If someone really wanted to truly know the essence who Am Yisrael is, they would have to learn this parsha of Balak. Billam was the Merkavah of Tumah, master of magic, witchcraft, sorcery, and a prophet, utilized all his curse tools and “know how” in an evil attempt to curse Yisrael. As the Navi Yeshaya 54,17 says כל כלי יוצר עליך לא יצלח any man made too against you will not succeed. Not that they do not possess the power or ability to harm for they indeed do. Just the opposite we see that if it would not have been for Hashem’s miraculous protection over Klal Yisrael there would have befallen a national tragedy.

After failing to achieve his mission with all the above strategies, Billam realized that the downfall of Am Yisrael can only come about through their own bechirah and actions with the seduction to perform immoral behavior. Rav Shimshon Pincus deduces from this that no man or power can harm another Yid. It is the Yid who brings upon himself misfortune. The entire parsha of Balak is proof to these concepts.

In the realm of bechirah we also see a deep insight from the parsha says Rav Pincus. Yisrael would not have sinned would it not have been instigated from the nations with their enticement for immoral deeds. We find throughout Tanach that all idolatry worship came about because we failed to eradicate their avodah zarah as we conquered Eretz Yisrael. The chait of the Aigel was because of the Airuv Rav. All the tragedies and destruction that befell the Jewish Nation evolved because we said let us be and emulate the goyim. Once again the goyim were the source of our disasters which were administered to us by our own actions of letting ourselves to be influenced from them.

There is a story told of a Chinese and a Yid who were arguing back and forth whose nation was older. The Chinese man claimed that his nation can be traced back to three thousand years. The Yid responded and said that is nothing. The Jewish Nation can be traced back to four thousand years. The Chinese man answered with disbelief “Impossible”. What food did the Jewish People eat during those thousand years?”

I know what you are thinking, that pizza is Italian so why do we copy the Italians and eat pizza? Let me put it to you this way. If a Chassideshe Yid with payos hanging down by his ears, makes for you the pizza you have no problem with it even though he is not Italian. However, if you are at a Chasunah and that same Chossid was making the sushi behind the table you might have second thoughts whether you really want to eat it. Why? With pizza the Italian long ago has been totally removed from your slice. With Sushi, Japan is still invested in every bite. It doesn’t matter at all if that Chossid is dressed in sushi garb from head to toe. He is still missing those slanted eyes and that makes the eating of this sushi an incomplete Japanese cuisine experience. “It’s just not the real deal!” (This story is not fiction but rather a true scenario and the remark I personally overheard at a chasunah in front of the Sushi Station.) However, I am not against Sushi as long as the ambiance surrounding it does not weigh into making the difference in the decision to eat it or not. If it does then it’s not only about the sushi but also about the foreign cultural experience that you seek.

Of course no one wants to hear this for it makes one uncomfortable of his lifestyle. But if we constantly shut our ears, Hashem will chas vashalem force them open and make us hear it loud and clear. We visit the death camps on tours. At the end of the visit we come to a mountain of human ashes. We feel broken and hold hands singing Ani Mamim swaying back and forth with a tear or two rolling down our cheeks. Ani Maamim. What exactly are we believing in at that particular moment? We feel heart broken because of what happened to so many helpless Yidden our brethren, men, woman, children, and babies whose lives were suddenly snuffed out in a horrific manner. If only we could add to the “what”, the why this all happened, maybe we could change the course of future doom and tragedies for the Jewish people. As we somberly walk away from the gas chambers and crematoriums we must bring ourselves to believe that absolutely no evil can harm a Yid unless he made bad choices by allowing himself to be polluted by goyish influence.

This entire vort is paraphrased in the passuk (Yeshaya 49,17) מהרסיך ומחריביך ממך יצאו. The Navi exclaims that the destroyers of Klal Yisrael come from within us. It is our bechirah that removes the miraculous shemirah that Hashem has over His people.  We don’t have to look further than Parshas Balak which gives us a lengthy testimony that this is the truth the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

הן עם לבדד ישכון ובגויים לא יתחשב

If we remain a nation by ourselves then we are totally removed from the goyim’sdaily thoughts.

Gut Shabbos
Rav Brazil