A Top Down Model of Hidden Love
Several centuries ago, the Pope
decreed that all the Jews had to convert or leave Italy . There
was a huge outcry from the Jewish community, so the Pope offered
a deal. He would have a religious debate with the leader of the
Jewish community. If the Jews won, they could stay in Italy ; if
the Pope won, they would have to leave. The Jewish people met
and picked an aged but wise Rabbi, Moishe, to represent them in
the debate. However, as Moishe spoke no Italian and the Pope
spoke no Hebrew, they all agreed that it would be a "silent"
On the chosen day, the Pope and
Rabbi Moishe sat opposite each other for a full minute before
the Pope raised his hand and showed three fingers. Rabbi Moishe
looked back and raised one finger.
Next the Pope waved his finger
around his head. Rabbi Moishe pointed to the ground where he
The Pope then brought out a
communion wafer and a chalice of wine. Rabbi Moishe pulled out
With that, the Pope stood up and
declared that he was beaten, that Rabbi Moishe was too clever
and that the Jews could stay.
Later, the Cardinals met with the
Pope, asking what had happened. The Pope said, "First I held up
three fingers to represent the Trinity. He responded by holding
up one finger to remind me that there is still only one God
common to both our beliefs. Then, I waved my finger to show him
that God was all around us. He responded by pointing to the
ground to show that God was also right here with us. I pulled
out the wine and wafer to show that God absolves us of all our
sins. He pulled out an apple to remind me of the original sin.
He had me beaten and I could not continue."
Meanwhile the Jewish community were gathered around Rabbi Moishe
. "What happened?" they asked. " Well," said Moishe, "First he
said to me that we had three days to get out of Italy, so I
wagged my finger and said to him: "No Way"!
Then he tells me that the whole
country would be cleared of Jews and I said to him, Mr. Pope,
we're staying right here."
"And then what," asked a woman.
"Who knows?" said Moishe, "he took out his lunch, so I took out
In our efforts to deeply understand, it behooves us to probe
behind the scenes.
Now ponder this
puzzling fact: Moshe's name does not appear in the first 95
pesukim of our parsha - marking the longest stretch in the books
of non-Moshe until we hit Sefer Devarim
simple and poignant comment of Rav Leibele Eiger
confirms a suspicion that Rabbi Avraham Willig suggested many
years ago. First, let us look at the opening and closing lines
of the Bilaam story:
Balak the son of Zippor saw all
that Israel had done to the Emorites.
Moab became terrified of the people, for they were numerous, and
.... became disgusted of the children of Israel.
He[Balak] sent messengers to Balaam
the son of Beor, to Pethor, which is by the river of the land of
his people, to call for him, saying, "A people has come out of
Egypt, and behold, they have covered the "eye" of the land, and
they are stationed opposite me.
A subtle psychological battle of wills
between Bilaam and Balak begins. Chazal are full of poignant
insight into the tragedy of Bilaam - of the squandered greatness
of a man that saw right and desperately wanted to die right,
and yet was utterly consumed by the noxious mixture of greed,
lust and power. Ironically, Chazal speak of Bilaam
as having many talmidim (students) [Would one want his
name on one's shidduch resume as a reference?] and warn us that
one's role in life is ultimately a choice between Rebbe Avraham
or l'havdil Rebbe Bilaam.
Playing hard to get, but ultimately
wanting to please Balak, Bilaam (42 altars and a lot of words
later) ends up as a massive failure. They part ways:
Bilaam arose, went, and returned
home, and Balak went on his way.
There is so much here, but note what
is not! One
gets the sense of a private [albeit an extended one]
conversation between two antagonists united in their hatred of
all things Jewish. What is missing is the Jewish response. Where
is Moshe and where are Klal Yisrael ? We seek to understand
where is the Jewish voice in all this.
beautiful comments of Reb Leibele [in Imrei Emes on Balak] based
on the opening words of the Haftora [Micha, 6:5]
My people, remember now what Balak
king of Moab planned, and what Balaam the son of Beor answered
him. From Shittim to Gilgal, may you recognize the righteous צדקות
ה']] deeds of the Lord.
שבת הוא מלזעוק ור פ ו א ה קר ו ב ה לב א . הו אמר ו מ ז בס
י ד ר א זו שהיא הס י ר ר א הש ב י ע י ת
וכ ב ר מלתינו אמ ו ר ה בזה שהסידרא השביעית הואבבחי׳ שבח ונ ם
היא חביבה . וכידוע מא מ ח ז ׳ י ל ( ב מ ד ״ ראמ ו ר פכ ״ מ
ע״ש) כל השביעי חביבין . ובוודאיבהת ו ה ״ ק גו פ א פשיטא
שהשביעית הו א חב י ב כי כלהישועה המ ו ב א בס ׳ זו במ ע ש ה
בלק וב ל ע ם היהמשונה מכ ל הישועות שהי׳ מק ו ד ם , כי בכ
ולם יד מ ו
את צרת נפשם להחחנן ולזעוק אל הש״י
מי ד צריהם כמש״נ ויאנחו בנ״י ויזעקו
וה יה ישועתם ע״ י את ד ל ״ ת . ובישועה הזו לא יד ע ו
ר ממ ה שהאויב המציק חשב עליהם לאבדם חל י ל ה
ורק הש״י ברוב רחמיו וצדקותיו הפליא חס ד ו ע מ ה ם
אף בלתי יד י ע ת ם . וזהו מה שנ׳ בהפטרתעמי
זכר נא מה יעץ בלק וכו׳ למען דע ת צדקות ה׳
the seventh in Bamidbar represents the essence of Shabbos and is
most dear ... as Chazal teach that all sevens are dear .... And
certainly in the Torah itself the seventh is the most dear ...
