Parshas Balak – A Star and a Staff

By: Shalom Olensky


This week in the Torah:

An evil prophet (Bilaam) is employed by a hateful king (Balak) to curse the Jews, G-d forbid. But G-d places words of blessing in Bilaam’s mind and mouth; blessings and prophesies that extol the Jews and promise them eternal blessing. Amongst these prophesies is, (Numbers 24:17), “A star shall shoot forth from Jacob, a staff shall stand up from Israel.”

Jerusalem Talmud (Taanis 4:5):

This verse refers to King Moshiach.

Jerusalem Talmud (Maaser Sheini 4:6):

This verse refers to the Jews.


How can these praises – a luminous star and leadership (represented by a staff) – be appended to both Moshiach and the Jews equally?

Meor Einayim [A compilation of Chassidic thought; mostly an account of teachings of the Baal Shem Tov]:

The soul of Moshiach is a soul that contains within it all the souls of Israel. The soul of each and every Jew, therefore contains a spark of Moshiach’s soul.

The Lubavitcher Rebbe:

Hence, each and every Jew is given the same appellation (“star from Jacob” and “leader of Israel”) as that which is given to Moshiach, for it refers to the Moshiach within the Jew – the essence of the Jew’s soul. When the Divine essence of the Jew’s soul will be openly revealed in his/her personal life, this effects a personal “coming of Moshiach.”

(A common theme amongst the Lubavitcher Rebbe’s teachings. E.g., Talk of Simchas Torah Eve, 5746.)


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