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by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

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Ch. 22, v. 12: "Va'yomer Elokim el Bilom" - And Elokim said to Bilom - I received this from a reader of Sedrah Selections: I feel compelled to relate an incident that took place last year in a shtiebel where I daven weekday shacharis from time to time. There is a very small ante-room before the room where davening takes place. There is a bulletin board there with many notices. After the psak halacha of the "poseik hador" MVRHRH"G Rabbi Shmuel haLevi Vozner shlit"a that cell phones should be off during davening a very large, noticeable, illustrated, colour poster was put up advertising his psak. During the krias haTorah either on Monday or Thursday the cell phone of the person who was "o'leh" rang quite loudly exactly at the end of the phrase, "Va'yomer Elokim el Bilom." The "baal korei" stopped until the ringer was turned off and finished the reading. After the "oleh" made his end "brochoh" and the "baal korei" recited "chatzi kadish" I somewhat "lost it." It was already commonplace for people to run out while picking up a call mid-davening, be they alerted by a very audible ring or vibrating. Of course this was somewhat disruptive, especially given that the minyan was not a large one. Once the disruption took place through the "o'leh" I felt it was time to lodge a complaint. Without raising my voice I asked, "What was so bad about Bilom? After all, he received prophecy on a level that in a certain way was equal to that of Moshe. The answer is that even when 'Va'yomer Elokim el Bilom,' a direct prophecy from Hashem, he still had his cell phone on."

I hope that through my medium there will be a positive affect in the shuls where it is weekly distributed.

Ch. 22, v. 37: "Ho'umnom lo uchal kabdecho" - Can I not truthfully bestow honour upon you - Haksav V'hakaboloh does not translate the prefix letter Hei of "ho'umnom" as a Hei that questions. He says that if this were so the verse should have added "do you think." He therefore says that it is affirming. Since Bilom had refused to come earlier Bolok responded that he will not be able to honour him.

Ch. 22, v. 34: "Chotosi ki lo yodati ki atoh nitzov likrosi" - I have sinned because I did not know that you stand against me - Rashi comments that Bilom told the angel that Hashem is accustomed to say something and then rescind it. What indication is there in our incident that Bilom said these words? It can be extracted from these words of our verse. Since Bilom said that he did not know that the angel stood in the path, blocking the donkey, why did he say that he sinned? What did he do wrong? It is as he said to the donkey. Since he knew that Hashem says something and sometimes changes His mind, Bilom blamed himself for not realizing that the obstinacy of the donkey was a sign from Hashem that he should not proceed. (Imrei Shefer)

Ch. 22, v. 36: "Va'yeitzei likroso el Ir Moav asher al g'vul Arnon asher biktzei hagvul" - And he went toward him to Ir Moav which is at the border of Arnon which is at the end of the border - Why do we need to know this? Except under special circumstances Hashem does not speak to someone outside Eretz Yisroel. The gemara explains that Hashem transmitted a prophecy to Yechezkel in chu"l on the river Kvar, a place of purity. Arnon was a body of water. Bilom went there to receive prophecy. (Tiferes Y'honoson)

I don't understand how this alleviates the issue of Bilom's receiving prophecy earlier. As well, the gemara says that if someone had already received prophecy in Eretz Yisroel he can again receive it in chu"l. since medrashim say that Bilom is Lovon and Hashem spoke to Lovon, warning him to not harm Yaakov, he had already received prophecy in Eretz Yisroel. Also, this rule only applies after the bnei Yisroel entered Eretz Yisroel.

Ch. 23, v. 7: "Min Arom yancheini Volok" - From Arom Bolok will lead me - This was a most powerful jab at Bolok. He was looking for someone who could invoke a curse upon the bnei Yisroel. Bolok was from Aram and Lovon hailed from there. It must be a place where many destructive magicians reside. Why does he send for me, who lives at a distance? (Ohel Yaakov)

Ch. 23, v. 9: "Hein om l'vodod yishkone uvagoyim lo yis'chashov" - Behold a nation that will rest alone and among the nations will not be counted - Bolok told Bilom that although it is true that the bnei Yisroel as compared to the goyim come out on top, as they are moral, etc., but if you look at them on their own many flaws can be found. To this Bilom responded that even if they are looked at on their own and are not calculated against other nations, they are still very holy, and he goes on to say, "Mi monoh afar Yaakov umispar es rova Yisroel." (Ksav Sofer)

Ch. 23, v. 9: "Uvagoyim lo yis'chasov" - And among the nations he will not be counted - A repeat of a beautiful and VERY relevant insight: "Uvagoyim," and if he mingles with the nations, then "lo Yisroel'chashov," he will not be respected. They do not respect a ben Yisroel who mingles with them. However, "Uvagoyim lo," if he is not among the nations, then "yis'chashov," he will be respected by the nations.

Ch. 23, v. 10: "Umispar rova Yisroel" - And numbered the stock of Yisroel - Bilom is saying that he cannot qualify the greatness of even a quarter of Yisroel. He chose this amount as he saw them resting in four encampments. (Daas Z'keinim)

Ch. 23, v. 19: "Lo ish Keil vichazeiv uven odom v'yisnechom hahu omar v'lo yaa'seh v'dibeir v'lo y'kimenoh" - Keil is not a man that He should be dishonest or the son of a man that he should rescind has He said something and will not do it and has spoken and will not fulfill it - The Chasam Sofer in his eulogy on his teacher Rabbi Noson haKohein Adler cited Iyov 23:13, "V'hu b'echod umi y'shi'venu v'nafsho ivsoh v'yo'as." This verse tells us that whatever Hashem decides to do cannot be stopped by anyone. The Chasam Sofer explains this verse in praise of his Rebbi. When Rabbi Adler was alive he could pray to Hashem to rescind a negative decree. However, when, "V'hu b'echod umi y'shi'venu v'nafsho ivsoh v'yo'as." When Hashem is alone without a great tzadik below in the physical world, then He decrees and none can make Hashem change or negate the decree. Whatever He wishes He will do.

When the Hoshiatener Rebbe zt"l heard this he responded that he heard in the name of his ancestor the Holy Rizhiner that even when the tzadik dies there is hope. He cited our verse and explained it thus: "Lo ish," when there unfortunately is no great tzadik left to negate a bad decree, then "Keil vicha'zeiv," Hashem Himself backs off even though it is as if He is dishonest. "Uven odom," (the "lo" of earlier goes on this too) there is no great personage to negate the decree, then "v'yisnechom," He on His own will relent. There is always hope.



See also Oroh V'Simchoh - Meshech Chochmoh on the Weekly Parsha, Chasidic Insights and Chamisha Mi Yodei'a

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