Vertlach: Balak


This weeks דבר תורה  is לזכות רפואה שלימה ל-אברהם בייניש בן גאלדה שפרינצה.
ולאה בת חנה
And לזכר נשמת ר’ אברהם בן שמחה זצ”ל
ר’ חיים בן ר’ צבי ארי-ה זצ”ל
ור’ יחיאל יהודה בן ר’ אברהם מרדכי הכהן זצ”לור’ אליהו מרדכי זצ”ל בן ר’ אברהם יעקב נ”י

This weeks parsha has the infamous story that Bilam’s donkey spoke and answered him back. If you read through the dialogue, you’ll notice the following. Bilam was told by Hashem not to go, but he still goes. He then sattles his own donkey and leaves with the officers from Moav.  En route, the donkey sees a malach that Bilam doesn’t and starts to veer off course.  After being forced three times to veer off the course and Bilam hitting it, the donkey finally gets upset and responds. He says: why did you hit me these three times? Had I not served you and been good to you my entire life? It was only then that Hashem opened up the eyes of Bilam and he saw the malach standing in front of him.
The loshon that the donkey used was ‘zeh shalosh regalim’-these three times. The donkey was telling Bilam, that if you’re trying to annihilate this nation that has three yomim tovim, you’ll never succeed. The obvious question is what is the correlation?  What does the three moadim have to do with the reason why Bilam won’t succeed? Why wont Bilam be matzliach due to the fact that we celebrate three regalim?
Rav Shaul m’Amsterdam offers a beautiful idea. The pasuk says (24:1) ‘Vayashes el hamidbar panav, Bilam looked towards the midbar to view klal Yisroel from a different angle. The Targum translates this pasuk to mean that Bilam looked back into the midbar to try to remind Hashem of the egel we worshipped. Bilam was trying to conger up in the mind of Hashem the episode of the egel. He was saying: you think klal Yisroel is different? You think they’re special? They aren’t; remember they served the egel in the midbar? Bilam was attempting to use the sin of the egel as his weaponry towards bnei Yisroel, so that his curse would be cast on klal Yisroel. He was trying to make us like we were a nothing.
One of the piyutim we say on pesach, composed by one of the rishonim, says ‘ratzoi eleh-v’eleh hem mo’adoy’-meaning you were appeased with the eleh elokecha yisroel from the eleh hem mo’adoy. How did we get Hashem to forgive us for the chait h’egel? From the fact that we celebrate three regalim.
The Sforno writes that the biggest part of the sin of the egel was that bnei Yisroel was rejoicing over the aveirah. When Moshe Rabeinu saw them rejoicing over it he knew there were major issues going on and that’s why he broke the Luchos when he got down and not when he was still in shomayim.
When klal Yisroel is happy and rejoicing with something it shows what they’re all about. If a person is happy with something and rejoices over it then that too shows what they are all about. If one rejoices with spiritual things then we can assume they are on a high level spiritually.  If they rejoice over mundane things we can see they are a very simple mundane empty person.
The essence of a yom tov is to rejoice and to be happy. We all must understand that one of the main goals while performing a mitzvah is to be happy; it should not feel like it’s a burden.
The Avnei Nezer writes in his hakdamah to the Egeli Tal that what does it mean that someone learns Torah l’shma? How does one know if its l’shma or not? He answers; when someone is happy when he learns that’s purely for the sake of Torah.  Bilam was trying to say ‘look, they rejoiced over the egel’. But the donkey said right back ‘yes, but they fixed it by rejoicing over mitzvos and the three regalim.
May we all be zoche to reach a level of performing mitzvohs and learning Torah l’shama and may we continue to try and elevate ourselves through doing mitzvos b’simcha.

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