Parsha Balak: The Ba’al Peor and It’s Parallel in Modern B’nai Yisrael …

Parsha Balak: The Ba’al Peor and It’s Parallel in Modern B’nai Yisrael

By Moshe Burt

Shem Mishmuel brings a Rashi which discusses the unusual loshen — regalim (the word usually used to denote festivals) used in our Parsha Balak where Hashem brings the donkey to speak to Bila’am expressing; “What have I done to you, that you hit me these three times.” [1]

Shem Mishmuel brings Rashi quoting Chazal which notes: “These three times — it was a hint that he wanted to uproot the Jewish nation, who celebrate three pilgrim festivals each year.” [2]

Shem Mishmuel then states that the Arizal adapts the idea of the three festivals to suggest that “Bila’am’s intention was not to destroy the nation in it’s entirety, but to eliminate from it the observance of the three festivals.” [3] The question is asked why our adversary Bila’am would desire to eradicate the observance of this mitzvah more than any other?

He then brings a Mishnah which teaches, “Those who have an evil eye, an arrogant spirit and an insatiable soul are pupils of the wicked Bila’am.” [4]

He then adds that the above Mishnah corresponds to another Mishnah where Rabbi Elazar HaKappar says, “Jealousy, lust and the desire for honor remove a man from the world.” [5]

In the context of contemporary Jewish history in Eretz Yisrael, #5, “Jealousy, lust and the desire for honor remove a man from the world”
seems highly pertinent, particularly the lust part.

Balak, the King of Moav recognizes that the Jews cannot be defeated in a conventional war, their Divine protection is too great.

So he calls upon the wicked, greedy Bilaam with confidence that Bilaam’s insight as to how and when to curse the Jews will turn the trick and compel their Protector to withdraw protection from B’nai Yisrael.

We learn that Hashem accedes to Bilaam’s desire to travel to Balak, but with this caveat; that he speak only as Hashem orders. And so, from whatever angle Bilaam views the B’nai Yisrael, while he wants to curse them, he is compelled by Hashem’s words to bless them.

But before Bilaam takes leave of Balak, seemingly humbled and defeated, he provides one piece of insight to Balak as to how to form a wedge, a wall between the B’nai Yisrael separating them from their Divine Protector.

He imparts to Balak a plan for the Moabite women to seduce Jewish men,
through their allures, to the avodah zora — the Ba’al Peor. And so, we learn that as the B’nai Yisrael encamped at Shittim, many of the B’nai Yisrael submitted to the seductions. We learn the story of Zimri, the prince of Shavet Shimon and the most prominent individual to take part in this act of physical lust, who cohabited with the Midianite Kosbi, daughter of Tzur. We learn, as related by R’Rafael Katzenelbogen regarding words of R’ Sonnenfeld; that Zimri’s distorted sense of “acting for the sake of Shemayim” evolved from a “… novel, misleading ideology, that evil must be tolerated by incorporating it into the Camp of Israel, to dissuade the lustful man from finding himself in the camp of idolaters.” (Studies in the Weekly Parsha, by Yehuda Nachshoni, Parsha Balak, page 1115.)

It is this same wrong, misplaced Israeli “tolerance” which says that Arabs can kill and maim Jewish non-combatants with immunity. But when an accidental inadvertent IDF missile hits the civilians which cowardly Islamic terrorist “freedom fighters” hide behind, it causes a worldwide furor. In other words, this same distorted “tolerance” of a Zimri rationalizes away the fact that to the world, Jewish lives and blood are expendable.

All the while a plague was taking the lives of 24,000 Jewish men who similarly participated. And we learn the story of Pinchas who saw this sin happening on a massive scale, saw that Jews were dying and that one of the most prominent leaders was taking part. He feared for the Chillul Hashem taking place and remembered the appropriate Halacha taught by Moshe regarding circumstances where zealousness was necessary. And so we learn that after consulting with his Rebbe, Moshe Rabbeinu, Pinchas maneuvered into position and slew both Zimri and Kozbi with the same spear in one fell swoop. At that moment, in merit of Pinchas’ act, the plague ceased.

And in the merit of Pinchas’ act, we learn further in Parsha Pinchas that he is honored by Hashem in having the parsha named for him, in having the Kehuna conveyed upon him and in being granted eternal life.
Hashem silenced those politically correct who demanded that Pinchas be executed, who couldn’t see past that he murdered a leader of B’nai Yisrael, albeit that Zimri acted inappropriately for his station and in attempting to perpetuate an immense Chillul Hashem.

Our Parsha this year arrives as efforts are being enhanced to confront and hopefully, to squash and eliminate plans for a “Gay Pride Festival” in August which epitomizes and glorifies a similar type of physical lust which crosses over the “red line”, the bounds of what is appropriate, to that which is evil. And there is not even the distorted rationale of Zimri to justify such a public spectacle in our Holiest of Holy Cities. It is an abomination; it is not normal, it is not to be tolerated in the camp of the B’nai Yisrael. Lest we forget the age old adage which refers to the “land spitting out it’s inhabitants.” B’Ezrat Hashem, the precedent set by a United Jewish Camp against this abomination will set the stage for bringing a faith-based leadership to Am Yisrael and an end to equivocation, to pitting Jew against Jew for political ends.

May it be in this year and beyond, that our brethren; the refugee families from Gush Katif and the Shomron (may they soon be restored to new homes and neighborhoods, Bati Knesset, Yeshivot in Gush Katif and the Shomron and only happiness and success for all time), as well as our dear brother, Jonathan Pollard (may he soon know freedom and long life in Eretz Yisrael) be central in our thoughts, prayers, chassadim and actions. May this abominable period of history called hitnatkut be as a bad dream.

May we be zocha in this coming year to take giant steps toward fulfilling 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 the Moshiach, the Ge’ula Shlaima, “Yom Hashem V’Kol HaGoyim”, the Ultimate Redemption, bim hay v’yameinu — 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.
[1] Sefer Shem Mishmuel on Parsha Balak, page 347 quoting Rashi on Bamidbar Perek 22, posuk 28.

[2] Sefer Shem Mishmuel on Parsha Balak, Rashi, loc. cit.

[3] Sefer Shem Mishmuel on Parsha Balak, page 347 quoting the Arizal.

[4] Sefer Shem Mishmuel on Parsha Balak, page 347 quoting Pirkei Avos, Perek 5, pusuk 22.

[5] Sefer Shem Mishmuel on Parsha Balak, page 348, quoting Pirkei Avos, Perek 4, posuk 28.


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