Parshas Balak
Numbers 22:2 -25:9
When NO is Not Good Enough! ©
Powerful Tactics of Persuasion
By Dr. Akiva G. Belk

This study of the weekly parsha is dedicated in the loving memory of Mr. Paul Sakash, may he rest in

Story: The Rabbinical Strong Arm
It was during fall fundraising when the son of a prominent Jew stopped by just to say "Hi" to the Rosh Ha
Yeshiva {head of a boys' school and young men's seminary of Torah learning}. He and his wife were on
the way somewhere and they needed to see their son, a student at the school, for some reason. I was
standing in the general office when he stopped by.

The head of the school was known to be very persuasive. He was not one to give up easily! He was VERY
persistent! The word "NO" was not part of his vocabulary... unless he was using it!

The rabbi politely requested that the man take a list of names, termed a "phone call list," and solicit funds
for the school. The gentleman respectfully declined. The rabbi persisted! The gentleman continued to
refuse. The rabbi continued attempting to strong-arm the gentleman into soliciting the people on the list...
The gentleman continued to politely refuse. The rabbi went over, took the man by the arm and attempted
to lead him into his office while saying something to the effect, "We can call them together right now from
my office..."

The gentleman shook off the rabbi's attempt to lead him while responding, "Rabbi, I don't think you
understand. I am not going to call these people! I am not going to participate in the phone call solicitation
this year!"

The gentleman's wife approached the office after observing what was happening. She said something to
the effect, "Rabbi, we cannot help you this year!" Then she said to her husband, "We have to go!"

Story: I Want What I Want and Nothing Will Keep Me From It
A group of prominent men were sitting around the table discussing who would be a good candidate to
honor at a fundraising dinner. Such an honor was normally reserved ONLY for the very influential. The
candidate for this honor had to be wealthy, prominent, well known and be willing to use his influence to
raise money.

A name was mentioned. The rabbi directing the meeting sighed, saying, "He won't help us. We have
already tried."

Someone at the table questioned, "Did you approach Mr. Gold? They are good friends. He might do it if
Mr. Gold asked him."

The rabbi responded, "We asked Mr. Gold to speak with him. He turned Mr. Gold down. The rabbi
continued, "We have also approached his wife, his brother-in-law, his son and several other family
members and close friends. He said, 'NO!' He doesn't want to help us..."

The discussion continued to focus around this man. Additional attempts were planned. Eventually they also

Holy reader, this brings us to this week's parsha discussion. Parshas Balak states that King Balak sent
emissaries to the evil prophet Bilam requesting that he curse B'nei Yisroel. They offered him money for
this service. He wanted to fulfill their request however Hashem prohibited him. The Torah records, "Balak
persisted"!! Bilam's refusal was not acceptable. NO was NOT acceptable! NO was NOT good enough!

So this time Balak sent more dignitaries of greater position to persuade Bilam to do this service for him...
{Numbers 22:2-20}

Dear reader, the issue we are considering is... "When no is not good enough."

Story: Parental Pressure
There was a mother who continued to ask her adult daughter... her married daughter... her daughter of
forty plus years of age... about her husband's business. The mother wanted to know more and more about
their business. When the daughter said NO! ! that was NOT! ! good enough. The mother persisted!! She
continued to cross boundaries placed there by her daughter and son-in-law. NO meant nothing to this
mother when someone else was saying it... A serious confrontation was building. Neither the daughter nor
the son-in-law wanted this confrontation but eventually it happened!

Later in a phone conversation the son-in-law gently but firmly explained to his mother-in-law that she
would have to stop badgering his wife and him with questions that they did not care to answer. Essentially
they haven't spoken since.

Dear reader, sometimes it comes down to this with people who do not respect boundaries. Sometimes the
only protection one has is isolation from... separation from those who refuse to accept NO as being final.
This is not the course of choice, yet what can one do when time after time a relative, a neighbor, a fellow
worker or a religious leader continues crossing boundary after boundary? This is when NO is Not good
enough. That is too bad! That is unfortunate!

I have experienced frequent home visits... phone calls... letters... literature from Christians / Messianics who
did NOT understand NO!

Holy readers, there are people in this world who don't understand the meaning of the word NO! There are
people who believe that persistence pays off. There are people who specialize in wearing their opponents
down. There are people who strongly believe in the power of tactics of persuasion. Sometimes the only
way one can have any peace is to simply isolate from those with persistent, aggressive behavioral
problems!! It is a very sad shame that there are people in this world who KNOW that they can and will
win just by refusing to accept no. Sales course after sales course teaches how to NOT accept NO for an
answer. Tactic after tactic is taught to the persistent with one goal in mind. Win, baby, win!!

So what does one do when NO is not enough? Sometimes there is nothing that one can do other than cry
out to G-d for help! Then there are times when simply not opening the door... not answering the phone is
the best method! There are times when politely ending a conversation works well. Sometimes just walking
away also works.

Dear reader, if our opponent is determined to wear us down because they are persistent, because they
believe they will eventually win through persistence, then we in response to their inappropriate behavior
isolate from them. We don't visit them anymore... We find another friend... We replace them with
someone or something else... We learn that dealing with them is worse than dealing with isolation... Isn't
that sad?! Isn't it unfortunate that such actions are necessary simply because someone will not accept NO
as being final...?

Chassidim, I pray that we will observe the meaning of NO and respect the rights of others when we do not
agree with their decision.

Good Shabbos!

Dr. Akiva G. Belk

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