By HaRav Dov Begon
Rosh HaYeshiva, Machon Meir
Balak, King of Moab and his people were so afraid of the Israelites that they grew sick
of living: “The Moabites became deathly afraid because the Israelite people were so
numerous. The Israelites made them sick of living” (Numbers 22:3). What was it that
frightened them so much?
The sefer “Maor VaShemesh” explains that once they saw the Israelites united as one
man, with love and brotherhood reigning amongst them, they understood that when Israel are
united, no one can withstand them -- just as the Amorites and Og, King of Bashan, could not
withstand Israel and were decisively defeated.
The solution found by Balak and Moab was therefore to enlist Bilam, the evil-eye
incarnate, whose whole talent was in cursing people and in creating dissension between
them. It was their hope that he would be able to create dissension amongst the Israelites and
to weaken them. Indeed, Balak brought Bilam to look-out points from which he could expect
to view examples of divisiveness and evil among the Israelites: “Balak took Bilam and
brought him to the High Altars of Ba’al, where he could see as far as the outer edges of the
Israelite people” (Numbers 22:41) -- but not the whole people.
Afterwards he brought him to another spot: “There you will be able to see only a small
section of the Israelite camp, and you will not have to see them all.... He took Bilam to
Lookout Field at the top of the cliff” (23:13-14). Rashi comments, “Balak foresaw that at
some time a breach in Israel would originate from there -- in fact, Moses died there -- hence
he believed that there the curse would certainly be effective.”
Ultimately Balak brought Bilam to a third spot as well: “Balak took Bilam to the top
of Pe’or, overlooking the Waste-land” (23:28). He saw that Israel were destined to be smitten
As is known, however, Balak and Bilam’s goal of creating dissension amongst Israel
did not succeed. To the contrary, Bilam came to curse, and he ended up blessing them: “How
good are your tents, Jacob, your tabernacles, Israel.... A star shall go forth from Jacob, and a
staff shall arise in Israel, crushing all of Moab’s princes” (24:5,17).
Today, even our enemies who set out to drive us out of our land and to destroy us
understand what Balak and Bilam understood -- that as long as Israel are united, they cannot
be defeated. Our enemies therefore strive greatly to drive a wedge between us and to cause
dissension amongst us, by various means:
They engage in dialogue with those Jews whose faith regarding our rights to Eretz
Yisrael has become weak, thereby creating a rift between them and their brethren in Judea
and Samaria who are risking their lives for the sake of our hold on Eretz Yisrael. They also
provide financial and other types of support, openly and in secret, to organizations and
movements that cause dissension in Israeli society.
Yet all their thoughts are nonsense, for “many are the thoughts in a man’s heart, but it
is G-d’s counsel that shall endure” (Proverbs 19:21). Without a doubt, only G-d’s covenant
with the Patriarchs and His oath to them, both of which we must constantly remember, will
“Be mindful always of His covenant with Abraham, which He commanded to a
thousand generations, and of his oath to Isaac. He confirmed them to Jacob for a law, and to
Israel for an everlasting covenant, saying, ‘To you will I give the land of Canaan, the lot of
your inheritance.’” (I Chronicles 16:15-18).
Looking forward to complete salvation,