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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? 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) 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)

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"? 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.

Ch. 22, v. 5: "Bilom" - One medrash says that Bilom was Lovon, while another says that he was a descendant of Lovon. Rabbeinu Chaim Paltiel says that he was also Bela, the king of Dinhovo (Breishis 36:32). A letter Mem was added to Bela's name. The gemara Sotoh says that Bilom was one of Paroh's three advisors who dealt with the "Jewish problem." He advised Paroh to have the bnei yisroel's newborn males thrown into the river. This is alluded to in the word Dinhovo, which is a composite of "dan hovo," he judged that "HOVO nis'chakmo lo" (Shmos 1:10).

Ch. 22, v. 12: "Lo so'ore es ho'om ki voruch hu" - Do not curse the nation because it is blessed - These words seem to be enigmatic. If indeed the nation is blessed, why tell Bilom to not curse them? Since they are blessed his curse will be ineffective, so why care about his curse? Ibn Ezra seems to be aware of this and translates these words as, "You will not be successful in cursing the nation because they are blessed."

Rabbeinu Chaim Paltiel explains that Bilom's curse would surely be ineffective, but Hashem stopped him from cursing because He knew that the bnei Yisroel would later sin with the daughters of Midyon, bringing about a plague that would wipe out 24,000 bnei Yisroel. Had Bilom cursed the bnei Yisroel, the nations of the world would attribute the death of these 24,000 to the efficacy of his curse.

Ch. 22, v. 28: "Va'yiftach Hashem es pi ho'osone" - And Hashem opened the mouth of the donkey - The Rambam in Moreh N'vuchim 2:42 writes that Avrohom's being visited by three angels on the third day since his circumcision (Breishis 18:2), Yaakov's being attacked by an angel (Breishis 32:25), and Bilom's donkey rebuking him, are all not to be taken literally. Rather all three incidents were prophetic visions. The Ramban at the beginning of parshas Va'yeiro takes strong issue with the Rambam and asks a number of powerful questions on the Rambam's position. I am quite surprised that he does not include in his rebuttal the mishnoh in Pirkei Ovos 5:8, that among the ten things created on the eve of Shabbos was the mouth of the donkey. If the donkey's talking was but a prophetic vision, there is no CREATION of its mouth. Surprisingly, even the Rambam himself says nothing about this in his commentary on the mishnoh, leaving us with the impression that it is to be taken literally. Any insights would be greatly appreciated.

Ch. 22, v. 28: "Zeh sholosh r'golim" - These three times - Literally these words should be translated as "these three legs." The verse in Yechezkeil 1:7 says, "v'regleihem regel y'shoroh," their (the angels') feet are one straight foot. They have their feet together as if they are one. (This is why we place our feet together for the "amidoh" prayer.) The bnei Yisroel always have a guardian angel watching over them, as per the verse in Shmos 23:20, "Hi'nei onochi sholei'ach maloch l'fo'necho." The one foot of the angel and the two feet of each ben Yisroel are always together. If so, why do you hit me because I do not transport you to ch"v curse the bnei Yisroel who together with their guardian angel total three feet? (Sifsei Kohein)

Ch. 23, v. 19: "Lo ish Keil vicha'zeiv" - Hashem is not like a man that He will say a lie - The medrash explains these words as follows: A man is not G-d. If he claims that he is, as did Chirom king of Tzur, then "vicha'zeiv," he has said a lie.

Ch. 24, v. 2: "Vat'hi olov ruach Elokim" - And there was upon him the Spirit of Hashem - Rashi says that the "ruach Elokim" was not a spirit of prophecy, but rather, the sentiment to not curse the bnei Yisroel. Targumim Onkelos and Yonoson ben Uziel both say that it was a spirit of prophecy. The Holy Zohar says that "olov" refers to the nation Yisroel. Bilom was about to embark upon another round of praises for the bnei Yisroel. No lover of the bnei Yisroel, he hoped to invoke an "ayin hora" upon them, as a result of his speaking extremely positive about them begrudgingly. Therefore Hashem spread His Spirit of protection upon the bnei Yisroel, as would a father who takes his son into the public arena and is afraid of an "ayin hora" He spreads a kerchief over him to keep him out of the public's view.

Ch. 24, v. 4: "Macha'zeh SHakai Yechezeh Nofeil" - The vision of Hashem he will view falling - The first letters of "SHakai Yechezeh Nofeil" form the word "Shin." This refers to the power of tefillin, that when the gentiles see a ben Yisroel wearing his tefillin shel rosh he will have great fear, as per the verse "v'ro'u kol a'mei ho'oretz ki Shem Hashem Nikro o'lecho v'yoru mi'meko" (Dvorim 28:10), and as explained in the gemara Brochos 6a, this refers to the tefillin shel rosh. (Note that the first letters of "Shem Hashem Nikro" also spell Shin.) (Sifsei Kohein)

Ch. 24, v. 23: "Oy mi yichyeh misumo Keil" - Woe who will remain alive when Hashem will place - This prophecy refers to Shmuel killing Agag. Although Sho'ul fought Amoleik and killed many, he left over Agag. When we combine the words "misumo" and "Keil" we have "miShmuel." Read these words of our verse as "Oy mi yichyeh miShmuel." This is a continuum of verse 20, which begins with "Va'yar es Amoleik." (Sifsei Kohein)



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

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