Balak, the son of Tzipor saw all that Israel had done to the Amorites.
Moav was very afraid; there were many of them, and Moav became very uneasy
about the Children of Israel. (Bamidbar 25:2-3)
There are basically two principles that emerge from this week's parshah:
anti-Semitism for anti-Semitism's sake, and the antidote, hidden Divine
protection. A couple of years ago, such a discussion may have been more
academic than anything else. Today, unfortunately, it is quite practical.
Based upon the above verses, it appears as if Balak was only acting in
self-defense. He had seen what the approaching Jewish nation had done to
others in their way, and worried that his nation would suffer a similar
fate. That can hardly be called anti-Semitism. It was simply self-preservation.
Except for one thing: the Jewish people had explicit instructions not to go
to war against the people of Moav. In this case, self-preservation was
keeping quiet and stepping aside. The only question is, did Moav know this
and disregard it, or did Moav simply make a mistaken, yet understandable
assumption, one that any enemy nation would have made in a similar position?
Well, to begin with, Moav was not one of the seven Canaanite nations, which
should have indicated from the beginning a need to make certain of the plans
of the Jewish people before acting in any kind of defense. Secondly, Balak
and Bilaam were sorcerers-the real thing-and Bilaam claimed to even know
Da'as Elyon-knowledge of the Upper One, which meant, more than likely, that
they had been in tune to the attack plans of the Jewish people. No mistaken
The Shem M'Shmuel on this week's parshah corroborates this idea by
explaining that Moav and Midian, enemies until now, collaborated against the
approaching Jewish nation out of fear of spiritual displacement, not
physical displacement. Apparently they knew that if the entire Jewish nation
settled the land on their first approach, the Messianic Era would have
begun, and the era of evil would have ended forever. Being evil to the core,
they found that to be unacceptable.
But they weren't stupid either, well, at least not completely. They were
certainly smart enough to know that any attack on the Jewish people would be
perceived as an attack on God Himself, and therefore, doomed to fail from
the start. Therefore, they knew, they needed a pretext to attack the Jewish
people approaching them, one that could transform an offensive attack into a
defensive one, at least as far as Heaven was concerned.
Sounds silly, right? As if God doesn't know what is really going on in the
hearts of men! Every Yom Kippur we remind ourselves of just the opposite, so
that, in the upcoming year, we won't make the mistake AGAIN of fooling
ourselves into believing that we are more innocent than we really are. "Oh,
I didn't know that was a sin . or at least that bad a sin ." Right.
Indeed, it is quite amazing how far we are willing to go to delude
ourselves, just to justify behavior that is, in essence and in practice,
completely wrong. And, the scariest thing about being human is how wrong
thinking over time can replace correct thinking, until it becomes the
person's permanent perspective on life. It becomes his or her own personal
truth, even though life contradicts it, and everyone else sees this.
And, once that happens, the person begins to constantly interpret reality
incorrectly. For example, when God asked Bilaam who the messengers were who
came to get him, Bilaam assumed that God does not know everything, which
encouraged him to hold back truth from God. It gave him a false sense of
potential success, because he was so desperate to curse the Jewish people,
that he was prepared to try, instead of taking into account the great odds
Balak too. He also knew that they were playing with fire, Divine fire, but
went ahead with his plan anyhow. Amazing. But is it anymore amazing than the
way the world is ganging upon Israel today, demonizing them and their
actions, because of the way they are forced to defend themselves against
sworn enemies and known murderers? Not at all.
Modern Israeli society is far from perfect. But it is also far from being
anti-humanitarian, or anything else that the UN resolutions claim it is. We
certainly do not follow the known Palestinian practice of teaching children
to hate their enemy, and to sing songs of hatred, as a Syrian official
And yet, no nation stood up and claimed the opposite. Everyone who listened
to the blood libel simply took it in stride, feeling no need to vehemently
rebut it. Apathy when it comes to the world's hatred of the Jewish people is
also a form of anti-Semitism, because it shows a lack of concern for a
people for no other reason except for the fact that they are Jewish. The
Nazis may have started the Holocaust, but apathy made it possible to occur,
and that is precisely what Hitler, y"s, relied upon to carry it out.
That is really the point. Anyone who is not anti-Semitic is standing back
and nervously scratching his head saying, "What exactly did the Jews do
wrong to justify that kind of response? Why is the world siding with a
terrorist state over the Jewish one? At what point did Israel go from being
an ally to an enemy, and why?"
