Friday, June 29, 2018

How’s Your Donkey Vision?

by Moshe Feiglin

“And the donkey saw the angel of God”(from this week’s Torah portion, Balak, Numbers 28:25)

Sometimes even a donkey clearly sees what smart people can’t. It is no surprise. Human intelligence is always accompanied by human fault. Moreover, true wisdom is not possible without humility, currently known as intellectual honesty.

Even donkeys understood where the Oslo Accords would lead. The masses protested and warned of the consequences. But the eyes of the “wise” men were blinded and they were unable to see the drawn sword of the angel of reality who was standing in their path.

That is how it goes when human drives overshadow wisdom. Even a donkey will see what you can no longer perceive.

Shabbat Shalom.

Transparency is the Fuel of Democracy and the Enemy of a Dictatorship

by Ari Kalker

The Ministerial Committee for Legislation’s decision to approve MK Robert Ilatov’s (Yisrael Beytenu) bill forbidding the photographing of IDF soldiers in the course of their duties shows how badly we need to open our eyes.

Our soldiers and our policemen work for us, the citizens of the state of Israel, they should be afraid of us. Officers and soldiers should know they will be held accountable for their actions, good and bad. The public sphere is a place where no one can assume privacy nor should they.

When we start holding our government accountable for their actions they start to fear our retribution. The law against filming soldiers and police is not for their protection, but for the protection of the ruling politicians. The police and soldiers are merely an expression of the will of the ruling powers. They have no opinion of their own but must simply fulfill the orders they are given. If they beat a citizen, or shoot an Arab, they are acting on the orders from the politicians who sent them. By hiding these actions from the public we are hiding the truth of who our elected leadership is. We are hiding from ourselves the true nature of the people we elected to lead us.

Transparency is the fuel of democracy and the enemy of a dictatorship. It is by seeing the truth that we can judge the men we elected and chose or leadership in the voting booth.

Not only should we be allowed to film our public officials but it should be encouraged. In today’s day and age the only way to maintain the morality of our leadership is to remind them that they are being watched and judged every moment by the people who put them in power. More so elected official and every judge should be required by law to publish their daily schedules in real time, with the names of who they met with. Once someone takes upon himself the yoke of public service they must understand that they are now working for the public and no longer have the same rights to privacy as everyone else. Our public officials are here to serve us and it is only by constantly reminding them of that, that we can bring some morality back in to our politics.

The Blind Israeli Giant vs. Gaza

by Moshe Feiglin

The following is an excerpt from the new, revised 2018 edition of my Hebrew book, “Where There are no Men”, which is now being prepared for publication:

Not only did the Jews invent a new civilian nationalism for themselves – but the Arabs also learned from us and did the same. A major turning point was when Rabin – and after him, Netanyahu - shook the hand of the chairman of the Palestinian Liberation Organization. When the elected representatives of both the Israeli Right and Left recognized the antithesis of Zionism, when they recognized the legitimacy of the new Arab “nation’s” claim of sovereignty in the Land of Israel, Zionism lost the only sanctified value it ever really had: the Homeland.

The only value that is left today for the blind giant to hide behind and justify himself is the value of self-defense. “Effect Yad Vashem” – a.k.a. “we are just because we were oppressed” doesn’t work well anymore. David has moved down to Gaza and now we are Goliath.

Not even a small piece of ‘justice’ is left for Israel in the face of the warriors of liberation and liberty that we created at Oslo. It is forbidden to kill the person who is just. At the very most, we can kill his mortar shells – once they are already in the air, of course.

Inanimate objects are not just or unjust, so Israel’s self-defense ethos can still defeat them. Even if it isthe Zionist occupier and the last of the colonialists.

“No tunnel ever chased me,” I said to today’s frightened Chief of Staff during Operation Protective Edge when missiles from Gaza were exploding in Tel Aviv. “Can you please stop counting how many tunnels the IDF has blown up and tell me who the enemy is”?

The Chief of Staff (who was then Deputy Chief of Staff) muttered something and didn’t answer my question. In the meantime, tens of our IDF soldiers continued to be killed in the pointless war of the blind giant against a miserable little enemy – who in Oslo received from us the most powerful of weapons, the weapon of justice.

Because without G-d, the new Israeli nation that we established here really has no identity. And when you do not know who you are, you cannot identify your enemy. Without identity, there is no justice.

A giant bereft of identity needs an enemy bereft of identity: a tunnel, a missile, a mortar

Currently, Israel is employing advanced missiles against mortar shells, laser beams against kites and drones against balloons.

Zionism is fighting a rear-guard war.

Moshe Feiglin in the Knesset: Professional Army (eng subs available)

Liberty is a Two-Way Street

by Moshe Feiglin

I was invited to speak tonight at the major Chabad event at Rabin Square in Tel Aviv. The planned event in Tel Aviv touched off a firestorm of debate because it will include gender separation. One leftist politician has promised to legislate a bill prohibiting gender separation. Another promised that this will be the last event of its kind.

I will gladly attend – not only because of my family connection to Chabad and my love for this grand movement,

But because of my struggle for liberty in Israel.

Because liberty is not only the right to take your clothes off.

Liberty is also the right to dress modestly.

Liberty is not only the right to deny G-d’s relevance in our lives.

Liberty is also the right to profess faith in G-d.

Liberty is not only the right to curse.

Liberty is also the right to bless.

Liberty is not only the right to tattoo one’s body.

Liberty is also the right to don tefillin.

Liberty is not freedom.

Liberty is responsibility.

The Chabad movement lovingly takes responsibility for every Jew.

Chabad breathes the pure air of liberty

More than all the politicians who oppose the event.

Duma: It Can Happen to Anyone

by Moshe Feiglin

The confessions that were attained through torture of the youth in the Duma trial will not be considered valid – so the judges decided. But the confessions attained between one torture session and the next - will be considered valid. In all my years in politics, I have not met a statement as ugly and cynical as this - released by the judges in the case last week.

Obviously, teenagers who are held in prison for weeks on end without being allowed to consult with an attorney, who are prevented from sleeping, are tortured and degraded both physically and emotionally – will eventually sign anything and confess to anything. And then, in between one torture session and the next – or even if they are simply threatened with more torture - they will once again agree to sign.

