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by Dr. Avigdor Bonchek


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Parashas Balak(72)

This week's sedra is devoted to Bila'am's curses turned blessings to Israel.

Numbers 22:22

And G-d's anger was kindled because he (Bila'am) was going; and an angel of Hashem stood in the way as a hindrance to him. And he was riding on his donkey and his two lads were with him.


As a hindrance to him: Rashi: It was an angel of mercy, he wanted to prevent him from sinning, so he wouldn't sin and be lost.

What would you ask on this comment?

Your Answer;


A Question: On what basis does Rashi determine that the angel was an angel of mercy? After all he was actually punishing Bilaam?

Can you see what in the verse led him to this conclusion?

Hint: the Hebrew is a better clue.

Your Answer:


An Answer: One explanation is that the angel was an angel from Hashem.

The name Hashem is the name that signifies the attribute of Mercy (The name Elokim is the attribute of justice.)

You see how his comment reflects this point?

Your Answer:


An Answer: Of course that is the reason Rashi concludes this was an angel of Mercy. Another point is the verse says the angel was "a hindrance to him." The addition of the words "to him" implies that only in Balaam's eyes was he a hindrance, while in reality the angel was there for his benefit.


Often in our lives we meet up with difficulties. But these difficulties may ultimately be for our benefit. It depends how we view matters.

Shabbat Shalom
Avigdor Bonchek

"What's Bothering Rashi?" is produced by the Institute for the Study of Rashi and Early Commentaries. The five volume set of "What's Bothering Rashi?" is available at all Judaica bookstores.

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