Bilam is one of the most enigmatic characters in Tanach (the written Bible). He was hired by the Midianite King Balak to curse the Israelites, to avert what Balak feared was an impending attack. What was Bilam’s purpose in the story? Morevoer, why does the Torah go into such detail – an entire sidra - about an event that the Jewish people were never really aware of? And why did Bilam fail?
Whenever we look to achieve anything in the mundane areas of our life, such as our health, safety and wealth, Judaism asks us to consider the trait of bitachon – ‘trust in G-d’. Bitachon allows us to refrain from some of our striving, in recognition of Divine providence – we trust G-d! Sometimes we can be so convinced that only our efforts count, that we completely lose track of this trait. At this point we start to view ourselves as the final arbiters of our destiny – effectively we become our own gods.