When the Arabs in Gaza prepare incendiary balloons, our captious legal advisors prohibit the IDF from shooting at them, so that no legal rule or human right should be undermined, Heaven forfend. But when it comes to the hilltop youth, then “the roof will fall on our heads” (Bennett) if we do not throw all their basic human rights and every possible law to the wind. And “Who do you believe? Ayelet Shaked or (rightist lawyer) Itamar Ben Gvir?”

I believed Itamar Ben Gvir, because when you want to know if a politician is telling the truth, check what his possible interests could be. Bennett and Shaked stood to gain nothing politically by fighting against the tempestuous witch hunt against the hilltop youth that was led at the time by Bogi Ya’alon and the media.

This is in addition to the fact that before the arson that killed the Dawabshe family in Duma, a different house in Duma had already been torched, and another five homes were torched afterwards – all of them on the same street and all of them belonging to the extended Dawabshe family. The feuding Dawabshe clan also learned – what a surprise – to write “price tag” on the walls of the burned homes, to make it appear as though the house had been torched by hilltop youth.

But the media was eager for the blood of those vexatious hilltop youth with their large kippot and Bogi Ya’alon understood on which side his bread would be buttered. Instead of defending their constituents (the parents of those youths), Bennett and Shaked joined the witch hunt. And the Religious Zionist rabbis did not interfere (apparently, the food in prison is kosher).

That is how the State of Israel stooped to the level of torturing seven minors (who it called “ticking time-bombs”).

Just like Roman Zadorov, in jail for years after being falsely accused of murder, there are two boys still in prison – and the system will never admit that it was wrong.

Today it is me. Tomorrow, it is you.

Moshe Feiglin on Channel 20: Zehut is the Only Option (eng. subs available)

Royal Frailty

by Rabbi Ben Tzion Spitz

Don't forget your great guns, which are the most respectable arguments of the rights of kings. -Frederick the Great

The nation of Israel was nearing the end of their punishment of forty years of wandering in the desert. They were ready to enter the land that God had promised them. Just a couple of kingdoms stood in their way. Moses sends messengers to the first king in their path, Sichon, king of the Emorites. Moses asks for safe passage and offers to pay for anything the people of Israel would consume on the way. Sichon answers by marching his massive, overwhelming army towards the Israelite camp. However, a one-sided battle ensues with Israel completely annihilating the Emorite army and conquering the entirety of Sichon’s kingdom. The same exact scenario plays itself out with Og the giant, King of Bashan.

Rabbeinu Bechaya on Numbers Chapter 22 explains that both Sichon and Og relied on their strength of arms and the size of their armies. They assumed that the smaller, less experienced Israelite army would be easy to destroy. What they didn’t take into account is that while the might of a mortal king is defined by the strength and size of his army, such military force is meaningless to God. God is not defined by any physical attribute. God is the cause of every physical attribute.

The massive armies of Sichon and Og basically evaporated in front of God’s wishes for Israel to win the battle. The Torah reports that Israel killed every single combatant without losing one person on their side. This unnatural victory had Balak, King of Moab, scared witless. He was depending on his bigger, more powerful neighbors to defend him from what he saw as the Israelite threat. He abruptly discovered that the monarchs he felt were so strong, turned out to be of no consequence when facing God’s plans. All those men, all those armies that defined the strength of those kings, proved to be ephemeral.

Balak understood that physical force would have no effect against the nation of Israel. He then went on to try non-military strategies with mixed results. He had learned that in a world where God intervenes, strength of arms does not a king make.

May we realize where our true strengths lie.

Shabbat Shalom.

The Tragic Transgression Trilogy

Parashat Balak 5778
by HaRav Nachman Kahana

This week’s parasha completes the tragic transgression trilogy perpetrated by the Jews in their 40-year desert sojourn.

The first was the distortion of HaShem’s revelation at Sinai by the heretical, idolatrous worship of the Golden Calf, causing the death of 3,000 Jews. Followed by the refusal of the majority of the men to enter the Holy Land while under the influence of the Meraglim, which took a toll of hundreds of thousands between the ages of 20 and 60 who were condemned to die over the coming 38 years.

And in our parasha the sinful relationships with the daughters of Moav and Midyan, leading to the death of 24,000 Jews, including the head of the Tribe of Shimon.

Distortion of religious practice, refusal to enter the Holy Land, and intermarriage with gentiles; these three episodes committed in the period of 40 years led to the total removal of the generation that left Egypt; as if to say that HaShem had lost all hope for that generation and was “clearing the table” for a better, purer one.

New Chairman of the Jewish Agency
Labor MK Isaac Herzog was elected to succeed Natan Sharansky as the chairman of the Jewish agency executive.

Several quotes of Mr. Herzog:

“I take this challenge humbly. I know how difficult and challenging it is”.

“The world is a very small bridge. And the Jewish Agency in my mind is the narrow bridge that connects the State of Israel and the Jewish people wherever they are. It is that bridge that created the State of Israel, and the bridge brought millions of Jews to the State of Israel and this bridge now has to confront the great challenges that face our people”.

“The Jewish people are at a crossroads (presumably referring to a wide rift between Jews in Israel and the galut) especially regarding the Western Wall and the refusal of Israel to formally recognize the non-Orthodox break away streams of Judaism”.

“We have to do whatever we can to unify the Jewish people and make sure it is not split and divided”.

“We have to strengthen the centrality of Israel within the heart of every Jew, especially the young generations; to fight BDS [the anti-Israel Boycott, Divest and Sanctions movement], to educate, to connect and to promote aliyah [immigration], and to bring more and more Jews to Israel”.

“A Jew is a Jew is a Jew, and it doesn’t matter to what stream he belongs or what he wears on his head”. “We are all one people, and this is what we need to do to preserve and foster the great story of the Jews, and the great story of the State of Israel being the pumping heart of the Jewish people”.

My Advice for Mr. Isaac Herzog
Mr. Herzog gives the impression of being a sincere Israeli with a Jewish heart. His grandfather Harav Yitzchak Halaivi Herzog was one of the generation’s most respected Torah scholars, even obtaining several PHDs with one in Marine Biology to better understand the background of the Chilazon snail for purpose of producing the techelet color.

Mr. Herzog’s father, Chaim Herzog was a general in the IDF and a President of the country.

Mr. Herzog, I believe, is sincere in his desire to save what can yet be saved of the Jews in the galut.