for the salvation in this story of Balak and Bilaam was
different than all previous salvations - for all the others,
Yisrael conceived of their troubles and thus cried out to
Hashem to save them from their enemies as it says and Bnei
Yisrael sighed and cried out to God ... but in this salvation
they did not know at all that enemy had plotted to destroy them
God forbid ... it is just that Hashem with his great mercy and
righteousness showered his kindness without their knowledge-
and this is what is written in the Haftorah in order to know
Why is Moshe
absent and where is the Jewish voice? The simple answer is that
Bnei Yisrael had no clue of the enemy's plot [nor that that
Hashem had foiled it] - until Hashem recorded it in the Torah
itself, not merely for posterity, but for reflection:
being a one time phenomena, this is Hashem's modus operandi -
for in the Master of the Universe's hiddenness, one finds the
highest tzedaka - the tzedaka of hidden love.
Thrice daily, we
thank Hashem for the daily miracles. Note the double
shebechol yom imanu, v'al
v'tovosecha shebechol eis
for Your miracles which are with us daily, and for Your wonders
and beneficences - which are at all times
distinguishes the neis [miracle] from the peleh [wonder]? It's a
juicy question - but simply note that neis is a banner
which secondarily means a miracle. We pledge allegiance to the
Divine flag when God so obviously intervenes. But then there is
the peleh - which is a hidden, mysterious reality that
also connotes wonder.
The Master of
the Universe is the ultimate Hidden Force. Every once in a
while He gives us a window to see the complexity - reminding us
that there is so much tzedakah
lurking behind the scenes that we can not possibly fathom the
extent of it all - for at any given moment the Bilaams, Bin
Ladens and Ahmadinejads of the world are plotting our downfall.
Is this simply
Jewphobic paranoia? 2000 years of Jewish history does not lie.
Yet, we are here to tell the story - for Hashem [who is ne'elam
in the olam] is constantly watching out for us. To the extent
that we recognize Hashem's hidden love for us, we will feel
loved, live empowered and be able to pass it forward to the next
generation and to all in our world.
Good Shabbos from Eretz Yisrael,
 Tetzaveh, which has 101 pesukim is the longest
omission of Moshe's name and much has been written on
this. Cf. Baal Haturim on Shemos 27, 20
 Which from chapter 5 until 27 does not have
Moshe's as he is the speaker himself.
Reb Yehuda Leib Eiger (1816-1888) was the son of Rav
Shlomo Eiger and grandson of Rav Akiva Eiger. Much to
the dismay of his family he joined a circle of brilliant
scholars who surrounded the Chiddushei HaRim of Ger. He
became a disciple of the Kotzker but left him together
with Izhbitzer. Reb Leibe's seforim "Toras Emes" and "Imrei
Emes" were published posthumously.
 Cf. 23, 10 [let me die the death of the straight
ones - a reference to Avraham] or
 Avos, 5:19:
Whoever possesses the following three traits is of the
disciples of our father Abraham; and whoever possesses
the opposite three traits is of the disciples of the
wicked Balaam. The disciples of our father Abraham have
a good eye, a meek spirit and a humble soul. The
disciples of the wicked Balaam have an evil eye, a
haughty spirit and a gross soul. What is the difference
between the disciples of our father Abraham and the
disciples of the wicked Balaam? The disciples of our
father Abraham benefit in this world and inherit the World
To Come, ....The disciples of the wicked Balaam
inherit purgatory and descent into the pit of
destruction, as is stated, ...
 In this beautiful
piece, he contrasts Shabbos to the moadim in this same
way - shabbos requires no awakening from below [is'arusa
diletata] as opposed to Yom Tov:
שזהו עי ק ר בחי׳ צדקה
הנותן להמקבל בלתי ידי ע ה המ ק ב ל כי ד ו ע מחכז״ל*
. וזהו עי ק ר בחי׳ שבת . כי בזה משונההשבח מכל המועדים
. כי המ ו ע ד י ם ישראל מקדשי לה ו
והוא ענין את ד ל ״ ת . לא ק הש״ק כי הוא קביע אוק י י מ
א . היינו שקדושתו אינו תל ו י . בפ ע ו ל ה הא ד ם כלל
. רק הי כ ף אח ר שי ה ״ מ . איתער לעילא לברךולקדש
את יום הש ב י ע י
Cf. Rashi, Devarim,
לא מכוסה היא ממך.
לא נפלאת היא ממך
Rosenblum's cogent analysis of a behind the scenes
Nixon-Kissinger dialogue yields this gem:
Israeli prime minister
Golda Meir credited Nixon with having saved Israel in
1973 by ordering a massive airlift of arms to Israel,
while war still raged. Nixon not only responded to
Israel's pleas for new arms, at a time the Soviets were
busy rearming Egypt and Syria, he did so over the
foot-dragging of the Pentagon and State Department. He
specifically ordered Kissinger and Secretary of Defense
James Schlesinger to expedite the transfer of supplies
At one point, he asked for an assessment of Israel's
military needs. When Schlesinger provided him with it,
he told his shocked Secretary of Defense to double it.
particular, Nixon overruled Kissinger on the airlift.
The latter hoped that a more vulnerable
Israel would be more compliant with his grand diplomatic
designs to both bring peace to the Middle East and
freeze the Soviets out of the action.
[9b] A similar notion is
also expressed on the pasuk on Tehillim Halelu es Hashem
kol Goyim - Shabechuhu kol Haumim - the nations of the
world are uniquely capable of praising Hashem - as they
knew what they were plotting
[9c] Also cf Rashi on
Chukas - V'eshed Hanechalim - for perhaps another
example of this notion