This week there was an Aufruf and this is what was said over. We’re going to give only a ברכה, and were going to give a ברכה in spite of the fact that the Mishna in Avos says to be talmidim of אברהם and not talmidim of בלעם. But even if were are not talmidim of בלעם, we should still be able to learn something from him also as Chazal say איזהו חכם הלומד מכל אדם. Now, we see that Bilaam only charged for the קללות and the ברכות he gave for free. In contrary to what is common today that גדולים will give קללות out for free, but for ברכות you have to pay. (The chosson is a descendent of Reb Baruch Gorletzer (a son of the Divrei Chaim of Sanz), and he was known for his wit. He once said why is it that Brachos of Tzadikim sometimes materialize and sometimes don’t, but קללות seem to always materialize. It must be because the קללות they mean with a full heart. I say that this is what it means when Chazal say חייב אינש לבסומי בפוריא עד דלא ידע בין ארור המן לברוך מרדכי that a person should reach a מדרגה that he blesses the צדיקים with the same passion that he curses the רשעים.) So I want to give a ברכה that it should be a home of אהבה ואחוה שלום ורעות. Now אהבה has a lot to do with this week’s Parshah as they say a chasidik rebbe once said that the ראשי תיבות of בלק are ואהבת לרעיך כמוך. And a misnaged in the audience said, “but Rebbe I know that Chassidim aren’t so into dikduk but to such an extent? Don’t you realize that ואהבת לרעיך כמוךis with a ו ל כ and בלק is with a ב ל ק?” So the Rebbe responded, “You see if a person is so מדקדק then you can’t love another Jew”. I add that חקת בלק often come together and that’s because in order to love every Jew, you have to know the secret of חקת, and I’ll explain like this. It’s known that every Jew has a שורש, a root in the torah as they say there are 600,000 אותיות in the תורה and there are 600,000 נשמות and every נשמה is rooted in a אות in the torah. So we could say that some Jews that are rooted in the חוקים, and therefore they are just impossible to understand. But you know it says by the פרה אדומה that זאת חקת התורה and not חקת הפרה and the reason is because even the mitzvos we do think we understand, there are certain aspects that we don’t because every mitzvah really has an element of חק and something that is beyond what we can comprehend. The same is true about people that even the people we do understand, there is always something about them that is beyond comprehension. Therefore once a person can understand this about חקת, then he can come to Balak and say ואהבת לרעיך כמוך because he understands that he doesn’t understand everyone and when he sees someone that he thinks is not loveable, and he tells himself that I just don’t get it but nevertheless I could love him. And this is an important thing to think about in a marriage because Chazal say: אסור לאדם שיקדש את האשה עד שיראנה שמא יראה בה דבר מגונה ותתגנה עליו ורחמנא אמר ואהבת לרעך כמוך So marriage is really a platform for the קיום of ואהבת לרעיך כמוך on a daily basis. Now this Gemara seems to be a little sarcastic how it ends with ואהבת לרעיך כמוך because it’s kind of obvious that if he sees her and she’s ותתגנה עליו then they are going to have a miserable life and with that it would have been enough of a reason. So it must be that we are talking about a person who is a real frumock who doesn’t even want to see who he’s marrying. But with frumkeit you can’t reason, so we can’t tell him that he is going to be miserable, rather we tell him it’s a din of ואהבת לרעיך כמוך. So the יראנה takes care of our concern that תתגנה עליו. However, we have to remember that the יראנה is limited and there is always more than the eye meets. And that’s why by a חופה we actually cover the kallah because the message is what you see is not what you get, and you have to know that there is always more to a person than what you can see. And you have to be willing to accept the unknown based on the known just like based on the mitzvos we understand we accept the מצות that we don’t understand, and we can accept that which we don’t understand about people based on what we do understand about people and that is the key to ואהבת לרעיך כמוך.
