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by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

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Ch. 22, v. 2: "Va'yar Bolok" - And Bolok saw - Did Bolok actually SEE what Yisroel did to the Emorites?

1) This mean he HEARD, just like "V'chol ho'om RO'IM es hakolos," which means that they heard. (Chizkuni)

(The gemara Shabbos 88 says that the bnei Yisroel actually SAW the sounds, a spilling over of senses.)

2) He UNDERSTOOD. (Minchoh V'luloh)

3) He SAW that the sun delayed its descent when Moshe waged war with the Emorites. "Va'yar" has the same numerical value as "nokdoh hachamoh." (Gematrios of Rabbi Yehudoh Chosid)

4) He SAW the results of the war with the Emorites and he also saw that the Moabites were walking around with a pallor of fear. (Tzror Hamor)

5) In Yehoshua the verse says, "Va'yovo Bolok va'yi'locheim b'Yisroel," and in Shoftim it says, "Hatov tov atoh miBolok ben Tzipor harove rov im Yisroel im nilchome nilcham bom." Taken literally, these verses state that Bolok waged war against the bnei Yisroel. (The verse in Shoftim seems to be questioning, meaning that Bolok did not actually engage in war with the bnei Yisroel, seemingly the exact opposite.) We can thus say that before Bolok took the mantle of kingship over Moav he was a highly placed officer in Sichon's army, and upon the death of Sichon, like a highly placed officer, he made a "va'yivrach." This coward actually saw what the bnei Yisroel did to the Emorites. (Rabbi Yehudoh Chosid) 6) We can translate "Va'yar" as "and he feared" since there is a letter Alef after the Reish. This Alef has a "mapik" sign. (Mo'ore Ho'a'feiloh)

Ch. 22, v. 3: "Va'yogor Moav" - And Moav feared - "Va'yogor" connotes a fear that is externally visible, a sort of trembling. This is a fulfillment of the words, "Eilei Moav yochazeimo ro'ad" (Shmos 15:15). Bolok was also afraid, but showed no outward signs because, as king, he had to show a stiff upper lip. (Minchoh V'luloh)

Ch. 22, v. 3: "Va'yogor Moav mipnei ho'om" - And Moav feared the nation - Why was Moav afraid? The Torah says, "Al totzer es Moav v'al tisgor bom milchomoh" (Dvorim 2:9). This includes a prohibition against any sort of hostilities.

1) They were afraid of the "eirev rav" who might not comply. The Holy Zohar says that "am" refers to the "eirev rav." 2) They were only afraid of the bnei Yisroel attacking Bolok, who was a Midyanite. (Riv"o)

3) When the Moabites saw that the bnei Yisroel did not give them back their property that they captured from Sichon, they felt that the bnei Yisroel did not comply with this prohibition. They were not aware that the bnei Yisroel rightfully kept the spoils of war through Sichon's first gaining ownership of all the Moabites possessions through war. The bnei Yisroel kept these goods as former property of the Emorites. (Chizkuni)

4) The verse in Dvorim 2:9 only is a prohibition to not show hostilities of any sort, but if the Moabite property falls under the bnei Yisroel's hand they may keep it. Therefore the Moabites collected all their chattel into their cities. The word "va'yogor" also means "and they collected." (Rabbeinu Efrayim)

5) Maybe the Moabites were not knowledgeable of this prohibition. (Nirreh li)

Ch. 22, v. 12: "Lo seileich imohem lo so'ore es ho'om" - Do not go with them do not curse the nation - Not only should you not curse them, but you should not even go along with them to gaze upon the bnei Yisroel and cast an evil eye upon them. (Sforno)

It would seem that this insight would be more readily understood if the order would be switched, to first prohibit cursing them and then to even prohibit Bilom to go along.

