Drash Cards for Balak (5765)
by Marc Mangel
• Between the talking she-donkey (Ch 22, v 28ff) and the blessing of Israel (Ch 24, v 5) is a great mussar lesson
• Ch 23, v 10: “May my soul die the death of the upright” (Mot Yesharim)
• Hertz is the only commentator to point out that this is not achieved by Balak, who is slain with the Midianites (Ch 31, v 8) — he was at the wrong place at the wrong time
• Hertz says “It would have been better had he said ‘Let me live the life of the upright’. That is the only way to die their death”
• What does it mean to be Yashar? R. Moshe Gorelick, Modern Orthodox, writes: “There are two dimensions to piety. The first, represented by the word tzaddik, implies strict adherence to the laws of Shulchan Aruch. A tzaddik is meticulously observant. But while one may be scrupulously attentive to the laws of Torah, he may still overlook the Torah’s ethical substratum. The tzaddik may pay special attention to the application of the law, while remaining insensitive to the ethical quality of the mitzvah”
• He goes on “Being yashar, on the other hand, denotes strict adherence to the moral values as well as the observance of the commandments. Yashar implies…a commitment to the ideals and values symbolized by the law..Torah life possesses religious significance only when it transcends narrow legalisms, only when a person internalizes its moral qualities and ethical values and responds to events and challenges accordingly. Only then does he transcend tzidikut. Only then is he yashar”.
• May we all become yashar.