I heard a vort from Reb Shlomo Zalman Aurbach at a Sheva Brachos of one of his nephews like this. The Pasuk in כי תצא (כג,ו) says ולא אבה יקוק אלהיך לשמע אל בלעם ויהפך יקוק אלהיך לך את הקללה לברכה כי אהבך יקוק אלהיך. The indication of the Pasuk is that Hashem didn’t want to listen to the קללות of בלעם because if he did, then he would have to fulfil them, as the לשון of לשמע indicates, like by נעשה ונשמע. However, obviously Hashem is not bound by such things and could’ve chosen not to fulfil them even had בלעם said the curses. Rather the idea is that Hashem didn’t want to hear bad things about כלל ישראל just like a father doesn’t want to hear bad things about his children. Now I say the same is true for the opposite. When a person hears something that is נגד ה', even if he says that it doesn’t affect him (which it does, but not going to discuss it now), nonetheless a person shouldn’t want to hear such things about Hashem just like a person wouldn’t want to hear bad about his father. We see from the beginning until the end, everything in the story with בלעם and בלק revolved around כבוד. In the beginning Balak says to Bilam למה לא הלכת אלי האמנם לא אוכל כבדך (כב,לז) and he didn’t consider as a possibility that maybe Bilaam turned down the offer because he felt it was immoral, unethical, and unfair. But the only thing he can think of is that Bilaam feels the כבוד that he is being offered is not enough. And after the whole story, Balak says to Bilam והנה מנעך יקוק מכבוד (כד,יא) that he still doesn’t consider maybe it’s because Hashem didn’t want them to be cursed, rather its only because Hashem doesn’t want Bilam to have כבוד. So you see that it was all about the ego. (From here on, the Rav did not say at the Kiddush but wanted to.) It’s really astounding what ended up happening to a man with such a great gift, a spiritual gift, as Bilaam, and it must be understood how it ended up coming to be. And even more astounding is that Bilaam is able to prophesize till the end of days, until ימות המשיח, but he doesn’t see what’s in front of him. He can’t see the Malach in front of him, but his donkey does. How can that be? Similarly we see by Pharaoh that he was a מנחש and he could see the future and yet with all the Makkos, he can’t see the writing on the wall and what is in front of his eyes. How could this all be? The Mishna in Avos says: אמר להם צאו וראו איזוהי דרך ישרה שידבק בה האדם רבי אליעזר אומר עין טובה רבי יהושע אומר חבר טוב רבי יוסי אומר שכן טוב רבי שמעון אומר הרואה את הנולד רבי אלעזר אומר לב טוב אמר להם רואה אני את דברי אלעזר בן ערך שבכלל דבריו דבריכם (ב,ט) The basic question is on the opinion of רבי שמעון. What does it mean הרואה את הנולד? How does someone become a seer of the future and how is that a דרך ישרה שידבק בה האדם? Also that which he says that a לב טוב is most befitting because it includes all the other things needs an explanation because how in the world does a לב טוב include a רואה את הנולד? The answer seems to be that a רואה את הנולד means that I can see how A leads to B and B leads to C, and how it will eventually evolve. Why is it that we don’t see? It is because we don’t see that which is front of us. If we would see what is in front of us, objectively the present as is, then we would be able to see how A is going to lead to B and how B will lead to C. The reason we don’t see the end results of what is in front of our eyes is because we don’t see that which is in front of our eyes. The reason is because our vision is biased and tainted by our own נגיעות and therefore we don’t see the objective reality as is. We see what we want to see and therefore we don’t see the present as is and as a result, we don’t see the future. If someone has a לב טוב, which means he has the ability to step out of the self-interest and see beyond what he wants, than he can be a רואה את הנולד because he can see the present objectively, and if one can see the present objectively, than he can see the future. On the other hand, if someone is wrapped up in his own ego, the opposite of the לב טוב, then he can’t see anything that interferes with his wishes. So Bilam and Pharaoh could see till the end of time, but whatever was in conflict with their self-interest, they couldn’t see, and not only could they not see the future, but they couldn’t see the present. The Gemara in Sanhedrin on דף קה. Says בלעם is בלא עם, that he has no nation. The simple understanding is that he was like a prophet for hire and he didn’t have any sense of loyalty, and he didn’t belong to any people, and was just a mercenary. But a person who has an עם is a person who doesn’t live for himself, rather he is able to see beyond his selfish self. But if a person is בלא עם, then he is just out for himself. Somebody like that, anything that interferes with his self-interest doesn’t exist and therefore he can have the biggest מפלה like בלעם.