This week we read about a sorcerer and a magician – Balak and Bilaam – who come together to curse the Israelites. Bilaam was a sorcerer who was on the same energetic level as Moses, but on the negative side.
Verse 170 in the Balak portion of the Zohar says “…So we find that the ending the name of Bilaam, which is AM, and the ending of the name of Balak that is Lamed Kof, together spell “Amalek”. The numerical value of the word Amalek is 240 and is equal to the word “safek”, which means “uncertainty” and “doubt.”
Balak and Bilaam are two negative forces that we all possess. When these two forces come together they disconnect us from the Light. How? By getting us to doubt and fall into uncertainty. When we face challenges, the Opponent's goal is to make us forget the cause and effect, forget our connection to the Light. The Opponent wants to take away our certainty, the vessel that holds the Light and protection. The Opponent wants to break the vessel by injecting doubt. The Light, however, can never be removed, nor can its blessing be taken away. All of the blessings – love, strength, wisdom – are here right now. The Opponent cannot take away all these blessings, but he can take away our consciousness. The Opponent might, say, make us feel good about an accomplishment and cause us to forget the Light; or he may make us face a difficult situation and fall into fear and anxiety, causing us to disconnect from the Light.
If you take the first two letters of the names Bilaam and Balak, you end up with the word “bilbul,” which means ‘confusion’. The rest of the letters make up the word “omek” which means “deep thoughts”. So Balak and Bilaam not only had the power to inject doubt, they also had the power to confuse even the deepest thoughts. Within the month of Cancer, we know that fears and doubts abound; with the power of this portion we can overcome any fear, confusion or doubts.
One of the other gifts of this week is the ability to see the truth. The Zohar says that Bilaam saw that the Creator did not want him to go with the emissaries of Balak. Nevertheless, he got on his donkey and went in anyway. The Creator sent an angel to block his path, yet Bilaam neither saw nor heard the angel. It was his donkey that saw the angel and stopped. Rav Berg says that as soon as a person has made a decision and does not want to see the truth, at that point he is no longer allowed to see. This is why, when we do some not-so-amazing things, we often ask ourselves, “How did we not see that?” Now we know: because it was blocked from us. If a person has already decided to go ahead without the Light, then he won’t see the Light even if it’s right in front of his nose. The root of the problem is simple – we hear what we want to hear. We don’t really listen. We see only what we want to see. When we ask a question, there are many times that the question itself already contains the answer. The Rav says that the problem is that we ask the Light, “What do you think?” when we have already made up our minds. In truth, we just want to rationalize our action.
If we were truly looking and listening, we would we able to see and hear everything. If we were 100% receptive, we would be able to find all of the answers to all of our questions in everything we hear and see. The question is: how can we work on ourselves so that we can hear the genuine truth, not the truth we want to hear? The Rav explains that if a person is into himself and always occupied with himself, he will only see what he wants to see. However, if a person steps outside of himself and sees how many other people he can help, then he stands a chance of seeing the truth. We can only see what we need to fix in ourselves if we try to see what someone else needs.
The Zohar (Balak verse 191) says that the Creator is busy with the prayers of the poor, the prayers of the broken heart. What does “broken heart” mean in this context?
Having a broken heart means seeing a certain issue or klipot and knowing that only the Light of the Creator can help us change it. It means not being depressed when we see our selfishness. It means feeling broken on the one hand, yet happy and certain that the Light will help us take care of problems on the other. We all have layers of filth within us. When we see and recognize what we need to change (with excitement and not self-hate); when we truly crave the Light's help – that's when we have a broken heart.
If a man or a woman enters a mikve and doesn’t have a broken heart, the mikve can’t do its job. Only a broken heart can receive the answers from the Light. It’s necessary and okay to see our imperfections. We need to know that without the Light we are poor. That's why the prayer book of The Kabbalah Centre is called Tefila Le’Ani - The Prayer of the Poor.
In summary, we can receive guidance from the Light this week to see the truth and the gift of removing doubts and uncertainty. In order to receive this guidance, however, we need to constantly ask ourselves, “What does the Creator want me to do right now?” and be open to hearing the answer. Secondly, this week we can gain the gift of having a broken heart, if we remember to see our imperfections and yet feel excited for seeing them, knowing that only the Light of the Creator can help us change them.
This is the week that we want to earn the merit of clarity and have protection against confusion.