Chamishoh Mi Yo'dei'a

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by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

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

Ch. 22, v. 2: "Va'yar Bolok" - And Bolok saw - Rabbi Eliyohu Mizrochi, in his lengthy commentary on Rashi on the first verse of the Torah, in the final paragraph, beginning with the words "Shebatchiloh oloh v'mach'shovoh" says that Rashi's explanation of the word "boro" is similar to "Va'yilochem b'Yisroel" of Bolok. This seems extremely puzzling. Although we find the words "va'yilochem b'Yisroel" in Bmidbar 21:23, it has nothing to do with Bolok. It is discussing the war with Sichon. Secondly, where do we find Bolok actually waging war with the bnei Yisroel?

Ch. 22, v. 3: "Va'yogor Moav mipnei ho'om m'ode ki rav hu" - And Moav feared in the face of the nation greatly because it was numerous - Why was Moav so frightened? The bnei Yisroel were restricted from attacking Moav. The Torah says, "Al totzer es Moav v'al tisgor bom milchomoh" (Dvorim 2:9).

Ch. 22, v. 29: "Ki atoh haragtich" - Because now I would have killed you - The words "ki atoh" seem superfluous.

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 in Yisroel - What is "nachash" and what is "kessem?"



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 over the mantle of kingship of 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) Alternatively, 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)


The Malbim answers that we indeed find verses in Nach stating that Bolok waged war with the bnei Yisroel. One is in Shoftim 11:25, "Hatov atoh miBolok ben Tzipor melech Moav harov rav im Yisroel im nilchom nilcham bom." The other is the one cited by the Mizrochi, "Va'yilochem b'Yisroel" in Yehoshua 24:9. In actuality, he did not wage a war. He only wanted to. A non-ben Yisroel is judged for his negative intentions even if he did not carry them out (see Tosfos on the gemara kidushin 39b). And this is the intention of the Mizrochi. Rashi explains "Breishis boro" as "in the beginning of Hashem's thought to create. This is the same as "va'yilochem b'Yisroel" of Bolok. Although he did not actually wage war, he intended to do so.


History repeats itself. When Moav's patriarch, Lote was seeking refuge after his home town S'dom was destroyed, he begged the angels to not take him to where Avrohom lived, as he feared that he would die there because his merits were insufficient. As long as he lived among the evil people of S'dom, in comparison to them he was righteous. If he were to take up residence near his uncle Avrohom, his behaviour would be lacking in comparison with Avrohom's and he might be punished.

Moav felt secure as long as the bnei Yisroel were not nearby. Once they came into Moav's proximity, the Moabites feared "mipnei ho'om," from being in front of their faces, nearby, as did their patriarch Lote. This is the concern of "es kol s'vivo'seinu" of the next verse. They will destroy the safety zone around us, simply by their being there. (Nirreh li)


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)


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)



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

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