פ’ בלק תשע”ח
Volume 24, Issue 8
INSIGHTS from the SEDRA
Insights from the Sedra is a project of the Scholars’ Kollel of Great Neck. It aims to provide several questions and answers about the Sedra, culled from various commentaries, including the following: Baal Haturim, Darash Moshe, Vedebarta Bam by Rabbi Moshe Bogomilsky, Torah Treasures by Dov Furer, Wellsprings of Torah by Alexander Friedman, and Kol Dodi by Rabbi Dovid Feinstein, Great Torah Lights by Rabbi Yitzchak Meir Goodman, Something To Say by Dov Wasserman, The Vilna Gaon, and Growth Through Torah by Zelig Pliskin.
וירא בלק בן צפור את כל אשר עשה ישראל לאמרי
“And Balak son of Tzipor saw all that Yisrael had done to the Amorites…” (22:2)
At the end of Parshat Chukat, the Torah tells us of two great victories for the Jewish people: the victory over Sichon, King of the Amorites, and the victory over Og, King of Bashan. Why then does the Torah note at the beginning of Parshat Balak, that Balak feared what Bnei Yisrael did to the Amorites and does not mention Balak’s fear of their victory over Bashan?
Chazal explain that wherever it is written in the Torah Yisrael, in the singular form, it alludes to the fact that Bnei Yisrael were united as one entity and one force (i.e., And Yisrael camped there opposite the mountain – Chazal interpret this as “As one man with one heart.”)
When referring to Bnei Yisrael’s war with Og, it is written: “And they hit him and all sons and all his people” – in the plural. On the other hand, with the war against Sichon, it is written: “And Yisrael smote them” – in the singular. The Torah emphasizes that the war against Sichon was waged in unity and it was this unity that Balak feared, as it is written: ויגר מואב מפני העם מאוד כי רב הוא – It does not state כי רבים הם (in the plural) but rather כי רב הוא (in the singular). (Torah Gems)
ותלחץ את רגל בלעם את הקיר
“And it pressed Bilaam’s leg against the wall.” (22:25)
QUESTION: Why did Hashem make him injure his foot specifically?
ANSWER: There is a saying, “Sheker ein lo raglayim”, falsehood has no feet, which means that lies cannot stand up for long. Eventually truth prevails and lies dissipate. Bilaam was permeated with falsehood. His attitudes, based on lust for glory and money, so blinded him that he thought he could even deceive Hashem. Therefore Hashem caused the donkey to injure his foot as a message that his attempts to hurt the Jewish people would be short-lived.
In Hebrew the word for falsehood is “sheker”, שקר and truth is “emet”, אמת. Emet is spelled with a “א”, a “מ”, and a “ת”, each of which stand on two feet. On the other hand, the letters “ש”, and “ר” have only one foot, and the letter “ק” has one foot longer than the other, which makes it imbalanced. Truth stands firmly on two feet and can stand forever. One may be able to stand on one foot, but not for long. “א” is the first letter of the aleph-bet, “מ” is the middle letter, and “ת” is the last letter. These three letters together spell the word “emet”, truth, because something true is true from beginning to end. (Pardes Yosef)
מי מנה עפר יעקב
“Who can count the dust of Yaakov…”(23:10)
The Jewish people are here compared (positively) to dust. Just as there are hidden treasure buried in the earth, so are there treasures of pure faith in G-d and deep love and fear of Him hidden in every Jew. These treasures may be at times hard to uncover, just as the treasures buried in the earth are often buried deep below the surface. But they are there, nonetheless, and with sufficient effort they can be revealed. (Likutei Sichot)
וירא פינחס בן אלעזר בן אהרן הכהן ויקם מתוך העדה ויקח רמח בידו
“Pinchas, son of Elazar, son of Aharon HaKohen, saw and he stood up from among the assembly and took a spear in his hand.” (25:7)
QUESTION: Why didn’t Moshe or Elazar take action?
ANSWER: When Zimri decided to commit an act of adultery with Kazbi, he brazenly confronted Moshe and asked, “Is she forbidden or permitted? If you say she is forbidden, who permitted you to marry the daughter of a Midianite?”
When one is “nogea badavar” – “an interested party” – he may not rule in the matter since his decisions may be motivated by personal interest. Consequently, Moshe did not take action against Zimri. For the same reason, Elazar, too, who was married to the daughters of Putiel (Yitro – see Shemot 25:6) did not take any action.
Though Pinchas was the son of Elazar, and if his father married a woman who was forbidden, it would make him a challal – disqualified Kohen, he did not hesitate to act, because Hashem declared him a Kohen only after killing Zimri. Hence, at that time he could absolutely not be accused of any conflict of interest. (Vedebarta Bam)
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