Balak: Dwelling Alone, Together

Broadcasting the message of Torah to the world.

Aloh Naaleh,

Judaism aliyah-r.jpg
Arutz 7
When Bilaam blesses B'nei Yisrael, he opens with the following words of praise: "For from the peak of rocks I see him, and from the hills I behold him: it is a people that shall dwell alone, and shall not be reckoned among the nations. ...Let me die the death of the righteous and let my end be like his."

Bilaam serves as the paradigm of the non-Jew who sees the Jewish people in their ideal state and yearns to be like them. Later, he utters his famous praise, "How goodly are your tents, Yaacov; your dwellings, Yisrael." From Bilaam's perspective, the Jewish people have erected a perfect society, which - at least in that moment - he yearns to join.

Commenting on the words am levadad yishkon - "a people that shall dwell alone," the Baal HaTurim points out
From Bilaam's perspective, the Jewish people have erected a perfect society.
that there are seven "crowns" on the letter shin in the word yishkon, symbolizing the seven nations in whose land Yisrael will dwell; and that the word levadad is the numerical equivalent of forty, to teach that Yisrael will dwell in the Land of Israel, which is a forty day journey by foot.

What is the Baal HaTurim's point? After all, Bilaam saw the Jewish people in the desert, not in their land. What is meant by these two symbols?

I believe that the seven crowns, symbolizing the seven nations, also symbolize the paganism which must be destroyed. The "forty days journey" refers to the Torah given to Moshe after forty days on Mount Sinai.

Only in our own land can we rid ourselves of dangerous foreign influences and fully commit ourselves to Torah. The Baal HaTurim is teaching us about our ability to broadcast the message of Torah to the world. Many people think that we can best be a light unto the nations by living among them. This is a mistake. The goal of the Torah is the creation not merely of perfect people, but of a perfect society. This is only possible when we have our own land.

Every religion and society has its holy men and places of worship. Our special task is to create an entire society - a government, an army, an economy, etc. - that is devoted to Torah values. Only then will the nations look to us as an example and yearn to emulate our society

"On that day HaShem will be one and His name will be one."
Rabbi Pesach Wolicki is the Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivat Yesodei HaTorah.

The foregoing article was distributed by the Aloh Naaleh organization.