However, sincerity in not enough to turn back the tide. The writing is on the wall, and like the last Babylonian king, Balshetzer, Mr. Herzog has been ill advised as to what the writing means. Because there is no way to save the Jewish communities in the galut, for two reasons:

1- The three cardinal sins of the Exodus generation are rampantly and shamelessly being repeated again today by the Jews of America, but this time they are being executed concurrently:
Distortion of religious practice, where the Reform and Conservative have so distorted our Torah that they have nothing in common with traditional Sinai Judaism.
The refusal to enter the holy land by all the various streams of Judaism from the unaffiliated to the extreme observant Chassidim and Lithuanian schools, qualify them as members in good standing in the Meraglim community.
Intermarriage with gentiles at the rate of 70-80 percent places them well within the category of the Jews who sinned with the Moabite and Midyanite women.

2- Even if all the Jews of America were sincerely observant there would still be no hope for them there. Because on the day the Medina was established a decree descended from heaven to end the 2000-year galut experience, and all Jews are now required to return home. When the gates of the holy land are wide open for aliya and a Jew refuses to enter, it is a major chilul Hashem that turns each and every one, regardless of status, into an ingrate before the great salvation of over 2000 years that HaShem has performed for his people Yisrael.

My advice to Mr. Herzog is to stop supporting groups and newly developing communities and concentrate on saving individual Jews by bringing them home.

Every dollar spent in trying to strengthen Reform and Conservative movements will only buy more nails for the coffin of galut Jewry.

I have said in the past and will continue to say that on the day the Medina was established a decree was passed in the Shamayim that the 2000-year galut will slowly wilt and fade away.

Those who will return will survive; the refuseniks will be eliminated from our history as if they were never born.

This applies to grand rabbis and pulpit rabbis down to the most ignorant reform leader who after voiding the Torah and Judaism from all truth are attempting to gain a foothold here in the Holy Land.

Godspeed to you Mr. Herzog in your holy mission to save as many Jews as possible, by bringing them from the “Jewish Titanic” of America into the life-giving shelter of Eretz Yisrael.

Shabbat Shalom,
Nachman Kahana
Copyright © 5778/2018 Nachman Kahana

The Power of Doing Everything for the Wrong Reasons

by Rabbi Pinchas Winston

Bilaam said to Balak, "Build me seven altars here, and prepare for me seven bulls and seven rams." (Bamidbar 23:1)

THE TALMUD SAYS something that could easily be taken for granted, but shouldn’t be. It has so much to say about how Hashgochah Pratis works, and clearly few people know it, based upon their approach to Jewish history.

From the Talmud:

Rav Yehudah said in the name of Rav: A man should always occupy himself with Torah and the commandments even if it is not for their own sake, because from [occupying himself with them] not for their own sake he comes to do so for their own sake. As a reward for the 42 sacrifices which Balak, king of Moav, offered, he merited that Rus should come from him and from her descended Shlomo . . . (Sotah 47a)

The first part of this statement requires discussion, but is certainly understandable. Torah is powerful and has a way of impacting even people who do not intend to be impacted by it. So as bad as it is to learn Torah for the wrong reasons, it is still better than not learning it all, because doing so can lead to learning it for the right reasons.

Just how far does this idea go? There must be many examples over the course of Jewish history of those who sat down to learn Torah for the wrong reasons, and ended up learning it for the right reasons. I’ve personally witnessed some of these stories.

However, the Talmud doesn’t turn to such examples to make its point. It doesn’t even use a story about someone learning Torah or performing mitzvos for the wrong reasons. Balak never did come to do either for the right reasons. Instead, he had a descendant he would have preferred not to have if he knew who she would be.

In fact, Balak probably wouldn’t have offered his 42 sacrifices if he knew at the time that eventually they would result in the ancestress of Moshiach. He offered them as a bribe to God, to allow him to harm the people God said to leave alone. Why does he deserve ANY reward at all?

He didn’t. And, he certainly would NOT have considered it a reward to provide the family line of Moshiach Ben Dovid. Even in the World-to-Come, where a person no longer harbors the evil feelings he had in this world, Balak will not have the satisfaction of knowing that he set in motion the birth of the righteous Rus, since he had no intention of doing so.

Rather, the Talmud is teaching an additional lesson with its example of non-altruistic intentions leading to altruistic results. It is teaching that a good act, even if done for the wrong reasons, will ultimately have a good result. Perhaps not for the person who did it, and they certainly won’t be rewarded for it if it had not been their intention, but for Creation as a whole. Offering sacrifices to the RIGHT God, even for the wrong reason, had a RIGHT effect.

It all comes back to this idea of energy which, by definition, is spiritual. God is the Source of all energy, so by definition every thing has to be spiritual, even if it can act very physical. Energy may flow from a waterfall to a generator and then through wires to a house, but it is God Who supplies the energy in the first place. It doesn’t just exist in Creation by itself.

Therefore, whenever a person does anything, they are tapping into Divine energy to accomplish it. If it is a holy act, they draw from the Divine Source directly. If they perform an unholy act, like witchcraft, then they draw from it indirectly. Because of the impurity associated with the act, the energy has to be rerouted away from its holy Source, and to give the impression that witchcraft has power of its own, to test the belief of those turning to it (Chullin 7b).

How far does this idea go?

VERY far.

This is why some extremely destructive acts by some of the worst enemies of the Jewish people have eventually resulted in something very positive. It had been Hitler’s, ysv”z, plan to exterminate the Jewish people, but instead he inadvertently accelerated the next stage of redemption. When people say that “Eretz Yisroel was built upon the ashes of the Holocaust,” they don’t realize to what extent this is true.

We are well aware that the Nazis went to great trouble and expense to concentrate Jews in specific locations, either in work or death camps. What people do not realize is that this was only possible after “ingathering” Jews from around Europe, after detaching them from their homes and communities. It made redemption and aliyah more attractive for all those who could not think in those terms previously.

The Nazis also made a point of numbering every Jew, regardless of religious affiliation. The Germans did not care how religious a Jew thought they were or wanted to be. They laid down the rule: a Jew is a Jew is a Jew, something we had forgotten and let get in the way of our national unity.

They also made a point of reducing each Jew to their most basic reality. They took away all differences that previously separated one Jew from another, religious and material, until we were all basically the same. Even intellectual differences were eroded over time because of the constant cruel and inhumane treatment. It was “Achdus,” the name for Jewish unity, but from the other side of reality, the evil and impure side.

It is debatable as to what positive results came from such evil and destruction. And, there will be an accounting for how much blood had to be spilled to make it possible, something that should have happened positively, from the side of good and holiness. We can only talk about what we see, and that is, the Jewish homeland is back in Jewish hands, and built up in preparation for the Final Redemption.