Ch. 22, v. 28: "Va'yiftach Hashem es pi ho'osone" - And Hashem opened the mouth of the donkey - The lesson here might be that Bilom held himself in very high esteem because he was an expert in timing, knowing the exact moment that Hashem is strict. He was therefore exposed to the donkey's mouth opening in speech. This power was instituted on the eve of Shabbos, at the exact moment that Shabbos was about to begin. Even the power of speech exhibited by the donkey also came about through pinpoint timing. (Nirreh li)

Ch. 22, v. 29: "Ki atoh haragtich" - Because now I would have killed you - The words "ki atoh" seem superfluous. We can translate "ki" as "af ki," - even though. Bilom was so angry that he said, "Even now, when I have this most important commission to travel to meet Bolok and curse the bnei Yisroel, and am extremely dependent on transportation, nevertheless, I am ready to kill you." (Imrei Shefer)

Ch. 23, v. 23: "Ki lo nachash b'Yaakov v'lo kessem b'Yisroel" - Because there is no sooth saying in Yaakov and no occult act in Yisroel - The Holy Zohar on parshas B'chukosai page 112 explains that "nachash" is done through peering and speaking, while "kessem" is through action. The GR"A adds that "nachash" was done by Bilom (as we find that he spoke numerous prophecies), and "kessem" was done by Bolok (as we see that he built the altars). The bnei Yisroel were protected from "nachash" through Torah study, and from "kessem" through doing mitzvos.

Perhaps we can add, based on the concept that "Yaakov" is an appellation of the bnei Yisroel when they are on a lower level, and "Yisroel" when they are on a higher level, the appropriate term "nachash" being applied to "Yaakov" and "kessem" to Yisroel. If one were to attempt to bring calamity upon "Yaakov," the lower level, just an utterance might work. When applying this to "Yisroel," the higher level, only an action might be effective. However, Bilom said that neither were effective. (Nirreh li)

Ch. 23, v. 23: "Ko'eis yomar l'Yaakov ulYisroel mah po'al Keil" - At the time he will say to Yaakov and to Yisroel what has Keil done - Bilom is referring to the time just before the coming of Moshiach, when the challenges to our faith will be colossal. At that time, not only the common "Yaakov" Jew, but even the elevated "Yisroel" Jew will wonder, "What has Keil done?" (The Holy Admor of Rizhin)

Ch. 23, v. 24: "K'lovi" - As a lion - What is the difference between an "ari" and a "lovi?" The Ramban says that a "lovi" is a lion cub. The GR"A and Malbi"m say that a "lovi" is a lioness. Rabbi Avrohom ben haGR"A says that Targum Onkelos, who says, "k'leiso," translates it as "la'yish." See Mishlei 30:30, "La'yish gibor babheimoh." Ibn Ezra on that verse says that a "la'yish" is a species of lion that fears absolutely no animal. We still have the task of differentiating between a "lovi" and a "la'yish."

Ch. 23, v. 25: "Gam kove lo siko'venu" - Also curs you shall not curse them - Why did Bolok tell Bilom to not curse them? He had already seen that an attempt at cursing the bnei Yisroel turned into a blessing. He therefore told Bilom to not prepare for a prophecy with the hope that it would be for a curse, because it might again be for a blessing. He therefore told Bilom to cease from any preparation for prophecy. (Haameik Dovor)

Ch. 24, v. 3: "U'n'um ha'gever" - And the sermon of the man - Why is the word "gever" used here rather than the more common "ish" or "odom?" "Gever" also means rooster. Just as a rooster is knowledgeable of the times at night and the beginning of the day to crow, so too, Bilom was knowledgeable of auspicious times. Just as a rooster crows seven times a day, Bilom spoke in prophecy seven times (23:7,18, our verse, 24:15,20,21, and 23). Just as a rooster has relations with any species of bird (and this is the reason a rooster is not accepted as a sacrifice), Bilom had bestiality relations. Just as a rooster stands on one foot for extended periods of time, so too, Bilom had only one healthy foot. (Rabbeinu Bachyei)



See also Oroh V'Simchoh - Meshech Chochmoh on the Weekly Parsha, Chasidic Insights and Chamisha Mi Yodei'a

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