Chamishoh Mi Yo'dei'a

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by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

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1) Ch. 22, v. 2: "Va'yar Bolok" - And Bolok saw - Did he actually see, or did he hear what Yisroel did to the Emorites?

2) Ch. 22, v. 3: "Va'yogor Moav" - And Moav trembled - Why was Moav afraid of the bnei Yisroel? Weren't the bnei Yisroel commanded to not wage war with Moav, "al totzar es Moav" (Dvorim 2:9)? As well, why does our verse only introduce Bolok by name, without mentioning that he was the king of Moav, and even when telling us this new information later, in verse 4, why does the verse state that he was the king of Moav "at that time?"

3) 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 - What is "nachash" and what is "kessem?"

4) Ch. 23, v. 24: "K'lovi…… v'chaari" - As a lion - What is the difference between an "ari" and a "lovi?"

5) Ch. 24, v. 23: "Oy mi yichyeh misumo Keil" - Woe who will survive from His placing Keil - When translated literally, these words are difficult to comprehend.



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)

7) He saw written in his history books that Yaakov single-handedly beat the Emorites, as is written, "asher lokachti miyad hoEomori b'charbi uvkashti." He also read that this was done through Yaakov's power of prayer, as per Targum Onkelos and the gemara B.B. 123a, that "charbi" and "kashti" mean "b'tzlosi ub'vo'usi," through my prayers and entreaties. He therefore reacted in kind, seeking to overpower the bnei Yisroel through the powers of a holy man, Bilom. Understand "kol asher ossoh Yisroel loEmori" as "all that our forefather Yisroel did to the Emorites." (Kli Yokor)

8) Bolok saw what Moshe did at war. He caused the sun to remain in place and not set so that the army could complete its defeat of its foes, as per the gemara A.Z. 25a. "Va'yar has the same numerical value as "nokdoh hachamoh." (Baal Haturim)


Bolok saw and understood the situation for what it truly was. Bolok, without enhancements to his name, as if he were not the king of Moav, saw what the bnei Yisroel did to the Emorites. Even though the bnei Yisroel were exhorted to not make war with Moav, the Moabite nation feared the bnei Yisroel specifically because Bolok was their king "at that time." He was not naturally their king, a member of their nation, but rather, a foreigner who was given the position on a temporary basis. But exactly for this reason they feared the bnei Yisroel. Because Bolok, a non-Moabite, but rather an Arami, as per the verse "min Aram yancheini" (23:7), was their king, they considered the identity of their nation changed from Moabites to Aramites, as we find that Sichon, when taken over and headed by Amon and Moav, lost its identity as Sichon. The bnei Yisroel were not commanded to refrain from warring with Amori. (Kli Yokor)

Alternatively, Rabbeinu Chaim Paltiel translates "va'yogor Moav" as "and Moav confined himself." Out of fear of the bnei Yisroel those who lived in open cities moved into a walled community. They established for themselves a new king, Bolok. The sequence of events was that Bolok apprised the public of the impending danger, they moved into a walled city, and then appointed Bolok as their king until the danger would pass. All questions are now answered. "Va'yogor" does not mean "Moav feared," but rather, "Moav confined itself." Bolok was not Moav's king when he surmised that they were in danger. He was only appointed as king after the Moabites moved into protective surroundings, and he was only appointed for a short-term tenure.


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 was effective. (Nirreh li)


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."


Rashi offers that "eil" is a shortened form of "ei'leh," these, the actions of Sancherev and the Aramians.

Among the names Hashem has predetermined and communicated to people either through a direct prophecy or through an angel, there are only 2 names that incorporate His name Keil within them. They are YishmoEL (Breishis 16:11) and YisroEL (Breishis 32:29). Based on this, the Holy Zohar offers a novel and unnerving explanation of these words in our verse: Who will survive the conflict between those "Whom Hashem has placed the name Keil into them," i.e. YisroEL and l'havdil Yishmo'EL?



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

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