Some will argue that there is nothing positive about the modern, secular State of Israel, certainly not from a Torah and redemption point of view. They would have been impressed had Torah Jews been the ones to re-found the Jewish commonwealth, and established a Torah government on the land.

THAT, the Ramchal and the GR”A explain, is only possible when the merit exists for such a fantastic turn of events. THAT is the kind of story end that results when a significant amount of the nation does teshuvah first, and the leaders somehow manage to get their followers in line, and with each other. That was not pre-war Jewish people at all.

So, as the Ramchal and GR”A explains, when that is the case, then the Jewish people must first sink as low as the dust before they can finally rise once again. They must hit the lowest of lows before they can finally move back in the direction of redemption. And even then, they explain, the people only have to do a minimal amount of work to rise up again, the bulk of the salvation being God’s only. That has certainly been the last 80 years, and now we await Moshiach Ben Dovid to take us the final distance.

So, in the end, unbeknownst to Balak, he helped lay the foundation thousands of years ago for the redemption for which we are anxiously awaiting. Let it be OUR sacrifices that help finish the job, from the side of holiness.

Rabbi Ari Kahn on Parashat Balak: Children of Avraham

The Yishai Fleisher Show: Bizarro Moses

This town ain't big enough for two super-prophets! Rabbi Mike joins Rabbi Yishai to discuss the epic story of Bilaam, the evil wizard, who came to curse Israel in the moment of God's rage. Then, Malkah joins in to talk about Prince William's visit to the Holy Land and summer for kids in Israel.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

William in Jerusalem

Editorial of The New York Sun | June 25, 2018

Too bad Menachem Begin isn’t alive to see Prince William’s visit to Israel. Begin was the leader of the underground who led the revolt against the British that led to the emergence of the Jewish State. There was a time when Begin’s face was plastered on a British wanted poster. Now William’s is the first official state visit by a member of the Royal Family that once held the Palestine Mandate.

HISTORY's TRICKS: How Menachem Begin would have enjoyed Prince William's visit to Israel that starts this evening. Israel's 6th Prime Minister was once on a British wanted poster for his role in the underground movement that eventually led the revolt against the British Mandate. Later as prime minister of the Jewish state, Begin sent a letter to Prince Charles and Lady Diana congratulating them on the birth of their first son. Charles and Diana sent a warm reply. When William is eventually anointed, it will be to a hymn about Zadok, Nathan, and Solomon. Begin would have enjoyed that, too.

How Begin would have enjoyed the moment today. We gained a glimpse of that in 1983, when, as a young editor of the Wall Street Journal, we interviewed Begin in his office in Jerusalem. The invasion of Lebanon had just begun, and Begin was in an upbeat mood. When the question of Britain came up, Begin expressed warm sentiments toward Prince Charles and Princess Diana.

Begin remarked that he’d sent the royal couple a note of congratulations on the birth of Prince William and had received a lovely reply. Then he asked his omnipresent secretary, Yechiel Kadishai, to see if he could find the letter. Kadishai dashed into a side office and emerged moments later with the epistle from England, a friendly note signed “Charles” and “Diana.”

Begin and his guests sat there and kvelled over the surprises that history is capable of springing. Certainly the validation of the visit by the prince on whose birth Begin had sent congratulations would not have been lost on him — nor will it, one can guess, be lost on any of those who lead Israel today, including President Rivlin and Prime Minister Netanyahu, and the leaders of other Mideast states.

William’s visit certainly comes at a moment when the wind is at Israel’s back. It’s not just that an American president has, in Donald Trump, finally bowed to the American Congress and moved our embassy to the capital of the Jewish state. It’s also that the Arab states are starting, if only that, to see a commonality of interest with Israel against an aggressive Islamist regime in Iran.

Just this week, Israel Hayom reported that “top officials in the moderate Arab nations” are signaling that they would “back an American ‎peace plan for the region regardless of whether the ‎Palestinian Authority agrees to discuss it.” That doesn’t mean peace is around the corner. A war with Iran and its proxies is brewing. The moment, though, does suggest that amid all the turmoil Israel is still steadily gaining ground.

Britain itself has been far from perfect on Israel. It voted in the Security Council for Resolution 2334. That was the vote opposing Israel’s settlement of the lands of Judea and Samaria that were liberated by Israel during the wars launched against the Jewish state. It has not stopped William from making a friendly visit to the capital whose old city Kensington Palace describes as occupied Palestinian territory.

So William’s visit is a nice moment. And not just for Israel. Britain can be proud of how the lands it once administered have prospered. The Sun has no use for colonialism. Yet the states that learned administration under British rule — America, Botswana, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Israel, India, among others — have fared relatively well. As is the obverse. When William is eventually anointed, after all, it will be to a hymn about Solomon. We can imagine Begin would have enjoyed that, too.

Rav Kook on Parashat Balak: An Eternal People

Together with Shema
In the parasha of Balak, we find prophetic verses of exquisite beauty and an inspiring story of God’s vigilant watch over the Jewish people. But to truly appreciate this Torah portion, consider this remarkable teaching of the Sages.

The Talmud (Berachot12b) relates that at one time the rabbis contemplated incorporating the parasha of Balak into the daily prayers, alongside the recitation of the Shema. This is truly astounding. What lesson is contained in the words of Balaam - a villainous prophet, steeped in blind hatred for the Jewish people — that could possibly compare to the Torah’s most fundamental beliefs, as delineated in the Shema, the centerpiece of Jewish prayer?

Fortunately, the Talmud clues us in to what makes this parashahso special. Its unique message may be found in the following verse, comparing the Jewish people to a fearsome lion:

“[Israel] crouches; he lies like a lion and a lioness. Who dares rouse him?” (Num. 24:9)

Yes, it is a beautiful metaphor describing the timeless strength and vitality of the Jewish people. But does this verse justify reading the entire portion of Balak twice a day, together with the Shema?

The Missing Link
Clearly, the Sages saw an inner link between Balak and the Shema. In order to understand this connection, we must first analyze the principal themes of the Shema. The Sages taught (Berachot13a) that the first passage of the Shema expresses God’s unity and our acceptance of His rule; and that the theme of the second passage is our acceptance of the mitzvot.

However, these two axioms of Judaism — accepting God’s reign and accepting His mitzvot — are missing a common link. What is it that combines them, leading to universal acceptance of God through the performance of mitzvot? The missing link is the Jewish people.

