Erev Shabbos Kodesh Shabbos Balak Inspiration 5774

The most amazing aspect regarding Balaam was that he was יֹדֵעַ דַּעַת עֶלְיוֹן, he knew the knowledge of the Supreme One. The Gemara (Sanhedrin 105b) understands this to mean that Balaam knew the time when HaShem was prone to anger.

It is noteworthy that this expression of יֹדֵעַ דַּעַת עֶלְיוֹן, where the two expressions of דעת are mentioned consecutively, appears in one other instance in the Torah. It is said (Bereishis 15:13) וַיֹּאמֶר לְאַבְרָם יָדֹעַ תֵּדַע כִּי גֵר יִהְיֶה זַרְעֲךָ בְּאֶרֶץ לֹא לָהֶם וַעֲבָדוּם וְעִנּוּ אֹתָם אַרְבַּע מֵאוֹת שָׁנָה, and He said to Avram, “Know with certainty that your offspring shall be aliens in a land not their own – and they will serve them, and they will oppress them – four hundred years.” HaShem was informing Avraham that his descendants would be enslaved and persecuted by the Egyptians for four hundred years. Yet, Avraham received this fateful news with equanimity and he did not complain to HaShem. Contrast Balaam, who as soon as he got wind of HaShem’s unwillingness to have him curse the Jewish People, was even more determined to flout HaShem’s will. Indeed, the Mishna in Avos (5:19) lists three distinctions between the students of Avraham and the students of Balaam. One of those distinctions is humility. Avraham, in his great humility, accepted the “knowledge” of his descendants’  future slavery with love. Balaam, in his arrogance, continued searching for  a time when he would “know” the moment of HaShem’s anger so that he, Balaam, could triumph. There is knowledge and there is knowledge, and it is up to our minds to figure out what HaShem’s will is for us.

Have an intellectually stimulating and a highly emotionally charged Shabbos!

Rabbi Adler

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