VOLUME 101 NUMBER 7
Tamuz 16, 5782
July 15, 2022
Candlelighting Time 8:04 PM
Balak and Bilaam teamed up to, Heaven forbid, destroy the Jewish nation. Bilaam, although he merited the gift of prophecy, he abused his power and utilized his talent for evil purposes. Balak employed Bilaam and desired that he should use his unique capacity of cursing to eliminate the Jewish people. Was it truly possible that he could really curse us and we would suffer from that? Rashi does explain that Hashem actually placed a fishhook in his mouth and prevented him from expressing his expletives that would have been harmful to us!
It is interesting to note that whenever Bilaam attempted to curse us he only viewed part of the nation and did not see the entire camp of Israel. Why was this the protocol followed by Balak and Bilaam? Rav Shlomo Kluger explains that they both realized that Hashem would not allow the entire nation to be harmed and certainly not destroyed. This is evident from the Torah stating that when we are in exile Hashem will not purge us and permit our enemies to impair or annihilate us. However, they reasoned that perhaps they could somewhat damage part of the nation although not the entire people. Therefore, this was their modus operandi, to attack a portion of the nation. However, Hashem protected us and did not allow even that to happen.
At the end, Bilaam ascended to the heights surrounding the camp and viewed the nation in its entirety. At that point, the Torah states that when he saw the entire nation, the spirit of Hashem rested upon him. Rashi comments that he now intended not to curse them any longer, rather to only bestow blessing upon the people. Rav Kluger questions why the Torah needed to state that Hashem’s spirit now rested upon Bilaam. He answers that the Midrash comments that since Bilaam engaged in his mission to eliminate the Jewish people, he forfeited his prophetic ability and was reduced to a modest sorcerer. Even though he retained his ability to curse, but his superior prophetic capabilities were lessened. However, now when he observed the majestic panorama of the nation, he was dazed with the unparalleled grandeur and splendor of the Jewish nation. At that point he realized that we were protected under the auspices of Hashem’s immensity and magnitude and therefore he was incapable of harming us in any way.
Perhaps this is the greatest lesson that we can garner from this terrifying episode. The need for the latest armaments or high-tech weapons may not be the approach that we, as a people protected by Hashem, need to follow. When we assume our place amongst the nations as a member nation based upon the regular protocol that governs the rest of the world, then we are subject to the guidelines that regulate the rest of the world, namely our ability to protect ourselves with our own means. However, when we cast our eyes heavenward and realize that we have survived so many trying and difficult situations which would have and did destroy other powerful and mighty civilizations, we are led to the conclusion that it is only because Hashem watches over us that we are here today and others are gone.
BYTE FOR SHABBOS
Bilaam in his blessing mentioned the brooks that flow. The Talmud understands this to be a metaphor that just as the water of the brooks flow and immersion in those waters purify, so too, the waters of the Torah elevate one and enhance his dimension in this world. Our speech should be utilized to elevate our lives and we need to avoid using our speech incorrectly. CHOFETZ CHAIM