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Balak(Numbers 22:2-25:9)

Admitting Weakness

In this week's Torah portion, a king named Balak wanted to curse the Jewish people. He sought out a prophet named Balaam to carry out this wish and sent his officers to summon him. Balaam asked God if he could go, but God immediately told him not to go and curse the Jewish people because they were a people who were "blessed." But when Balaam relayed this answer to the king's officers, Balaam left that part out and only said:

"...God refuses to let me go with you." (Numbers, 22:13)


God had told Balaam two distinct and specific points in response to his request to go and curse the Jewish people. First, God emphatically told Balaam not to go and second, to not curse the Jewish people because they are blessed. But when Balaam relayed this simple and brief response, he left out 50 percent of what God said!

God made it very clear to Balaam that it would be completely futile to even attempt to curse the Jews because they are a blessed nation. But to an arrogant and haughty prophet -- which Balaam certainly was -- he could never bring himself to admit his own powers lacked any limitations. So instead of telling the king's delegates that Balaam was simply the wrong man for the job and would be completely ineffective and incapable of doing the king's bidding, he chose to omit all of this and "pass the buck" to God by only saying that God said he wasn't allowed to go.

It's what Balaam purposely didn't say that can teach us all a valuable lesson in our own lives. To most people, it's clear that God gave each of us certain unique strengths and talents whereby certain things that just seem to "naturally" to us. But it is also equally clear that God didn't give us certain skills and strengths. Whether we're not good at math, directions, instruction manuals, drawing, or organization -- we all have weaknesses. While some of these weaknesses are things we might continually work on to become better people, there are some things that we are just plain not good at, and that's just how it is!

But those with low self-esteem have a difficult time ever admitting they lack any skill or ability. They wrongly believe that an acknowledgement of a lack of talent in any area would be a direct reflection on their own self-worth.

However, the exact opposite is true. Those who can readily and easily admit that they aren't "good" at something aren't showing weakness or incompetence. Rather, it demonstrates honesty, strength and self-confidence. Others will look at this person and see someone who is comfortable with the strengths and talents that they DO have and need not proclaim to all they meet that they're good at everything.

Balaam was just too proud to admit he couldn't do what someone had requested of him. Let's learn from this the next time you're asked to do something that you're either not that skilled at or are outright incapable of doing. Contrary to what Balaam believed, telling people you're not the right person for the job will actually make you shine in their eyes, because it means you have the confidence to say so. It also sends the message that when you do take on a task, you unquestionably believe that you'll deliver great results.

June 24, 2007

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Visitor Comments: 11

(9) Anonymous, July 19, 2016 11:52 AM

Excellent article and very well written! Thanks for posting!

(8) Anonymous, June 30, 2015 3:03 AM

Great one! Thanks for posting!

(7) Jay, July 5, 2014 9:41 PM

True to Me

Recently I was criticized by my boss on a number of fronts. I listened pretty calmly for me and then I said that I agreed with one major point but disagreed with many of the others. I was honest as I could be about the major point. ..I still have a job. This was a great passage.

(6) Mort Metersky, July 6, 2012 4:55 PM

Socrates said, " Someone who KNOWS what he DOESN'T KNOW is a wise man.(or something close to that.

(5) manuel, July 3, 2011 9:43 PM

Just tell Maradona

Maradona was the best soccer player in the world ever, but an awful trainer, he thought that the magic of his presence would motivate the players of the Argentinian squad to make it right in the last soccer championship, Argentina almost lost the pre-soccer American zone play offs and also had a weak performance in the last World Soccer Championship in South Africa, just tell Maradona

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