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Chukat-Balak(Numbers 19:1-25:9)

Real Power

What would you do if you were one of the world's greatest magicians? Not like David Blaine or slight-of-hand magic, but real magic. Would you sell your abilities to become wealthy? If you knew God blessed you with these abilities, would you use them to do something He didn't want you to do?

Is there real magic?

The forces of power in the world are created by God, and some people have figured out how to tap into them. We often find that which we desperately seek. Many of us are curious, fascinated and skeptical of strange powers, ESP, psychics, or people into real magic. But some people strongly gravitate toward impure forces, and try in many ways to acquire unusual abilities. Others are merely "blessed" with these abilities.

Everything in life is a test and a challenge. In the areas of normal human behavior, we have lots of challenges. Relationships, work, honesty and love -- a lifetime of spiritual struggles follows us all around.

Along with life's struggles come challenges and difficulties that we don't relate to as a spiritual task, but rather merely a hurdle from the natural world. We wish we could magically avoid or overcome the hurdle. Is this the fascination with super heroes like Spiderman and Wonder Woman? Do they help us vicariously enjoy the world through the fantasy of extra abilities?


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Bilaam was one man who had special abilities, and those talents merely allowed him to do more spiritual damage and become more of an egotist. His self-worth was so large that he thought he deserved the royal treatment. In Numbers chapter 22, we see a person who appears on the outside to righteous and only want to do what God wants. Yet he is easily led to do that which God doesn't want. How come? Because it's all a show. He really doesn't care about God, even though he recognizes Him as the source of his blessings. He is blinded by honor and gifts.

This is precisely the danger of special abilities. The stronger you are, the more people you have the power to help and to hurt.

As human beings, we have incredible abilities that go largely untapped. Plus we are able to ask the Almighty for assistance that we lack in many areas. We can ask God to save our life, heal the sick, or stop a war. And He often answers our prayers.

One request remains as one of the most important and often forgotten: for the ability to use whatever blessings we receive only for the good. Let us not fall into the trap of using our blessings to go away from our Benefactor. What would be more of an insult to Him than that?


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As one sage once put it, "God runs almost everything in the entire world. And the last bit left... He also controls."

Even with all of his abilities, Bilaam was still unable to curse the Jewish people, as Balak the king wanted him to. It wasn't for lack of trying. Bilaam did his best, but when he opened his mouth to curse, God turned his words into a blessing.

A person can point a gun, but if the Almighty really doesn't want the victim to die, they'll survive, or the bullet will jam, or the shooter will miss. There are so many ways for God to circumvent the plan of the killer. Part of life's plan is that the Almighty gives us free will and doesn't force us into doing mitzvahs or avoiding transgressions. Yet if He really wants to stop something from happening, He can. And He often does.


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Why did Balak choose to hire Bilaam to curse the Jews? Because Balak recognized that the Jews' true power lies in their mouths. Prayer is the true power of the servants of God, so to fight them Balak looked for someone else who had the power of the mouth.

The Jewish power is prayer. That's what helps us the most, because with prayer you can tap into the power of the Almighty. With His help, is there anything you can't accomplish?

Don't waste your time with minor powers like magic, ESP and psychic abilities. Develop the power of prayer -- and you can have the world in the palm of your hand.


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Spiritual Exercise:

For the next three days, pray for God to open your eyes to more of your innate abilities.

June 29, 2009

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Visitor Comments: 7

(7) Anonymous, September 2, 2015 11:29 PM

Thank Rabbi

(6) Anonymous, July 3, 2015 11:48 AM

Very well put! Thanks for posting!

(5) Anonymous, June 25, 2015 12:02 PM

Great one! Thanks for posting!

(4) carolyn, June 13, 2013 4:28 PM

G-d is all powerful, and the only "power" you need

Beware of "powers" personal or otherwise. If it is not coming from G-d you don't need it or should want it. It comes from prayer & your heart. Many strange & miraculous things happen to me, but I know the source, it is G-d. I pray to be given what I need, & not really anything specific. I let him provide the answer, because what I think I need may not be it, so why limit myself. I also pray for protection and I know that as long as I live under his wing I am safe, that is my home. It can be awkward when "strange" things happen, & people make comments to me about it. My latest trial and tribulation has been the sale of my home after a 3 year long court battle. I sold my house on the first day, to the first appointment, for my asking price and to the right people. My home was very personal and there has been much pain associated with this entire period & the right person to buy it was one of the most important things. My house generated multiple bidders & I told each one I needed 2 things, the price I asked and for them to be the right person. I sold my house in a most unusual manner, I was there with buyers and agents. We were all standing by my barn in my beautiful backyard & someone said it must be hard to sell this place. I said that it was & that is why I needed the right buyer, I had dreams that I didn't finish there, & that there was plenty of room for others to dream & realize their own. That is what I wanted to see when I left, not a sense of loss. My house and land was a place of healing, comfort, beauty and love, and that was also available to whoever lived there after me. We were all almost in tears, as there wasn't a person there who hadn't been at the emotional crossroad that I was. I said that where ever I went the same would be true, that there is no limit on such things, I always get what I need, it is my gift of faith. I know the source and there is no other, G-d.

(3) peter, June 26, 2010 7:13 PM

Prayer and learing to hear His still small voice

Thank you Rabbi, your article led me to write the following: Prayer produces intimacy, it brings you closer together with those you pray for. Love desires to benefit others at the expense of self, because true love desires to give. Lust desires to benefit and satisfy self at the expense of self and others, its desire is to take, and it is the core of sin. To obey is better then sacrifice, you can not compensate by sacrifice what you lose through disobedience. Obedience is the evidence of love, the manifestation of love is your obedience, if we obey G-d he will manifest himself in and through us, it is the place where G-d answers our prayers, and even miracles happen. Agreement is the power of life (agree with G-d and His word) The place of agreement is the place of power, G-d never gives authority without accountability. Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of G-d, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which do appear. Without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that comes to G-d must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. Isaiah 59 : 1, 2 and 3 tells us why our prayers are not answered. Proverbs 18: 21 tells us that death and life are in the power of the tongue. If you want to experience the power of G-d in your life, render not evil for evil or railing for railing, but to the contrary give blessings, so you will receive a blessing, G-d has put a sowing and reaping process in place, it is His law. For he that will love life and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil and his lips that they speak no guile, let him eschew evil and do good: let him seek peace and ensue it. For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayers, etc.

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