Balak and Pinchas 5772
The 17th of Tammuz, is the day when we solemnize five disastrous events in our history, as we also do for the calamitous 9th of Av, in three weeks hence. Both are fast days, with the 9th of Av following closely behind Yom Kippur in its halachic severity.
However, this year we will not fast, because both days fall out on Shabbat.
Two days ago, on the 17 of Tamuz, while sitting at the Shabbat seuda (feast) as I will do on the 9th of Av, the prophesy of Zecharia (8:19) came to my mind:
כה אמר ה' צבאות צום הרביעי וצום החמישי וצום השביעי וצום העשירי יהיה לבית יהודה לששון ולשמחה ולמעדים טובים והאמת והשלום אהבו
Thus said the Lord of Hosts: The fast of the fourth month (17th of Tammuz), and the fast of the fifth (9th of Av) and the fast of the seventh (Fast of Gedalia), and the fast of the tenth (10th of Tevet), shall be to the house of Judah joy and gladness, and cheerful feasts; therefore love truth and peace.
Although, Zecharia is referring to the future when all the Rabbinic fast days will be annulled, this year we have an opportunity to indulge a bit in what that very near future will bring. How do I know it will come about in the very near future? Because the entire eighth chapter of Zecharia is referring to our times, as follows:
2 Thus said the Lord of hosts: I am zealous for Zion with great zealousness, and I am zealous for her with great wrath.
(HaShem drove out the Turks and the British in order for us to establish the Medina, and has granted the Jewish army incredible victories over enemy forces many times larger, better equipped and with Russian advisors).
3 Thus said the Lord: I will return to Zion, and will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem: and Jerusalem shall be called The city of truth; and the mountain of the Lord of hosts. The holy mountain.
(The Jewish nation has returned to Eretz Yisrael and is sovereign over Yerushalayim for the first time in over 2000 years, an event unprecedented in human history).
4 Thus said the Lord of hosts: Old men and old women will again dwell in the streets of Jerusalem, every man with his staff in his hand. 5 And the streets of the city shall be full of boys and girls playing in the streets.
(Come to Yerushalayim or to any place in the Holy Land and see the words of the prophet coming to life before your eyes. The longevity of our elders is obvious and the very large families where 10 children are not a rarity).
6 Thus said the Lord of hosts: If it be marvelous in the eyes of the remnant of this people in those days, it will be marvelous in my eyes, said the Lord of hosts.
(We who have returned are filled with wonderment at how we have turned this desolate land into a wonderland. And Hashem, too, is amazed at how His children have been able to overcome 2000 years of Galut and return home as fresh and as vital as ever).
7 Thus said the Lord of hosts: Behold, I will save my people from the east country, and from the west country;
(HaShem has returned His children to the Land, from east and from west; from over 100 different lands).
8 And I will bring them, and they shall dwell in the midst of Jerusalem; and they shall be my people, and I will be their God, in truth and in righteousness.
(There is more Torah study and sincere observance in Yerushalayim than in the rest of the world combined).
9 Thus said the Lord of hosts: Let your hands be strong, ye that hear in these days these words from the mouth of the prophets that were in the day that the foundation of the house of the Lord of hosts was laid, even the temple, that it might be built.
(There are ongoing preparations for the third Temple, both on the theoretical and practical levels).
12 For there shall be the seed of peace; the vine shall give its fruit, and the ground shall give its increase, and the heavens shall give their dew; and I will cause the remnant of this people to inherit all these things.
(The land is rich with agricultural produce, which is a mighty sign that the redemption is close by).
13 And it shall come to pass that, as you were a curse among the nations, Oh house of Judah and house of Israel, so will I save you, and you shall be a blessing. Fear not, but let your hands be strong.
(The gentiles have blamed the Jews for all the ills of the world and we have been unable to defend ourselves. Today the Medina is at the cutting edge of science and technology to help cure the ills of humanity. We are a blessing for the world).
16 These are the things that you shall do: speak every man the truth with his neighbor; execute the judgment of truth and peace in your gates;
17 and let none of you devise evil in your hearts against his neighbor; and love no false oath: for all these are things that I hate, said the Lord.
19 Thus said the Lord of hosts: The fast of the fourth month, and the fast of the fifth, and the fast of the seventh, and the fast of the tenth, shall be to the house of Judah joy and gladness, and cheerful feasts; therefore love truth and peace.
(Nullification of the rabbinic fast days, when we will soon participate in the full redemption of the Jewish people).
20 Thus said the Lord of hosts: It shall yet come to pass, that there shall come peoples, and the inhabitants of many cities;
(Gentiles from New York, Moscow, Rome, Mecca and Shanghai).
21 And the inhabitants of one city shall go to another, saying, Let us go speedily to entreat the favor of the Lord, and to seek the Lord of hosts: I will go also.
22 Many peoples and strong nations shall come to seek the Lord of hosts in Jerusalem, and to entreat the favor of the Lord.
(The gentiles will ultimately throw away their false religions and accept the seven Noachide laws)
23 Thus said the Lord of hosts: In those days it shall come to pass, that ten men out of all the languages of the nations, shall take hold of the garment of a Jew, saying, We will go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.
As time progresses, we in Eretz Yisrael will realize the fulfillment of all the prophetic destiny of the Jewish people. Our Father in Heaven and His devoted children in the Holy Land have passed the point of no return in our relationship. He has no choice but to show His mercy to His chosen people, who have demonstrated loyalty far and beyond what could be expected from fragile human beings.
We are eating the fruits of the sacrifices made by the last 80 generations of our fathers and mothers. May we be worthy of their sacrifices.
