Shabbat Parashat Balak | 5769
Parashat Hashavuah:The Power of the Three Legs (=Holidays)Harav Moshe Ehrenreich
Hashem opened the mouth of the donkey, who asked Bilam: “What did I do to you that you hit me three times (regalim- literally, legs)?” (Bamidbar 22:28). Rashi says that the regalim hint to the travesty of harming Bnei Yisrael, who celebrate three holidays a year. Why is this out of all mitzvot connected to Bilam’s desire to destroy them? The Siftei Chachamim says that since Hashem wants to “see us” when we visit Yerushalayim on the holidays, it is wrong for Bilam to want us to be destroyed.
We will suggest an additional approach. Balak twice (ibid.: 5, 11) explained to Bilam that he was disturbed that Bnei Yisrael have “covered the eye of the land.” The simple explanation is that they were a large nation. However, the S’fat Emet explains that he was afraid that Bnei Yisrael would usurp the concept of connection to the land and physicality in general. This was a departure from the existence in the desert, where Bnei Yisrael dealt only with spirituality, and all physical things (food, water, security, etc.) were a present from heaven. When they would enter the
The mitzva of going up to Yerushalayim on holidays stresses this element of sanctifying the physical. What happens in Yerushalayim? “For there tribes go up, the tribes of Hashem (using the two letter name), a witness to
On the holidays, the main sacrifices are shelamim, which combine benefit for the one who brings it, the altar, and the kohanim. A non-Jew may bring a sacrifice but only an olah, which is entirely consumed by the altar. Bilam and Balak wanted to prevent us from combining the two worlds in the manner of the holidays and their shelamim sacrifices, but Hashem wanted us to connect them.
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This edition of Hemdat Yamim is dedicated to the memory of
R ' Meir ben Yechezkel Shraga Brachfeld
Hemdat Yamim is endowed by
and Louis and Lillian Klein, z”l.