Thursday, July 03, 2014

lo hibit aven b'Ya'akov - where is the justice in ignoring wrongdoing?

1) Why is it the mitzvah of celebrating shalosh regalim in particular which stands as the counter to Bilam?  The Shem m’Shmuel quotes from his father the Sochotchover that Bilam wanted the benefit of the mystical/spiritual power that comes from prophecy without having to sacrifice his olam ha’zeh to get there.  When Klal Yisrael fulfilled the mitzvah of aliya la’regel they left their homes, they left their fields, they left everything behind and journeyed to the Mikdash.  Our journey was accompanied by the self-sacrifice that a Bilam could never muster (see Maharal for a different answer).

 2) The Midrash interprets the words, “v’agarshenu min ha’aretz” to mean not that Balak would kick us out of his land but rather that he wanted to prevent us from entering Eretz Yisrael.  What motivated the Midrash to read the pasuk that way instead of k’peshuto?  It could be that the Midrash is built on the diyuk of the hey ha’yediya in “ha’aretz,” THE land, or on the fact that the land is mentioned at all – the pasuk could just have said “va’agarshenu.”  I would like to suggest that what bothered the Midrash is the simple fact that you can’t get kicked out of a place you are not in yet.  So how does re-reading the pasuk as referring to Eretz Yisrael help – we weren’t there yet either?  I think the answer is that the word “agarshenu” here is not physical displacement, but rather like the word “geirushin.”  Divorce is more than a physical separation between parties – it is the severing of an emotional and perhaps even an existential bond.  Klal Yisrael and Eretz Yisrael are, metaphorically speaking, wed together.  Balak wanted to sever that connection.

Why?  The Shem m’Shmuel has a number of pieces on the parsha where he attempts to answer that question.  Whatever the answer is, you see clearly that Klal Yisrael living in Eretz Yisrael is not just a “threat” to the neighboring regimes and despots, but is a “threat” to France, to America, to New Zealand, etc.  A world where there is at least one nation that stands out as a bastion of morality and ethics is a challenge to the hypocrisy and the evils perpetrated by all others.  Barak, I mean Balak, cannot sleep comfortably under those conditions.

3) Bilam says, “Lo hibit aven b’Ya’akov…” that Hashem does not look at our wrongdoing.  The Sefas Emes asks: Hashem is medakdek on tzadikim even more than on all others.  No sin goes unpunished or ignored.  Kol ha’omer Hashem vatran… etc. 

Rashi tells us at the beginning of Parshas Korach that Ya’akov’s name is not mentioned because he did not want to be associated with Korach’s sin.  Everyone has within him/her the spiritual genes of all of our Avos.  When a person sins like Korach, that little spark of Ya’akov in his genes doesn’t want to be shepped in the mud, so it pulls back and walks away.  It remains unsullied, a point of departure should the person wish to restart and rebuild through teshuvah. 

Of course Hashem doesn’t ignore sin.  But “Lo hibit aven b’Ya’akov,” those sins are all on the surface – they don’t penetrate to the core of who we are, to the genes of Ya’akov and the Avos that are at the root of our personalities. 

1 comment:

  1. Velly funny. As far as I can tell, his flaws have neverothing to do with amorality.