"There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is ways of death." (Mishlei 14.12)
We hear everywhere, every day - "a war for hearts and minds." It means that both your heart and your mind - both your corporeal and your spiritual self - are being wooed away from your Creator by the Satan and his minions, whoever they may be and wherever they may be found.
But, difficult as that is, there is still another aspect of it and that is the battle that's going on between your heart and your mind - the battle of mind over emotion - and in this generation the mind is losing badly.
We are fortunate above all people because we have The Law. We are not left moorless in the ocean of emotion that leads other peoples astray. We are not left leaderless and guideless to determine by our own inadequate feelings what is right and what is wrong. We are not left alone in a hefker world where everyone has his own "truth" and his own "path" to some amorphous god. We have The Law or more precisely The Instruction Manual for Life given by the Creator of the World and it tells us everything we need to know to live a successful and directed life.
In a directed world, the highest value is Truth. In a "hefker" world (and I put it in quotes because while that is it's appearance, it is far from the reality), Personal Happiness is the highest value and the measure by which every action is judged. In the directed world, mind rules over emotion and in the hefker world, emotion rules. Each person is free to and must do whatever "feels" right to him/her.
But, know, however, that the mind is no more reliable than the heart unless it is rooted in the Holy Law - the Torah of Hashem. That is how we have seen in this past week, the Law of the Land of Eisav become enslaved and subservient to the debased heart of mankind.
Last week, we read in Parshat Chukat about the most mysterious law in the Book of the Law - the ashes of the red heifer, while contaminating all who prepare it, purifies those on whom it is sprinkled. Even the wise Shlomo HaMelekh reportedly could not fathom it. And we learn from this law that we obey whether it feels right to us or not - the mind must rule the heart. This week, in Parshat Balak, we read the opposite. This week we see the words of Shlomo Hamelekh from Mishlei come alive before our eyes as Zimri allows his heart to take over and it leads not only to his own death, but also to the deaths of 24,000 of his fellow Jews.
We have to do teshuvah every single day - examining our actions, their motivations, any errors that were made that need correcting. Today, when you sit down to finish the books at the end of the day, check to see which one is controlling your decisions - your mind or your heart.
"The heart is deceitful above all..." (Yirmiyahu 17.9)