The lofty aspirations expressed in the Shema necessitate the existence of a nation who, throughout the generations, observes the mitzvot and introduces the concept of God’s unity to the world. This is the mission of the Jewish people. In fact, they were created specifically for this purpose: “This people I created for Me, [so that] they will proclaim My praise” (Isaiah 43:21).

Now we can understand why the Sages wanted to add this particular verse to the recital of the Shema. Balaam poetically compared the Jewish people to a sleeping lion that none dare disturb. Everyone fears the formidable powers of this majestic creature, even when it sleeps. The latent power of the Jewish people is such that, even when ’sleeping’ — even when they are exiled from their land and many of their unique national institutions (the Temple, Sanhedrin, kohanim, prophets, etc.) are dormant — nonetheless, their eternal nature is legendary. [1]

The survival of the Jewish people throughout the generations, despite all odds, and in violation of all laws of history, enables them to persist in their mission of proclaiming God’s unity. Their indestructible nature is in itself a sanctification of God’s Name.

Jewish Nationalism
If the significance of the parashahof Balak can be reduced to this single verse, then why not just add that verse to the daily prayers? Why add the entire section?

The Talmud explains that we may not add the verse by itself, since the Torah should not be broken up arbitrarily. “Any section that Moses did not divide, we may not divide.”

This explanation is difficult to understand. We find many individual verses incorporated in the liturgy. Why not this one?

It appears that detaching this particular verse from the rest of Balaam’s prophecy poses a special danger. By itself, the verse could be construed as extolling nationalism for its own sake. The unique strength of the Jewish people is not meant to serve the goals of self-centered nationalism, military conquest, or national aggrandizement. The eternal nature of Israel must be understood within the context of their unique mission: to promulgate God’s Name in the world. Therefore we must take care not to separate this verse from the rest of the portion.

Appreciating the Message of Balak
In the end, the Sages did not add the parashahof Balak to the daily prayers. They felt that such a lengthy addition would be too great a burden for the people.

Reading this portion would be a burden, since its message is not applicable to every generation. Not every generation is able to appreciate the role that Israel’s timeless vitality plays in achieving its spiritual goals. Yet the very fact that the Sages wanted to incorporate it in the prayers indicates that a time will come when this message will be accepted and internalized by the nation as a whole.

(Sapphire from the Land of Israel. Adapted from Ein Eyahvol. I, pp. 67-68)
[1]Mark Twain wrote in 1898:

“[The Jew] has made a marvelous fight in the world, in all the ages; and has done it with his hands tied behind him. He could be vain of himself, and be excused for it. The Egyptian, the Babylonian, and the Persian rose, filled the planet with sound and splendor, then faded to dream-stuff and passed away; the Greek and the Roman followed, and made a vast noise, and they are gone; other peoples have sprung up and held their torch high for a time, but it burned out, and they sit in twilight now, or have vanished.

The Jew saw them all, beat them all, and is now what he always was, exhibiting no decadence, no infirmities of age, no weakening of his parts, no slowing of his energies, no dulling of his alert and aggressive mind. All things are mortal but the Jew; all other forces pass, but he remains. What is the secret of his immortality?” (Concerning The Jews,Harper’s Magazine, March 1898).

The Shamrak Report: Gaza-Game of Pretend Retaliations! and more...

