The Torah tells us about Balak’s attempt to get Bilam to curse the Jews. It seems as if HaKadosh Baruch Hu is concerned about the curse which Bilam may utter. Hashem tries to persuade Bilam not to go, and even when Hashem lets him go with Balak’s messengers, Bilam is warned “Don’t curse the Jews; just bless them.” Why is HaKadosh Baruch Hu—the “superpower” who can run the world without any interference—concerned about a curse from Bilam? Bilam can curse and HaKadosh Baruch Hu can nullify the curse immediately! So why was HaKadosh Baruch Hu concerned?

I heard once a medrash that when Hashem created the Malach Hameves (the Angel of Death), the Angel complained “People will curse me and hate me because I bring them distress and grief.” To this HaKadosh Baruch Hu responded “You have nothing to fear, for when a person will die there is always a reason. A person dies because of old age; or because he drove carelessly and got into a collision; or because he ate unhealthy foods and didn’t exercise—there is always a cause, and people will not blame you (the Malach Hameves) at all! They will find other justifications to explain away this death.” I find this very interesting. Though we all “know” that a person only dies because Hashem wills it, yet we comfort ourselves by finding something to rationalize the unfortunate situation, and by doing so we make ourselves immune to the threat of tragedy by explaining away the real reason to ourselves.

There is no question that Hashem could nullify the curse of Bilam. However, that would not be enough, for the curse could still cause “damage” by limiting HaKadosh Baruch Hu’s ability to communicate with His people.

Let’s say that Bilam cursed the Jews and Hashem nullified the curse. The next day, Reuven does something improper, perhaps speaking loshen hara. Sometime after that, he gets shocked by a snake that almost bites him. Reuven will, unfortunately, attribute the near miss with the snake to the curse that the rasha gave the Jews. But that is not the message that Hashem wanted him to hear. Instead, HaKadosh Baruch Hu wanted him to attribute this bad incident to the loshen hara that he spoke, and take the near-miss as a message to do teshuva!

People have a tendency to find excuses for all the negative things that happen to them. The lesson we must take from Bilam’s story is to always remember that if something happens to us it comes from HaKadosh Baruch Hu alone. Not even the curse of a successful prophet can affect us if we don’t deserve it.

(Based on a Chidah)