Kahane on the Parsha
Rabbi Binyamin Kahane- Parshat Balak
BEHIND THE SMILES
If someone were to read Parshat Balak objectively without any previous knowledge, he could easily get the impression that Bilaam is, at the very least, a righteous man. Throughout the entire parasha, Bilaam proclaims that he will only do what G-d tells him to. What piety! And let us not forget the wonderful blessings he bestows upon us. The fact is, we don't see any serious indication in the text that Bilaam is a vicious anti-Semite.
Someone, however, who reads Rashi's commentary from the outset of the Parsha will come away with a very different impression. Indeed, he will notice an interesting pattern. Every time Bilaam sounds righteous, Rashi places Bilaam's words and actions in a totally different light, attributing to him all kinds of strange motives. How can Rashi deviate so sharply from the Parshat, from the simple meaning of the text?
The fact is, however, that Rashi isn't deviating from the Parsha. For Rashi notices from the very beginning something strange about Bilaam's behavior. In his capacity as a prophet, he is asked to curse Israel. What is his answer? Does he reject the idea out of hand as one would expect from a decent person? No. Instead, he procrastinates- "Wait until morning," "Let us hear what G-d says," etc. - as if our "Tzaddik" somehow thinks he can pull it off!
More importantly, Rashi knows from the very beginning that Bilaam cannot be a saint considering that later on Bilaam advises Balak- completely on his own initiative- how to destroy the Jewish people. Indeed, in Parshat Mattot, when the Jews take vengeance against Midian, the Torah emphasizes: "And Bilaam ben Beor they killed by the sword" (Numbers 31:8)- for he was one of the major culprits responsible for the Jews sinning with the Midianite women.
Although somewhat ambiguous in Parshat Balak, the Torah later makes everything clear. It exposes the true fact of Bilaam the Jew-hater. The reason he didn't curse the Jews is because G-d forcibly prevented him from doing so. But his venom found a different outlet in his scheme to entice the Jews to immorality. Knowing the end of the story, Rashi realizes that Bilaam's righteous posturing in Parshat Balka is just that- behind which he is hiding his true desires. Bilaam is a fraud!!!!
In our own era, we encounter many "Bilaams." A superficial look at the Clintons of the world might reveal much good intention and even a certain "love of Jews." It may appear that the saying of the Rabbis, "It is a well-known rule that Esau hates Jacob," does not apply to them. However, a person who reads the Parsha of the gentile, Parshat Balak, accompanied by Rashi will see the situation for what it really is. The gentile's friendly demeanor and even the praises he may help upon us are a cover for the "final act" he has in store for us.
Like Rashi, we must have the foresight to see what they are really planning for us at the end of the "Parsha"- total retreat to the 1967 borders and the dismantling of our nuclear capabilities. In short, total submission. All their sweet talk is only a smoke screen for their demonic plans. Like Rashi, we must use foresight and interpret their deeds in the proper light from the very outset.
Darka Shel Torah, 1993
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