Parshat Balak 5775: Arrogance and Bias and the Modern-Day Bila’ams Within

Shalom Friends;

This week, our Parshat HaShevua Balak is being sponsored by Dov & Bracha Moses of Ramat Beit Shemesh for a Refuah Shlaima to Bracha’s sister, Yehudit bat Chaya Perel and to her Mother, Chaya Perel bat Rifka. To the Moses family, many thanks for your sponsorship and continued kindness.

You can celebrate a Simcha — a birth, a Bar/Bat Mitzvah, a Chassuna or other Simcha event in your life, or commemorate a Yahrtzeit of a loved one, or for whatever other reason by sponsoring (or as the case may be, co-sponsoring) a Parshat HaShevua.

Please forward to your relatives and friends and encourage them to sponsor a Parshat HaShevua. And please be in contact with me with any questions, or for further details.

Best Regards,

Moshe Burt
skype: mark.burt3

Parshat Balak 5775: The Arrogance and Bias and the Modern-Day Bila’ams Within

by Moshe Burt

Our Parshat informs us that as Bila’am traveled on his donkey to meet Balak, three times a moloch (angel) blocked the donkey’s way, and three times Bila’am struck the donkey trying to force it to continue. After Bila’am’s third attack, the donkey miraculously spoke.

In previous divrei Torah, this author cited a vort by Shem Mishmuel (translated to English by Rabbi Zvi Belovski) pages 347-351 which discussed the significance of the sudden speech of the donkey in Torah “‘ ‘What have I done to you, that you hit me these three times.” (Bamidbar Perek 22, posuk 28)

Shem Mishmuel (translated to English by Rabbi Zvi Belovski), pages 347-351 comments:

“Hashem opened the mouth of the donkey, and it said to Bila’am, ‘What have I done to you, that you hit me these three times.'”

Perhaps Bila’am’s actions toward his donkey while enroute to meet Balak, and the resultant historical she-donkey’s monologue and rebuke of him might have been the inspiration behind a famous long-running American comedy series. It was back in the days when American TV was still clean, slapstick and somewhat pure. You know the one:

Hello, I’m Mr. Ed!

A horse is a horse, of course, of course,
and nobody talks to a horse of course,
that is of course unless the horse is the famous Mr. Ed.

There are many lessons that we draw from this sudden chain of events; Bila’am’s arrogance, his bias against Am Yisrael which drove him, even when his donkey’s path was blocked, and his deliberate attempts to circumvent and override the Will of Hashem in attempting to curse Am Yisrael. In the incident with his donkey, Bila’am was unable to see or perceive the obstacle, the moloch, which stood in the way of the donkey’s path. There is a profound lesson here for us today as the media, intelligencia, academia and political elites attempt to subvert the masses, create biases among the various sectors of Am Yisrael and orchestrate actions by successive Israeli governments such as to jeopardize the nation’s security and sovereignty.

Rabbi Zelig Pliskin, in his sefer “Growth Through Torah” (pages 350-352) presents two crucial points for us to learn and internalize from the incident of Bila’am and his donkey and his attempts to curse the Jewish people. On the first point, R’ Pliskin cites Rabbi Chayim Shmuelevitz:

…Any unbiased person who heard that the Almighty said not to go with the messengers [Balak’s] would understand that the Almighty did not want Bila’am to curse the Jewish people. We see here the power of bias to blind a person from seeing what the unbiased person could see.

What did Bila’am report back to the messengers of Balak? That the Almighty considered him so distinguished that He would not allow him to go with them. It is quite possible that Bila’am did not merely lie to them. Rather his own arrogance led him to fool himself about what he thought were the Almighty’s intentions.

On the second point, R’ Pliskin cites Talmud (Makos 10b);

…The Almighty told Bila’am not to go with Balak’s messengers who requested that he accompany them to curse the Jewish people. From here, the Talmud derives the principle, “In the way a man wishes to go, he is led.”

If a person wants to do evil, he will be able to do so. But he will pay a heavy price for the completion of his evil wishes…. When you wish to travel along a certain path in life, you will be divinely assisted.

The existence of the moloch blocking the way was not visible to Bila’am, as it was to his donkey. But in our times, that so many of Am Yisrael could overlook or have selective amnesia regarding history, even obvious recurring contemporary history, regarding South Lebanon and Hezbollah, Gaza and Hamas, the so-called “PA” (read PLO, Fatah), Iran and their nuclear designs as well as outside money-fueled propaganda confounds the mind. And that bias among Jews, particularly against their fellow Jews who populate Our Biblical historical land in Yehuda and the Shomron (Judea and Samaria), land legally acquired in the Six Day War — a mandatory defensive war for Jewish survival, is perilous to the nation and equally confounding.

May we, the B’nai Yisrael be zocha that our brethren — the refugee families from Gush Katif be permanently settled and be made totally whole — be totally restituted for all that was stolen from them at leftist-agendized, supreme court legalized gunpoint, that our dear brethren Jonathan Pollard and Sholom Rubashkin as well as the MIAs be liberated alive and returned to us in ways befitting Al Kiddush Hashem. May we have the courage and strength to stand up and physically prevent the possibility of Chas V’Challila any future eviction of Jews from their homes and the handing of Jewish land over to anyone, let alone to enemies sworn to Israel’s and Judaism’s destruction and eradication. May we fulfill Hashem’s blueprint of B’nai Yisrael as a Unique people — an Am Segula, not to be reckoned with as with “the nations” and may we be zocha to see the Moshiach, the Ge’ula Shlaima, as Dov Shurin sings; “Ki Karov Yom Hashem V’Kol HaGoyim”, the Ultimate Redemption, bimhayrah b’yamainu — speedily, in our time”, — Achshav, Chik Chuk, Miyad, Etmol!!!

Good Shabbos!
Moshe Burt, an Oleh, is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.

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