Rocket sirens blared in the south throughout the early morning hours on Wednesday, as barrages totaling some 45 rockets and mortar shells were fired toward Israeli towns. Barrages commence after IAF strikes a Hamas post in response to incendiary balloons launched from strip. At least 5 projectiles fall in border towns, including one near a kindergarten; Israeli jets strike 25 military targets throughout the coastal enclave, Gaza.
Hamas, meanwhile, blamed Israel for the escalation of violence, saying it had “changed the rules of engagement” by adopting the policy of targeting Hamas positions in response to kite- and balloon-borne arson attacks, after more than 400 fires have consumed more than 30,000 hectares of crops and nature reserves in southern Israel.
(Why did it take so long, and so much destruction in Israel to fight kite attacks? Not a single Hamas leader has been targeted! No real damage to terrorist infrastructure is done! Business of inept tit-for-tat game is still on!)
Israel has temporarily reduced its participation with the UN Human Rights Council after the United States pulled out. “We are withdrawing from the UNHRC, an organization that is not worthy of its name,” said Ambassador Nikki Haley. (When will government of the wimp, Netanyahu, leave Ghetto mentality behind?)
Food for Thought. by Steven Shamrak
Jews are blamed for 'creating' capitalism and Communism; for being the foundation of Christianity and rejecting it; for being the best scientists and criminals. Therefore, conclusion is - Anti-Semites are able to find or create any reason to justify their hate for Jews! Solution: We need to stop being apologetic and become self-respectful and assertive!
UNESCO to go a FULL YEAR without having passed any anti-Israel resolutions denying Jewish history. This is a significant achievement because the discussions will take place in the Gulf emirate of Bahrain, which will not be attended by the ambassadors of Israel, the United States, and the European Union.
A review of the 200 state land tenders featured on the Israel Land Authority website has found that the authority systematically limits tenders for land in Arab communities to “local residents" (but not Jews). In contrast, tenders in Jewish communities like Katzir, Poria Illit, Immanuel, Metula and even Savyon are open to any citizen interested in submitting an application to purchase land.
A member of Fatah's al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades says Mahmoud Omar, who was arrested during a border riot, told his investigators that Yahya Sinwar had paid his niece's parents NIS 8,000 to tell media that eight-month-old Leila al-Ghandour had died from tear gas inhalation rather than fatal blood condition that runs in her family.
77,100 Israeli residents received academic titles from institutions of higher education in Israel during the 5777 (2016/17) school year - 41,600 of the graduates came from universities, 25,800 from academic colleges, and 9,700 from education colleges. This is a 1.4% rise in the number of title recipients compared to the previous year. Women were the majority among first and second degree recipients (60.7% and 63.2% respectively), and more than half of third degree recipients (53.1%).
Facing a major funding shortfall, the UN refugee agency for 'Palestinian refugees' is planning to defer payment of salaries and suspend some of its operations in Gaza, as the United States cut $250 million from its budget. In March, the UN raised $100 million for UNRWA during a conference in Rome but fell short of the $446 million needed to keep the agency afloat. (There are many genuine refugees around the world who need help. Fake Palestinians are not refugees and do not deserve help!)
The Rafah Crossing between the Gaza Strip and Egypt will remain open “until further notice". Gaza’s residents will now be able to leave and return to the strip through Egypt without having to wait, as they have been forced to do in recent years.
The United States withdrew from the United Nations Human Rights Council over its biased treatment of Israel and its failure to address serious abuses throughout the world. “The US is officially withdrawing from the UNHRC. This step is not a retreat from human rights commitments. We take this step because our commitment does not allow us to remain a part of a hypocritical and self serving organization that makes a mockery of human rights,” US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley said. (Although it was done after UNHRC criticised the US immigration policy!)
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's video offer of Israeli water technology-sharing with Iran drew 5 million views in its first five days online. Nearly 100,000 Iranians joined Israel's Farsi-language Telegram account within 24 hours. A comment said: "We wish them death, they bless us with life."
The Shin Bet announced that former minister Gonen Segev had acted against the State of Israel and spied for Iran. Segev, along with others, was enticed by then Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin to cast the crucial vote for the Oslo Accords.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has ordered the postponement of the evacuation and demolition of five illegal buildings in the Palestinian village of Khirbet Susya in South Mount Hebron. Everything was already prepared for the evacuation. Just a week before, the security forces evacuated two Jewish outposts Netiv Ha’avot in Gush Etzion and Tapuach West in Samaria. (There was no international pressure to stop it, and no last moment cancellation issued by the PM!)
Nabil Abu Rudeineh, a spokesman for Palestinian Authority (PA) chairman Mahmoud Abbas, downplayed US efforts to promote peace talks between Israel and the PA. He said that so-called "Deal of the Century" will never be a prelude to a successful political process as long as the city of Al-Quds (the Arabic name for Jerusalem) and the issue of the “Palestinian refugees” are not included in it. (This is “Stating the Obvious”. Positions of both sides are irreconcilable - only removal of its enemies from Jewish land will resolve most of the problems Israel has with Arab terror!)
Russian National Day in Jerusalem
The Russian Embassy in Israel hosted its National Day reception in Jerusalem, for the first time after Moscow’s recognition of Western Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. The event took place at Sergei’s Courtyard, a historic complex in the central Jerusalem district known as the Russian Compound. (One step at a time!)
Four army recruits were given two weeks in prison, after refusing to visit grave of former PM Rabin for ideological reasons. It should be noted that the four recruits asked politely from their commanders not to visit the grave. "Rabin and Peres represent something political that for them is a disaster, and they do not want to be educated. They did not show disrespect and did not cause a scene, but merely asked that their feelings be taken into consideration," the source said.(Brave guys – leftist and anti-Zionist indoctrination of IDF personal must not be tolerated!)
The US Congress is moving to block the delivery of first Lockheed Martin F-35 jet fighters to Turkey come June 12, at this point, not because of Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s support for the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas, but... (Any excuse will do!)
The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) hit nine targets in northern Gaza a week ago in response to explosive kite attacks aimed at southern Israel. (Always 'retaliating' not ACTING - wars can't be won this way!)
The soccer’s world governing body rejected a demand presented by PA Football Association to impose sanctions on and ‎‎‎‎suspend Israel and other countries that “violate citizens’ ‎rights.‎” The bid, which clearly targeted Israel, was struck down ‎by a majority vote of ‎‎82 percent to ‎‎18 percent. The move backfired further when Rajoub was informed ‎that FIFA has decided to launch disciplinary ‎proceedings ‎against him over his verbal incitement ‎against Israel. (Quite an unexpected change, but it is welcomed!)
QUOTE of the WEEK:
"Many proposed laws in Israel are aborted at their earliest stage because of threats by the Attorney general... This dangerous, common place phenomenon in Israel is an extreme rarity in the United States... In the 25-year period there have been approximately 420 laws passed by the Knesset, compared with over 5100 laws passed by the US Congress." – David Kirshenbaum – Israel’s legal system, is infested by, anti-Zionist leftist cronies, who have been systematically undermining the Jewish and Zionist character of the country - the inspiration of the Jewish people, and putting the future of the country in danger. It could even be described as “aiding and abetting the enemy”!
Cancer Must be Removed!
by Steven Shamrak
(I wrote this article on 19th of October 2006 – still valid!)
Some people call the Hamas victory "The earthquake" I call it a normal, predictable and logical step of the bogus peace process. The first statement made by Hamas after the election was: "Negotiating with Israel and recognition are not on our agenda. The armed struggle will continue."
In spite of the fact that the PLO/Fatah has never removed the clause, calling for the destruction of Israel, from their charter, Israel negotiated! Between September 2000 and April 2004, Hamas perpetrated 425 terrorist attacks against Israel and murdered 377 Israelis. One terrorist organization replaced another! Negotiations with the killers who want to put Jews to "the sea" have produced only more killings, more terror and more Jewish self-doubt. Spin-doctors have already started creating the 'human face' of Hamas.
At the same time, the Hamas' victory and Arabs' predictable actions in the near future can be used by Israel as an opportunity to reclaim the Jewish ancestral land. Too often Israel has ignored and missed these opportunities.
When everything else fails, oncologists use surgery in order to remove cancerous tissues and save the life of a patient. All attempts and compromises made by Israel to achieve peace have failed. It is time to start implementing the unilateral plan of establishing permanent peace in the Middle East. The victory of Hamas could be viewed as a blessing in disguise.
Instead of making 'brave' and empty statements, the Israeli government must make plans for decisive retaliations to the attacks that are going to follow this 'historic' victory. The next time a suicide bomber or an Arab gunman commits acts of terror against Jews all their extended family must be deported from the Jewish lands. After the next rocket is fired toward Israel from Gaza, all Arab residents must be transferred from Gaza to Sinai or to any of 56 Muslim states of their choice. Our enemies understand only the language of power and supremacy. Let them have it! It will bring Israel closer to a full control of the Jewish ancestral land and will resolve Israel’s demographic problem. This is the only way toward peace and achievement of the Jewish National Goal.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

“To you will I give the Land of Canaan, the lot of your inheritance.”

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 by Pe’or.

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 endure.

“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,
Shabbat Shalom.