In the week of parashat Balak, the world’s scientific communities were in ecstasy. After spending billions of dollars and thousands of great minds who participanted in the project, they finally proved empirically the existence of the Gibbs-Boson. Josiah Gibbs was the American physicist who theorized how sub-atomic particles (photons etc.) which are otherwise similar in their physical properties (bosons), have different masses, which is expressed in the speed of the particle.
What is the great discovery?
Picture a room full of people, and one person who is friends with all the others. This individual wishes to get to the other end of the room. But since he personally involved with each person he will stop and make small talk, resulting in his reaching the other end of the room in ten minutes. Enter a stranger who wants to reach the far corner of the room. He will do it in one minute, because he does not interact with anyone in the room.
Scientists’ claim that was proven, is that the entire creation is totally filled with a certain entity, like water that fills all the space in a pool. The various sub-atomic particles interact with this entity to different degrees. The sub-atomic particle that causes light (photon), does not interact at all with the surrounding entity, therefore it travels at the maximum speed of 300,000 kilometers a second (speed of light). Other sub-atomic particles cannot reach the speed of light, because they interact with their surroundings. The degree of interaction determines the mass or speed of the particle.
The principle behind the discovery is that the more a particle interacts with its surroundings, the more stunted is its advancement, and it ultimately will never reach the ultimate speed of light.
Now, why did the Creator open up this secret just on the week of parashat Balak? The answer lies in the parasha, since all happens during a week is alluded to in its parasha.
Bilaam was as devious as he was evil. He looked out at the Jewish people and understood the secret of our existence as God’s chosen people:
עם לבדד ישכון
A nation that dwells alone.
The Jewish nation can achieve the goals that HaShem has set down for it, only to the extent that the Jews do not interact with the surrounding gentiles and their cultures. Bilaam advised Balak to create an interaction between the holy Jewish nation and the profane daughters of Midian and Moav, with the unfortunate result that 24,000 Jews who sinned and died, which set the nation back spiritually.
The physical world meets the metaphysical as we delve deeper into the hidden areas of our existence.
Sub-atomic particles gain speed to the degree that they do not interact with their surroundings, and the Jewish nation achieves kedusha (holiness) when we are free of external gentile influences.
The Tanach is replete with admonishments of the prophets to refrain from alliances with foreign powers, as we see when Yirmiyahu warned Tzidkiyahu, the last king of the Davidic lineage who ruled at the time of the first Temple’s destruction, not to depend on Egypt.
One need not be a great historian to know that when the Jews dwelled alone in the ghettos, Judaism was secure, but when "emancipation" was granted to us we escaped the Torah with a vengeance.
American Reform, Conservative and un-affiliated Jews will disappear by the "kiss of death" of their gentile surroundings. Even the religious in the galut have perverted the principles of Judaism because of their interaction with their surroundings, and the desire of many of them to be accepted into American society or at the very least to be able to live the "great American dream" without too much anti-Semitism. Very few American religious Jews visit Eretz Yisrael, and it is not politically, socially or financially correct to speak of aliya, or to appear as enthusiastic devotees of the State of Israel. And with time Israel will become for them an object of disdain and even hate.
Even in Eretz Yisrael, one can trace our problems to our interaction with the gentiles. Our dependency on the United States paralyzes our government from implementing actions which are necessary for our security and survival. The United States warns Israel, "Don’t build in your Biblical areas of Yehuda, Shomron and the Golan. Don’t build a security fence. Don’t over-react when hundreds of rockets and missiles are fired at your cities. Don’t sell military equipment. Don’t build the Lavie aircraft. Don’t attack Iraq in the first Gulf War. Don’t attack Iran even though they have explicitly stated their intention to eradicate you. Just prepare to disappear.
Not only in the political arena is our interaction with America and the gentile world detrimental to our Judaism. Even their culture of music, art, films, dress etc., has permeated into our society to the detriment of the holiness of our nation.
No wonder the Rambam states that one of the features of the Messianic era will be the freeing of the Jewish people from foreign influences of all sorts.
It began with Bilaam and continues to our day, victimizing our people and scarring our national consciousness.
Now since we live in a reality where we cannot escape interacting with gentiles and their cultures, Israel would do well to draw away from its Western orientation and seek a more balanced relationship with the gentile world. To begin with by growing closer to China and other nations of the east, until that time when we will be independent of other nations and be dependent only on HaShem.
In our parasha, Moshe is commanded to lead the Jewish army into war with Midian and destroy them as a nation.
War is never a good option, but in this case it was a personal challenge for Moshe.
Moshe lived many good and happy years in Midian. His father-in-law was the noted Yitro, and through him Moshe became acquainted with the intelligentsia and the "who’s who" of Midian society. Moshe’s wife was born there as well as his two sons.
Moshe is now being told to make war upon the people he knows and with whom he feels some degree of kinship.
This is no easy task. But the ever faithful eved HaShem (servant of God) did not falter for a moment, and fulfilled HaShem’s command despite the difficulties.
The lesson of this episode is one of allegiance. Where does you allegiance as a Jew lay? With the foreign nation where you were born? To the culture that feel so right? Or with the dictates of the Torah?
Every Jew is tested in his life. That’s one of the reasons we were brought to this world.
Avraham was told by Hashem to break the three bonds that define allegiance: leave the land where you now dwell, leave the land where you were born and leave your family.
As difficult as it might seem, our generation was chosen to restore the honor of HaShem and the Jewish people by returning to the Holy Land to lay the groundwork for the rebuilding of the holy Temple and the Messianic era.
A sincerely religious Jew who does not lie to himself has no way of escaping his responsibilities at this unprecedented juncture in our history.
So don’t believe the lies perpetuated by modern day meraglim (spies), regardless of their titles or outward appearance. But most important do not lie to yourself which is tantamount to spiritual and intellectual suicide.
Copyright © 5772/2012 Nachman Kahana