This Week’s Parsha – Balak:
And now on to the parsha: The first passuk/verse in the parsha is: ‘Vayar Balak ben Tzippor, eis kol asher asah Yisroel laEmori/And Balak son of Tzippor saw all that Israel did to the Emori.’ First, Rashi quotes from Midrash Tanchuma, which explains that Balak was really scared because the Jews had just beaten the giants, Sichon and Og, whom he and his nation relied on, so, all the more so, if the Jews attacked him and his nation, they would obviously beat them.
Also on this verse, the Trisker Maggid (Rebbe Avraham of Trisk zt"l) asks; what exactly does Emori mean? True, it means the nation of the Emorim, but it can also come from the word ‘emor’ which means ‘to say’. Thus, we can translate this verse like this: ‘And Balak son of Tzippor saw all that Israel had done to saying things’, i.e. to speech. This teaches us that a big power of the Jewish People is their speech. We can Daven to Hashem, speak words of Torah, etc.1 We need to concentrate on using our speech for good things, and we need to appreciate the great power of speech. After all, the only creature to whom Hashem really gave the ability to talk was a person. It is a precious gift that must be used the right way. Back to the parsha: The Torah discusses the fact that the nation of Moav was very afraid of the Jews, because they were very numerous. But, the Chassidishe Masters point out that there is something that does not seem to look right in this passuk/verse. When talking about how numerous the Jews were, the Torah says ‘Ki rav hu/Because they were numerous’. ‘Rav hu’ is in the singular, as if talking about one person, they explain, when it looks like, since the Torah is talking about the entire Jewish People, it should be in the plural form, ‘Ki rabim heim’! So they explain beautifully that, the Torah is telling us that the entire Jewish People was like one person – all together with Achdus/togetherness and ‘brotherly love’ (thus the singular form), and that is what Moav was afraid of!2 The Jews were all working together, and that is likely more dangerous to fight against than a very large nation that is not together. We must work on having Achdus/togetherness and brotherly love today, as, unfortunately, we have not had as much nowadays, and we need to work on this. Back to the parsha: The Moavim were very afraid that the Jews would annihilate them, so Balak sent messengers to Bilaam, telling him about how the Jews covered the ‘eye’ of the land, i.e. they had a lot of people. And he wanted Bilaam to curse them, because they were mightier than him and his nation, and he was hoping that if Bilaam cursed the Jews, then he and the Moavim would be able to wage war on them, and drive them away. The elders of Moav and Midian went to Bilaam and delivered the message which Balak had said. Bilaam told them to stay with him for the night, and he would tell them if he could curse the Jews after Hashem spoke to him. Now, Bilaam was a prophet, meaning that Hashem spoke to him.
Just a final commentary for this parsha report: The Chassidishe Masters note that the Gematria/numerical value of the Hebrew word used here for ‘spear’ – רמח, is 248. This corresponds, they say, to the 248 limbs a person has in their body. So what does this teach us? It teaches us, they explain beautifully, that a person must use all of their 248 limbs for Hashem, just like Pinchas went and fearlessly killed the people doing the bad thing in public, for Hashem.6 We must take this message to heart, B’Eizer Hashem/with the Help of Hashem. May Hashem help everyone to do this, Amein, so may it be His Will.
Have a great Shabbos!
1 TorahAnytime.com©. 'Chassidic Gems on Parshas Balak'. Shiur given by HaRav Elyakim Rosenblatt shlita. Also, YUTorah Online.com. 'Parshas Balak 5776: Balak's Biggest Fear: A Jewish Teffilah'. Shiur given by Ari Mirzoeff shlita.
2 TorahAnytime.com©. 'Chassidic Gems on Parshas Balak'. Shiur given by HaRav Elyakim Rosenblatt shlita.
3 TorahAnytime.com©. 'Pre-Slichot D'rasha'. Shiur given by HaRav Noach Isaac Oelbaum shlita.
4 Bircas.org - Yeshiva Bircas HaTorah. 'Parshas Balak 5775'.
5 Yioceanside.org. 'Musings on Parshat Balak (1/1)'. By Rabbi H.L. Berenholz shlita.6 TorahAnytime.com©. 'Chassidic Gems on Parshas Balak'. Shiur given by HaRav Elyakim Rosenblatt shlita.