Mashiach and the Ingathering of the Exiles

by HaRav Mordechai Greenberg
Nasi HaYeshiva, Kerem B'Yavneh

The concept of the Mashiach has its source in our parsha, according to the Rambam (Hil. Melachim 11:1):

The Messiah king is destined to rise and to return the Davidic dynasty to its former state, to its initial rule. He will build the Temple and gather the dispersed Jews ... Whoever does not believe in him, or does not wait for his coming, denies not only the other prophets, but rather the Torah and Moshe Rabbeinu, since the Torah testifies about [the Mashiach], as it says: "Hashem, your G-d, will bring back your captivity and have mercy upon you, and He will gather you in ... If your dispersed will be at the ends of Heaven ... Hashem, your G-d, will bring you back to the Land" (Devarim 30:3-5) ... It is also mentioned in the parsha of Bilaam, and there he prophesied about the two Messiahs: the first Messiah, who is David, who delivered Israel from their enemies, and the final Messiah, who will rise from his descendents, who will deliver Israel in the end. There [Bilaam] says, "I shall see him, but not now" (Bamidbar 24:17) -- this is David; "I shall look at him, but it is not near" -- this is the Messiah king.

We need to understand the Rambam's statement that one who denies the coming of the Mashiach denies the Torah, "since the Torah testifies about him, as it says, 'Hashem, your G-d, will bring back your captivity.'" Where do we find in the Torah a connection between the return to Zion and the Mashiach, so that one who denies the ingathering of the exile is considered as denying the Mashiach?

Furthermore, where in the Torah do we find that there is a special mitzvah to await the coming of the Mashiach, and that belief that he will come is insufficient?

On this pasuk, "I shall look at him but it is not near" (ashurenu velo karov), which speaks about the Mashiah according to the Rambam, Sha'arei Ora cites Rashi's comment on the pasuk, "kenamer al derech ashur" (Hoshea 13:7). Rashi explains the word ashur here does not refer to the place, Ashur (Assyria), but rather it means "I will lie in wait, or lurk" (like a leapord I will lurk on the road), as in "ashurenu velo karov." Thus, the word ashurenu has the connotation of lying in wait, like an ambush who awaits the person who is supposed to pass by. So, too, ashurenu -- I will await this event consistently and with diligence.

Thus, the meaning of ashurenu is anticipation to see something -- in our context, eager anticipation towards the coming of the Mashiach.

Rav Zvi Yehuda Kook zt"l pointed to a further connection between Mashiach and the ingathering of the exiles. In Parshat Shemini there is a list of unkosher birds, "the tinshemet the kaat and the racham" (Vayikra 11:18). The Gemara (Chulin 63a) identifies the racham as the shrakrak. "R. Yochanan says: Why is he called racham? When the racham comes -- rachamim (mercy) comes to the world." The Gemara explains that if it stands on ground and whistles (shorek), it is a sign that the Mashiach is coming, as it says, "I will whistle to them and gather them." (Zechariah 10:8) Thus, the ingathering of the exiles is connected to the coming of the Messiahs, and the two are interdependent.

Rav Kook adds the Tur (O.C. #286) writes that in Ashkenaz the practice is to say in Shabbat Musaf, "Tikanta Shabbat ratzita korbenoteha." This prayer is based on the backwards aleph-bet of TaSHRaK signifying the redemption, as it says, "I will whistle (eshreka) to them and gather them." The Beit Yosef explains that the redemption will ultimately come in the merit of Shabbat, as it says, "The barren ones who observe my Shabbat ... I will bring them to My holy mountain." (Yeshaya 56:4-7) The inverted aleph-bet of TaSHRaK indicates backwards order, since the order of the redemption will raise many strong questions.

Rav Teichtel zt"l writes about this in Em Habanim Semeichah:

Why will this be, to herald the greatest news that we await for with eager anticipation specifically through unkosher birds? ... The truth is, as Iyov already said, "Can you achieve an understanding of G-d?" (Iyov 11:7) Who can achieve and who can understand His ways? "[Only] G-d understands its way" (28:23), why He accomplishes his errand through this creature, and what issue do you have with these Divine secrets?! ... Our saintly Rebbe, in the holy work, Noam Elimelech calls the wicked of Israel "unkosher birds," and writes based upon the Kabbalah that they are the unkosher birds mentioned in the Torah [who will herald the redemption].

If Bilaam Would Have Lived in Our Generation

by Rabbi Dov Berl Wein

Poor Balak and Bilaam. If they would have lived in our generation they would have undoubtedly received great and favorable media coverage, interviews on CNN and invitations to speak at the Hebrew University to tell their side of the story.

The part about the speaking donkey would certainly have made for great feature articles where it would be pointed out that Bilaam is not to be blamed for beating his animal - rather it is all the fault of that conquering, occupying, bullying angel that inserted himself into the picture.

Yet, no matter what the revisionist historians will say, Balak and Bilaam remain the guilty villains in Jewish tradition and minds. There was no justification to demonize and curse an entire people who intended to do you no harm. Bilaam is a non-governmental, allegedly not-for-profit, one man organization, proclaiming great ideals while at the same time condoning enslavement and murder of thousands. And, in spite of his protestations of idealism and even-handedness, he is for hire..

He is the original spin artist, the public relations genius, the amoral unprincipled guru looking always for new clients. He is so good and effective at his task that apparently only the Lord Himself is able to rein him in and make his speak truths and blessings when that was not his original intent.

Bilaam is toppled from his self-importance by the God that he claims to represent and have contact with. His ultimate punishment is not so much his death at the hands of the Jews but it is the humiliating experience of being forced to bless when he intended and promised his employer to curse. Poor Bilaam - he should have waited a few millennia to ply his trade.

The Talmud teaches us that Bilaam’s antipathy to the Jewish people was already apparent at the beginning of the Jewish sojourn in Egypt. He was the advisor to the Pharaoh who recommended that Pharaoh enslave the Jewish people and kill all of their male children. When God, through Moshe, thwarted that evil design and Israel emerged triumphant from Egypt in great numbers Bilaam tried a different tack using Balak in his effort to destroy the Jewish people.

And finally when this scheme is stopped by Divine intervention, he advises the use of lust and sinfulness to destroy Israel. His advice costs the lives of twenty-four thousand Jews. No wonder Jews throughout the ages have characterized Bilaam as ‘Bilaam harasha’ - Bilaam, the evil one. He has no reason or justification for his malevolence and enmity.

It is just there, like much of the anti-Semitism that infects a great deal of the supposedly civilized intellectual world today. It is difficult to deal with such baseless yet intense hatred and venom.

I think it obvious that God intervenes to spare us from many of the actions of our enemies and friends. Thus the story of Balak and Bilaam remains relevant and current as the topics and events in our world today. Balak and Bilaam are able to exact a price from us in lives, fortune and social standing. But now, as then, they are unable to defeat us.

