Parshat Balak: Bilaam Exposed

I pray that every Leader in power now and rising to power in the future reads it and absorbs it into his or her Soul.

Dr. Joseph Frager,

Parshat Balak: Bilaam Exposed
Parshat Balak: Bilaam Exposed

The Medrash says that Bilaam was one of the three advisors to Pharaoh.

The other two were Yitro and Job. Bilaam called for the extermination of the Jews. Eventually, he settled for the murder of all Jewish males born since he saw via prophecy the savior of the Jews coming into being. G-d outsmarted him (G-d runs the world) and Moshe was born and lived despite the terrible decree.

After Bilaam had failed and the Jews left Egypt, he essentially was out of work. Job took the middle position (sitting on the fence when it comes to the Jews is a mistake) and suffered as a result. Yitro defended the Jews against Pharaoh and told Pharaoh in no uncertain terms do not embark on his plans against the Jews. He was asked by Pharaoh to resign. G-d rewarded him with becoming the father-in-law to Moshe Rabeinu.

This Medrash is an incredible lesson for the Ages. I pray that every Leader in power now and rising to power in the future reads it and absorbs it into his or her Soul. It is no surprise then that in Parshat Balak, Balak asked for the help of Bilaam to destroy the Jews. Balak obviously thought he himself was greater than Pharaoh. Pharaoh had failed but he would not. The ego and arrogance of a Leader knows no bounds.

The question that arises is how Bilaam who was such an evil person be granted the capacity to offer the Children of Israel eternal Blessings that stand even today. The Shem Mishmuel says that the three Brachot of Bilaam reference the Shalosh Regalim (the three holidays). In the first Bracha we read:..."behold a people which shall dwell alone and shall be considered among the nations."(23:9) This relates to Pesach when Jews were finally separated from their tormentors, the Egyptians. The second Bracha describes the the special relationship between G-d and Israel.

"Hashem his G-d is with him and the friendship of the King in him."(23:21) This relates to Shavuot and Matan Torah. The third Bracha which we say every day of our lives: "How good are your tents, Yaakov, your dwelling places, Yisrael."(24:5) This relates to the Beit Hamikdash and the Holiday of Succot. The Succah is considered a microcosm of the Holy Temple. How is it that Bilaam who was such a wicked person gave Israel some of the most beautiful blessings ever? One answer is that in each blessing which originally was intended as a curse and turned around by G-d Almighty to a Blessing still had a lingering curse embedded.

In Gemara Sanhedrin 105b, R. Yochanan said: "from the blessings of the wicked man you may learn his intentions:1)He wished to curse them that they should possess no Synagogues or Houses of Study-"How goodly are your tents, Yaakov..."2)That the divine presence should not rest upon them-"And your Tabernacles, Yisrael."etc. Rabba bar Kahana said: All of them reverted to a curse, excepting the Synagogues and Schoolhouses, for it is written (Devarim 23:6)"But Hashem your G-d turned the curse (in the singular) into a blessing for you, because Hashem your G-d loved you." The fact that it is in singular means that only one curse in the end remained a Blessing eternally. Even after Bilaam gave his "Blessings" he caused the death of 24,000 Jews by his plot to cause Israel to sin.

Rav Shimshon Pincus TZ'L says that Bilaam did not start out as a Rasha(wicked person)(everyone knows the Chazal that G-d did not want the Nations of the world to Tayna-to say that had we been given a Prophet on par with Moshe Rabeinu we too would have reached the level of piety of Bnei Yisrael). Rav Pincus TZ'L says Bilaam did not reach his level of Prophecy by being wicked.He reached his level of Nevuah before he turned to the Dark Side. Rav Pincus T'ZL says he became wicked once he saw how great a Navi(prophet) he had become. His level of Nevuah "went to his head". This is in stark contrast to Moshe Rabeinu who despite being the Greatest Navi of all time remained the humblest of men. Bilaam became infatuated with himself and took his talent and privilege in an evil direction.

One might ask how someone who is such a great Navi who communicated with G-d Almighty could be such a wicked person? The answer lies in a famous axiom brought down in Gemara Succah 52a "Kol HaGadol Mechaveiro Yitzro Gadol Heimenu." "Whoever is greater than his fellow his evil inclination is greater than his fellow's as well." Bilaam had reached a high level of Prophecy but his Yetzer Hara grew out of proportion to his Greatness and took over him.

Rav Pincus does elaborate on the underlying increased Yetzer Hara found in the "Umot Haolam" that grew tremendously as the Spirituality of Bilaam grew. He became a Rasha as a result and deserved to die for his attempts at destroying Bnei Yisrael. With Siyata D'shmaya I have completed 52 weeks of Chamisha Chumshei Torah. Thank you for your comments.

In memory to my Beloved Parents Mordechai Avraham Ben Shmuel Z'L and Malka Bat Zalman Yehuda Z'L. Special thanks to my Beloved Brother Rabbi Dr. David Frager, S"HLITA. With G-d Almighty's help , I hope to cover B"N Chamisha Chumshei Torah with additional emphasis on the Haftorot in the coming year. I look forward to your participation.

For All should know, "It is a tree of life for those who grasp it, and its supporters are praiseworthy. Its ways are ways of pleasantness and all its paths are Peace. Lengthy days are at its right, at its left are wealth and honor. Hashem desired , for the sake of Israel's righteousness, that the Torah be made Great and Glorious." Shabbat Shalom