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by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

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Ch. 22, v. 2: "Eis kol asher ossoh Yisroel loEmori" - All that Yisroel did to the Emorites - The verse does not say "that BNEI Yisroel did to the Emorites." Yisroel refers to our Patriarch Yisroel. Bolok saw in his history books that Yisroel overpowered the Emorites, "asher lokachti miyad hoEmori," with "charbi v'kashti," my sword and my bow (Breishis 48:22). This is interpreted by Targum Onkelos to mean "with my prayers and my entreaties." Since Yisroel's power is through prayer, Bolok likewise pursued the path of finding a prophet who could ch"v overpower the bnei Yisroel with the power of his mouth. (Kli Yokor)

Ch. 22, v. 2: "Va'yogor Moav mipnei ho'om ki rav hu" - And Moav feared the nation because it was large - Although the bnei Yisroel were commanded to not incite Moav (Dvorim 2:9), the Moabites nevertheless feared being attacked by the AM, a term used for the lower people, the "eirev rav." They very likely might not follow Hashem's dictates. Moav did not fear the bnei Yisroel, those who were true descendants of Yisroel. They only despised them because of their exalted spiritual stature. (Chasam Sofer)

Perhaps we have a new insight into "ki rav hu." Since Moav specifically feared the "eirev rav," we can say that they feared them, as they were many. Targum Yonoson ben Uziel on Shmos 12:38) says that 2,400,000 "eirev rav" left Egypt with the bnei Yisroel, while there were only 600,000 actual bnei Yisroel.

Ch. 22, v. 4: "Kilchoch hashor es yerek haso'deh" - As an ox licks up the vegetation of the field - As just mentioned, the bnei Yisroel were told to not incite Moav. The Ramban explains that in spite of this the Moabites feared that they would be overpowered by another nation and then the bnei Yisroel would be free to do war with the other nation, and upon emerging victorious they would become masters over the Moabites.

According to the Ramban we can now understand in depth the comparison to an ox eating grass. The Kabalists write that of the four levels of creations, inanimate, plant life, animal life, and man, each of the top three elevate the level below it. Plants absorb nutrients and minerals from the earth. Herbivores animals eat plants, and man eats animals. Just as an ox eats grass and eventually the ox is eaten by man, so too, Moav feared that they would be "eaten" by another nation, and in turn that nation would be "eaten" by the bnei Yisroel. (Kedushas Levi)

Ch. 22, v. 4: "U'Volok ben Tzipor melech lMoav bo'eis ha'hee" - And Bolok the son of Tzipor was king of Moav at that time - This is another reason for the Moabites fearing that the bnei Yisroel might attack them even though they were told to not do so, as mentioned earlier. Since Bolok, a Midyanite, was their king, perhaps the whole nation changed its identity, and were no longer considered Moabites, but rather Midyanites, being drawn after their present king. (Kli Yokor)

Ch. 22, v. 5: "Hi'nei am yotzo miMitzrayim" - Behold a nation has left Egypt - These words were a barb aimed at Bilom. The gemara Sotoh 11a relates that Paroh had three men with whom he took counsel to deal with the "Jewish problem." They were Bilom, Yisro, and Iyov. Bolok intimated, "In spite of all your ideas the bnei Yisroel successfully beat the stuffings out of Egypt and left as a large powerful nation. I hope you will do a better job this time." (Ohr Hachaim Hakodosh)

Ch. 22, v. 9: "Va'yovo Elokim el Bilom" - And Elokim came to Bilom - At first glance it seems that Hashem accorded Bilom even greater honour than He did To Moshe. Moshe would have to come to Ohel Mo'eid to hear the word of Hashem while Bilom merited to have a house call from Hashem. The Holy Zohar answers that this indicates the exact opposite. He gives a parable. The king needed to communicate with a highly placed official. He called for him and allowed him into his palace. Another time the king needed to speak with a leper. Rather than have the leper enter his palace and contaminate it, the king went to the leper.

Ch. 22, v. 12: "Lo seileich imohem lo so'ore es ho'om" - Do not go with them do not curse the nation - If Hashem told Bilom to not curse the bnei Yisroel, why did He command him to also not go along with Bolok's agents? This was so that Bilom not lay his negative eye upon the bnei Yisroel. The gemara Brochos 58a relates that someone looked upon another in a negative manner and destroyed him. (Sforno)

Ch. 22, v. 18: "M'lo veiso kesef v'zohov" - His house full of silver and gold - Rashi derives from these words that Bilom lusted money. How is this conclusive? Perhaps we see the exact opposite, that Bilom so strongly cared to fulfill the wishes of Hashem that even if offered great wealth he could not be swayed. Since Bilom mentioned silver and gold, items that Bolok did not specify, as he only said, "Ki cha'beid acha'bedcho m'ode." (Torah T'mimoh)

Ch. 22, v. 22: "Va'yichar af Hashem ki holeich hu" - And Hashem was angered because he went - All ask, "Didn't Hashem give Bilom permission to go with Bolok's agents in verse 20?" Rashi says that every day Hashem is angered for a moment. Bilom wanted to cash in on this moment and curse the bnei Yisroel just then. What indeed came of this "moment" on the day Bilom went to curse the bnei Yisroel? We know that a person's ability to concentrate is lessened when he is traveling. For example, the Maharsh"a writes that he did not write his "chidushei halochos" when he traveled to the fair. This is the intention of "Va'yichar af Hashem ki holeich hu." Do not translate "ki" as "because," but rather, as "when." Hashem displayed His anger WHEN Bilom was traveling and unable to properly use his powers to curse the bnei Yisroel. The earlier question is thus simply answered. (Rabbi Shmuel Alter)

Ch. 22, v. 22: "Ushnei n'orov imo" - And his two youths were with him - This explains why he was unable to see the angel. The gemara Brochos 43b says that when three people are together, when an angel approaches them they cannot see it, nor can it harm them. (Sforno)

Perhaps we can explain verse 33 accordingly. The angel says, "Ulai notsoh miponai ki atoh gam os'cho horagti." Had the donkey turned away from me and gone away quickly, the two youths would have been left behind, while Bilom would still have remained on the donkey, alone. Once he would be alone the angel could have caused him harm, even possibly killing him. (Bilom's ability to see the angel while still being one of three people present seems to be an anomaly, as the verse says "Va'y'gal Hashem es einei Vilom (verse 31)," requiring a special act of Hashem.)

Ch. 22, v. 28: "Va'yiftach Hashem es pi ho'osone" - And Hashem opened the mouth of the donkey - What a powerful message to Bilom while on his way to curse the bnei Yisroel. Just as a donkey cannot speak and only did so by Hashem's placing words into its mouth, so too Bilom will have no control over what he says regarding the welfare of the bnei Yisroel. (Kli Yokor)



See also Oroh V'Simchoh - Meshech Chochmoh on the Weekly Parsha and Chasidic Insights

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