon next to his picture on top. * To send any personal reaction to him, scroll to the top of the blog post and click Contact Me.
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