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Friday, July 11

The Weekly Shtikle - Balak

    When the elders of Moav and Midyan came to bring Bil'am, the pasuk (22:7) says they brought "kesamim" with them. Rashi writes that the Midyanites went in with a plan as to how to determine Bil'am's legitimacy. They said, "If he comes with us this time, he is legitimate. If he tells us to delay, there is no purpose." Once he said "sleep here tonight," they saw that he had no hope and they left him. The GR"A points out the inconsistency in the terminology used by Rashi. It is observed in the Hebrew as Rashi changes terms from "Yeish bo MAMASH" to "Ein bo TO'ELES" to "Ein bo TIKVAH."
    The GR"A explains that Bil'am professed to be on a higher level of prophecy than Moshe. Although Moshe was above all other prophets in that he may speak to HaShem whenever he wished, Bil'am claimed to be even greater, in that he was "yodea da'as Elyon," that he didn't even have to speak to HaShem but that he already knew what He was "thinking," as it were. Therefore, the Midyanites reasoned, if he goes with us right away, it is indeed true that he is better than Moshe - yeish bo mamash - there is legitimacy to his claim. If he tells us to wait then that means he has to confer with HaShem. Although he might still be a great prophet, he is no better than Moshe so why should they side with Bil'am any more than Moshe. Therefore, there is no "purpose" (to'eles). When they saw that he required them to stay the night, they realized that he could only communicate with HaShem at night, which put him below Moshe on the prophecy scale. Then they saw that he had no hope (tikvah) and they were wasting their time so they left him.


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