Treated Like a Son – For Better and Worse

by HaRav Shaul Yisraeli zt"l

An entire parasha is dedicated to the story of Bilam and his blessings. What is the reason that Hashem decided it is so important to us?

It is possible that it comes from the desire to show Bnei Yisrael’s level at that time, which made them fit for such blessings. This, in turn, sheds light on the events that occurred in the desert. If we read the previous parshiyot, describing the people’s complaints and quarrels, we might conclude that this was a lowly stage in our nation and that we did not really deserve to receive the Torah. However, Chazal laud this generation as the "dor de’ah (the generation of knowledge)" (Vayikra Rabba 9:1). The Torah thus shows how the brilliant enemy of the Jews, Bilam, looked for blemishes to throw at us and was unable to find them. He was left with no choice but to make such declarations as "How good are your tents, oh Jacob?" (Bamidbar 24:5).
Indeed, from the non-Jewish perspective, i.e., in comparison to what Bilam knew of the rest of the world, Bnei Yisrael’s level was indeed unprecedentedly high. The reason that the Torah contains harsh criticism of the nation is because they are not judged like anyone else. It is not enough to be relatively good. It is Bnei Yisrael’s responsibility to elevate themselves and, in the process, raise other nations along with them.

The above idea finds expression in the pasuk: "… for as a man disciplines his son Hashem disciplines you" (Devarim 8:5). We find two different kinds of strict discipline for the purpose of educating: a father who strikes his son and a teacher who strikes his student. There is a difference between the two phenomena. A (fair) teacher will only resort to strict discipline if his student is not performing reasonably. If he is doing most of what he is supposed to and especially if he is doing a good job, he will be left alone. After all, he will be as good as or better than his peers. A father is different. He doesn’t care if other children are better or worse. He wants perfection from his son and the fulfillment of his potential.

That is what the Torah says about Israel. Why should they be punished if they are better than Yishmael and Edom, Put, Luv, and Canaan? The Torah says that this is a mistake, as we are disciplined as a father disciplines his son. We are not at all compared to other nations.

Bilam's Predicament

by HaRav Zalman Baruch Melamed
Rosh HaYeshiva, Beit El
Dedicated to the memory of R. Avraham Ben David
Prophecy No Guarantee of Greatness
King David testifies regarding himself: "My heart was not haughty and I did not look down on others." Our sages, with an eye to clarifying the difference between the "students of Bilam" and those of Avraham Avinu, say:

"Anyone who possesses these three qualities is considered to be the of the students of Avraham Avinu; anyone, however, who possesses three other qualities is the student of Bilam: "One with a kind eye, a humble spirit and one with a nefesh shefeila - is of the students of Avraham Avinu; one with an envious eye, a haughty spirit and a nefesh rechava : of the students of the wicked Bilam".

Bilam was a prophet with great spiritual powers; our Sages recognized this greatness: "There was no prophet in Israel who reached the level of Moshe," they note, citing the Torah. " In Israel there was no prophet like Moshe , but amongst the non-Jewish nations there was. Why [was the gentile world provided with a great prophet]? So the non-Jews would not have the opportunity to claim, 'if we would have been led by a prophet on the level of Moshe, we would have served God, too. What prophet were they led by who reached the level of Moshe? Bilam the son of Be’or".

Although he had, as we noted, great spiritual powers, he was held back by his poor moral and personal qualities. A person like this ends up channeling his spiritual energies negatively. In contrast, good moral conduct and personal qualities are key elements in the essence of the Jew, and are entrenched deep within his soul.

A 'kind eye' is a quality that refers to a positive approach to everything created in the world. A humble spirit is, as the term states, the quality of modesty and humility, whereas a nefesh shefeila is possessed by someone who does not pursue material luxuries. Bilam’s haughtiness is quite evident through the verses in this week's Torah portion. So is his pursuit of material pleasures.

Bilam claims, in response to the requests of Balak's messengers, that "God will not permit me to go with you ." Rashi, following the lead of the midrash, notes Bilam's intention: "With you, he will not let me go, but He will permit me to go with more important people than you." Bilam seeks honor.

After that, he says: "If [Balak] provides me a house full of silver and of gold [I will not transgress the word of God ..." From here, we learn that Bilam is actually interested in silver and gold, but refrains from taking such gifts - in response to the Divine command forbidding him to do so.

The Talmud in Tractate Sanhedrin lists those people considered by halacha to have forfeited their share in the world-to-come. It spends an inordinate amount of time describing Bilam’s behavior. The moral flaw of Bilam was internal - it seriously blemished all of his great personal powers.
The Power of Speech
"And God opened the mouth of the donkey." This aspect of the story hints that even for Bilam, the great prophet, for whom speech was his main asset - the power of speech derives from Hashem, and is, in the end, a function of His will. Because God is ultimately in control, the otherwise great "speaker" can be made speechless, and the donkey, which doesn’t know how to speech, can have its mouth opened.
Nowhere to Move
As the events unfold, the Torah describes how, after the donkey travels in a open area, with plenty of room on all sides, it ultimately finds itself unable to maneuver from side to side. Finally, it cannot budge left or right. Obviously, this part of the story contains some deeper meaning that must be elucidated. This is how our sages explained it:

"What were these signs? If Bilam was about to attempt to curse the children of Avraham, he would find, from both sides, the sons of Yishma’el and the sons of Ketura; if he were to try to curse the sons of Yitzchak, he would find among them the sons of Esav; in an effort to curse the sons of Ya’akov, he would be unsuccessful, because he would not find any weak point at which he could smite them. Therefore, regarding the third maneuver by the donkey the Torah says: ‘[it stood] in a narrow place.’ This is a reference to Ya’akov.’ There was nowhere to move, neither right nor left - since he could not find a blemish in any one of Ya’akov’s children." (Bamidbar Rabba 20, 14)

Bilam tried to hit at the root of the Jewish nation, at its forefathers. When he sought to strike at the children of Avraham, there was ‘room’ for him to do so, since many of Avraham’s seed was far from perfect: the sons of Yishma’el and the sons of Ketura. Moreover, when he sought to strike at Yitzchak, there was ‘room’ to do this also, vis-a-vis Esav, a son of Yitzchak. However, when he sought to harm the sons of Ya’akov , he literally had "nowhere to go." He had no other way to proceed except to bless