Parshas Balak – A Curse That Never Was

This week in the Torah:

An evil prophet aspires to curse the Jews. But at each attempt, all that comes out of his mouth are divinely inspired blessings.

One of these prophecies describes Moshiach:

“I see him, but not now. I perceive him, but he is not near. A star will shoot forth from Jacob, and a staff will arise from Israel. He will crush the princes of Moab; he will devastate all the descendants of Seth. Edom will be possessed, Se’ir, his enemy, will be possessed, and Israel will grow strong. A ruler will come from Jacob, and destroy the remnant of a city.” (Numbers 24:17-19.)

Maimonides, (Mishneh Torah, Laws of Kings, 11:1), explains:

Each of these verses actually speaks of both the first and second Moshiach; the first being King David of old; the second being King Moshiach of the End of Days.


What are the halachic ramifications of this comparison between King David and King Moshiach, (for which Maimonides enumerates the comparison in his code of Jewish law).

The point:

The main function of Moshiach is to bring about the universal return to Torah observance. Maimonides, then, is ruling here that this is meant to be the main thrust of belief in Moshiach – the definite eventuality of perfect and universal Torah fulfillment.


The comparison of Moshiach to David, the first Jewish leader to bring this about – as a righteous man himself (“I see him…”), as a Jewish leader (“A star will shoot forth from Jacob…”), and as a ruler over the nations of the world (“He will crush the princes of Moab…”).

(Based on Likkutei Sichos, Vol. 18, Balak)

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