But, anyone who is anti-Semitic doesn't even ponder such questions. Their
latent anti-Semitism was waiting for a pretext to come out, and will justify
just about anything to justify itself. They will turn the world and history
upside down to appear correct in their own eyes, just to hate and get at the
Jews. It is amazing how similar this week's parshah and this week's world
It makes one wonder if the recent oil spill, in the Gulf of Mexico, is
somehow tied to American support of the Arab world, just as Hurricane
KATrina was often connected to the destruction of Gush KATif. It's almost as
if Heaven is saying, "You love the Arabs so much? So why not be dependent
upon their oil even more? You want to endanger the environment of My people?
How about I endanger YOUR environment? You want to ridicule My people at
sea? I will ridicule YOU at sea!"
Not that Obama, an anti-Semite according to Kyle-Anne Shiver in an excellent
article written for the American Thinker on June 8, will take note or make
the connection. To him and his (even Jewish) counterparts and allies, it is
just a very unusual and unfortunately catastrophic environmental event at
the hands of, British Petroleum, which began as the Anglo-Persian Oil
Company since it first found oil in, of all places, Persia. No, they will
simply forge ahead and work on dismantling the Jewish state as if God is on
Then, what is the point of such Hashgochah Pratis, if no one is going to pay
attention to it anyhow? Well, what is the point of telling us the story of
what happens behind our backs if we aren't aware that it is happening? This
time the Torah tells about what could have gone wrong and didn't, but
countless times since the close of Torah there has been no one to reveal to
us many of the miracles that have occurred to save our Jewish necks.
There doesn't have to be. It's enough that the Torah tells us once that God
is always looking out for us, and that even during times when we might not
merit His protection, or at least His full protection, He sticks up for us
anyhow, by at least not letting those who would do us evil walk away with
It's like a father, who, upon getting angry at his son, berates him and
sends him home early from a simchah. As the son leaves, sad and with his
head down, another boy comes over and pushes him as if to add insult to
injury. Does the father laugh at such a thing? Of course not. Rather, he
immediately runs over and defends his son, even though it doesn't change the
Obviously, we can't say for sure. However, it is ironic that one of the
worst hurricanes in history totaled Louisiana just after the Arabs totaled
Gush Katif, especially since an entire presentation had been made the year
before warning of the dangers of a Hurricane Level 5, which everyone
ignored, except the presenters. They later cried as they told of how the
death and damage could have been avoided had they been taken seriously the
This is from God, that which is wondrous in our eyes. (Tehillim 118:23)
And, this oil spill is quite similar, inasmuch as it was unexpected, and
unstoppable, and as a result, it is doing massive long-term damage.
Furthermore, as one Torah code floating around today seems to indicate, it
might even have been predicted by the Talmud, which talks about water
congealing with oil and making it impossible for fish to swim, right before
Who knows? Maybe yes, and maybe no. But one thing is for sure about this
parshah, and that is that God is always looking out for his people, even
when they deserve what may be coming to them. Jewish history is miraculous,
and that is only talking about the miracles that we know about. There are so
many others that we won't find out about until after history concludes.
It reminds me of the story of Lot and his guests. Once the people of Sdom
realized that Lot had strangers in his house, an angry and ruthless mob
gathered by his front door, demanding that Lot turn the guests over.
Heroically, Lot stood up to them, but crazily, he offered his own daughters
instead, which the mob rejected.
When the scene began to turn ugly, one of the guests opened the door,
reached out for Lot, and pulled him to safety. And being angels, they were
able to blind the entire mob outside, rendering them scared and helpless,
allowing Lot to flee destruction while the rest of Sdom groped in physical
darkness, after groping in spiritual darkness for so many years.
That is how it will probably play out at the End-of-Days. Right now, a mob
is beginning to gather around Eretz Yisroel, making unreasonable demands.
The scene is getting uglier by the week, and the people defending us from
the outside are losing ground. It won't be long before they make up their
minds to break in and take over in one way or another.
However, at the last minute, Eretz Yisroel will pull to safety those who
merit to be saved, and then shut the door, as miracle after miracle happens
to neutralize the massive danger that lurks just outside, just as God did to
Sancheriv and his united nations army of that time. He did it once before
and He'll do it again, right before the eyes of the very world.
You don't believe me?
I have a hard time believing me as well. But not because what I am saying is
not possible or even likely. But, because I lack vision, imagination, and
faith. The problem is mine, not God's, Torah's, or history's. I just hope
that by the time all of this becomes actual reality, I am a full believer.
Otherwise, I'll probably wear my eyes out from rubbing them so much, just
trying to absorb the reality of the Final Redemption. May it happen soon,
and may it happen mercifully.
Text Copyright © 2010 by Rabbi Pinchas Winston and Torah.org.