Saturday, 19 June 2010

Schadenfreude I - Parshat Balak

Schadenfreude –I Parshat Balak

The Torah Claims that Balak hired Bil’am because:
“Those whom he blessed were blessed, and those whom he cursed were cursed.” Rashi objects to a literal read, because after all, Balak is seeking ONLY a curse and he considers the Blessings just so much flattering blather But what would happen if the literal truth were true and Bil’am was equally capable of blessing as well as cursing? If that were the case, then Balak would have had a choice in how to deal with the Israelite threat to his territory:
  1. Curse the Israelites to make THEM vulnerable
  2. Bless the Moabites to make HIS nation invincible.
And what choice did Balak make? And why is that an important Torah lesson? Well the choice he made was indeed to have Bil’am curse the Israelites. The psychology of Balak was that it was overall MORE important to curse the Israelites than toe Bless his OWN people?

What does the Torah tell us about life in general? The first lesson the Torah teaches us is: It is more important for the Anti-Semite to do harm to the Jews than it is for him to obtain his own success. We will BEH explore this further on a series of posts
Shabbat Shalom,
Background Information:

Dictionary: schadenfreude (shäd'n-froi'də) n.
Pleasure derived from the misfortunes of others.[German : Schaden, damage (from Middle High German schade, from Old High German scado) + Freude, joy (from Middle High German vreude, from Old High German

Word Overheard: schadenfreude
Columnist George Will, who seems to enjoy the seven deadly sins almost as much as he does baseball, decided to add a pleasurable eighth — schadenfreude. "Sins can be such fun. Of the seven supposedly deadly ones, only envy does not give the sinner at least momentary pleasure. And an eighth, schadenfreude — enjoyment of other persons' misfortunes — is almost the national pastime."
Link: The economics of baseball — George Will
Posted October 15, 2006

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Blessings and curses are opposite sides of the same coin. A is fighting B. He arranges for B to be cursed. B's curse is, by default, A's blessing since he can now more easily win the battle.

The practical difference between blessing A and cursing B is quite simple. By cursing B, A gets to win without incurring any obligations on his part, other than payment of the cursing agency. On the other hand, had he opted for the blessing, it might have come with obligations that he wouldn't feel comfortable with. By cursing B, he avoids that.

Imagine Balak's situation now. If he gets the blessing from Bilaam, then he becomes obliged to recognize God as the true ruler of the universe instead of his idols. He probably didn't want to do that. So instead he wanted Bilaam to curse Bnei Yisrael with their own God.