Meir Tzvi Berman

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Parshas Balak


Vayachvosh Ess Asono
"And he saddled his donkey"

The fact that Bilaam saddled is donkey by himself instead of letting a servant do it for him shows the great rush he was in to try to curse the Jewish people.

Concerning Bilaam, Rashi tells us that G-d said, "You wicked one! You have already been preceded by Avrohom (Abraham) as it states 'And Avrohom arose in the morning and he saddled his donkey.'" (Gen. 22:3)

In preparing for the Akeida (sacrificial binding of Yitzchok (Isaac), Avrohom demonstrated his zeal to fulfill G-d's will by saddling his own donkey.

It appears that Avrohom’s enthusiasm is a response to Bilaam’s. How is this a response?

Although Avrohom had lofty intentions and demonstrated great zeal, Hashem did not allow him to complete that act of sacrifice. In effect, G-d was telling Bilaam that his eagerness to do a wicked act would have no effect on the outcome.

(Rebbe of Kotzk - Ma'ayana shel Torah)


Gader Mizeh V'Gader Mizeh
"A fence from this side and a fence from this side."

The Torah tells us that Bilaam and his donkey were on a path that ran between two fences. The donkey saw an angel that was trying to deter Bilaam from cursing the Jewish people. In trying to avoid the angel, it squeezed through, crushing Bilaam's leg was against one of the barriers.

The Torah describes the fence as a ‘Gader.’ Rashi comments that as a rule, the term Gader refers to a stone fence.

The relevance of this statement can be understood with a bit of background history.

Several hundred years to this event, Ya'akov (Jacob) and Lovon (Laban) made a truce. They set up a stone monument as a memorial or "witness" to the pact that neither party would cross over the barrier to do evil to the other. Now, Bilaam was a descendant of Lovon. His mission to curse the Jewish people violated this truce. It was thus fitting that the first installment of his punishment - a crushed leg - should be with stone, a fitting punishment which reflects the concept of: "The hand of the witnesses should be in him (the culprit) first"

This is why Rashi mentions that the fence was made of stone.

(Toldos Yitzchok)

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Jerusalem, Israel