Thursday, July 21, 2016

Thursday's Parsha Tidbits - Parshas Balak

The following is a brief summary of some of thoughts said over by R' Frand on the parsha this evening. I have attempted to reproduce these vorts to the best of my ability. Any perceived inconsistency is the result of my efforts to transcribe the shiur and should not be attributed to R' Frand.

In Bamidbar 22:28 Hashem allows Bilaam's donkey to speak and given this ability, the donkey asks Bilaam - why did you hit me three times. However, the word for times which the donkey uses is "regalim" instead of the more common "pa'amim." Rashi comments that the donkey is saying to Bilaam - how can you hope to curse the Jewish people who keep the mitzva of going up to the Beis Hamikdash three times a year.

R' Frand asked a rhetorical question - if you were to consider the mitzvos which the Jews accomplish and could be a great zchus for them, would you have included aliyah l'regel?

R' Frand next quoted a pasuk in Bamidbar 23:23 where Bilaam praises the Jews for not having sorcerers. Again, Rashi comments that the Jews are worthy of bracha because they dont have sorcerers. This raises two questions; (1) didn't you just say they are praiseworthy for being oleh regel, and (2) what is the significance that they don't practice sorcery?

R' Frand answered by quoting the sefer Ateres Dudaim who quotes a vort from R' Yaakov Yosef (first and only Chief Rabbi of NY) who cites a pasuk in Shir Hashirim which praises the Jews for having beautiful footsteps in their shoes. The gemara interprets the pasuk as saying this refers to the Jews going up to the Beis Hamikdash.

But this gemara creates a problem - how can the Jews be beautiful for going up with their shoes if one does not wear shoes on Har HaBayis?

R' Yaakov Yosef explains that the praise is not for being on Har HaBayis - it was the trip up that was an act of immense faith. Everyone goes up to Jerusalem and the borders are left unguarded. But there are no worries, as the Torah promises that no one will covet your land. 

Still this is a tremendous act of faith to go up to Jerusalem and leave all the possession and home behind. The praiseworthy act is not being at the Beis Hamikdash, because there - the person feels close to Hashem and does not need faith, But the person who is walking miles and miles and leaves everything behind is showing faith and not questioning Hashem.

This is also the reason why the Jews are praised for not following sorcery - because they have faith in Hashem and don't need to look for hints about the future, The person who has true faith in Hashem has no need or desire for sorcery, because he has emunah. And a nation which has faith in Hashem can never be cursed.

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