Divrei Yoel Parashas Balak

1. The Gemara in Meseches Berachos states that the evil prophet Bilam knew the "knowledge of above." The obvious question, which is in fact asked by the Gemara, is as follows: How is it reasonable to say that Bilam knew the knowledge of above when he did not even understand the mind of his donkey and could not win an argument with his miraculous talking donkey? The Satmar Rebbe in Divrei Yoel (Parashas Balak, p. 107) helps us reconcile this seeming contradiction, by sheding some light on the power of sorcery.

The Rebbe explains that the evil sorcerers were able to harness the powers of tumah and make the heavenly forces submissive to them. With this power, the evil practitioners of kishuf could have the laws of nature changed for them, helping them to accomplish their goal. This was the path taken by the evil Bilam. The Gemara (ibid) teaches that there is a moment every day during which the midas hadin reigns, and the sinners are more likely to be punished. This moment is called the "rega shel za'am." Bilam wished to take advantage of this moment of anger to curse the Jewish People. If Bilam would be able to curse at that moment, the curse would have taken effect.

The above explanation by the Rebbe helps us to understand how Bilaam could have had no understanding of his donkey's mind, but still have been able to work with the spiritual forces in heaven. We can understand from the above that knowledge of above does not have anything to do with spiritual stature. A person could be an terrible rasha, but through the forces of impurity that he has harnessed, he can bring the spiritual forces in heaven to be submissive to him, to be used in the accomplishment of his agenda.

Perhaps this understandng can shed light the famous contention of the Rebbe, that miracles performed for a particular organization are not a sign of divine approval for these people or their actions. Miracles can also come from the side of the Satan. If a heretical organization sees miraculous success, it is most probable that this supernatural success comes from the side of impurity. It most definitely does not lend legitimacy to the organization. Quite the contrary; if the Satan is performing miracles for them, it means that he sees this organization as a powerful tool of his to lead people astray from Hashem and His holy Torah. This is the greatest warning sign possible to all the ehrliche, Torah-true Yidden to steer clear.

2. "The truth is that [although Bilam blessed the Jewish People] his intention was to ruin the blessings, turning them into curses, through his evil intentions. Bilam wished to turn all the blessings into curses through his evil intentions, and in fact he had the power to do this, since the Jewish People were not in attendance at the Beis Hakenesses and Beis Hamidrash. Hashem intervened and saved the Jewish People, turning the curses into blessings. In truth, the none of the "brachos" ascended and they were not implemented, in order to make known that it was not through the "brachos" of Bilam that the Jewish People were blessed. Bilam was the very essence and root of impurity and even if he wanted good for the Jewish People, Hashem would have made sure that his blessings did not take effect. This is because the salvation of the Jewish People will come only through the tzaddikim and those who observe the Torah and mitzvos, not through the impure reshaim, for the truth is that even when it appears as though the reshaim are doing good, it is all bad and curses. We must know that when the Jewish People read this parasha and have the proper intentions, everything is turned into a blessing." (Divrei Yoel Parashas Balak, p. 130)

3. The Satmar Rebbe, ZY"A, famously teaches in Divrei Yoel (Parashas Shemos, p.90) that when Moshiach comes, all proper, ehrliche Jewish homes will be moved to Eretz Yisroel, since their original source is from the Holy Land. Our goal in life is to build such homes, filled with Torah, Mitzvos and chinuch. Precisely because ehrliche Yiddishe homes are so essential to our nation, the forces of impurity, throughout the generations, have focused great effort to destroy this concept. Bilam attempted to accomplish this, by advising Balak to lead the Jewish People into immorality. More recently the Zionists have, and still are, following in the footsteps of Bilam, attempting to destroy all Jewish homes, R"L. The Zionists have set about to accomplish this in a variety of ways:
1. By introducing immorality into our land of Eretz Yisroel, the Zionists have demeaned and destroyed family life, breaking apart our pride and joy, and delaying the coming of Moshiach.
2. By encouraging an atmosphere of liberality and imitation of the other nations, many secular people in Eretz Yisroel feel no need to build families, failing to understand the importance of ehrliche yiddishe homes. The Zionists have, unfortunately, brought about a situation where the "family structure" of Jewish People in Eretz Yisroel closely resembles that of the other nations.
3. By creating a forbidden army and drafting boys and girls into it, the Zionists have completely denied the Torah's understanding of the way a young person is supposed to grow and develop. They have entirely contorted and misrepresented to the entire world what the goals and aspirations of Jewish children are supposed to be. The simple truth is that the most lofty goal Yiddishe children can have is to aspire to follow in the ways of the previous generations
4. By removing the concept of Torah from the minds and hearts of so many thousands of our brothers and sisters, the Zionists have destroyed the very foundation of Jewish homes.
5. By attempting to introduce advanced secular studies into yeshivos and seminaries, the Zionists aim to destroy and poison the souls of the Jewish People, and send us, R"L, into a spiral of destruction.

When we contemplate the above points, we understand that Zionism is truly the greatest threat to our existence as a nation. The worst evil, emanating from the deepest depth of impurity, comes from the Zionists. The entire goal of the Zionists is, chas v'shalom, to uproot Torah and yiras shamayim from the Jewish Nation, leaving us indistinguishable from the gentiles, R"L. The Zionists are our greatest enemy. Throughout the many long years of exile, a great number of enemies have risen up against us, in an attempt to destroy us. However, the Zionists are the greatest enemy we have ever faced. While this many sound strange, a simple look at the facts of history explains everything.

While non-Jewish enemies have usually wanted to destroy us physically, the Zionists want to destroy us spiritually, a much more severe and permanent danger. Even amongst the gentile enemies who wanted the Jewish People to convert, they always brandished violence as the alternative to denial of the Torah, causing us, as a nation, to dig in our heels and cling even more fiercely to the Torah. On the other hand, the "religious" Zionists often show a friendly face, without obvious hatred, causing ehrliche Yidden to be faced with an even greater test: to see through the friendly mask and resist the lures and false promises of the evil heretics.

4. The Satmar Rebbe, ZY"A, in Divrei Yoel (Parashas Balak, p. 108) explains that Hashem runs the world primarily through His divine attribute of kindness. This is necessary since every person at some time will, unfortunately stumble into sin. Shlomo Hamelech famously tells us that there is not any tzaddik who only does good, and has no trace of sin whatsoever. While most of the time, Hashem does, in fact, reign over the world with mercy, there is one moment every day when He deals with the world through exercising the aspect of din, harsh judgment. There is a split second every day when Hashem is in anger, so to speak. The manifestation of this "anger" is the reign of the midas hadin. The Rebbe explains that the forces of kishuf are able to make use of the power of this moment of din, to bring destruction upon those they desire to harm. This is what Bilam hoped to accomplish.
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Every spiritual force in creation can be harnessed either by tzaddikin in the service of Hashem, or chas v'shalom, by evil people for diabolical purposes. The meforshim on Ein Yaakov explain this, teaching that when the attribute of chesed is used properly, one comes to great levels of ahavas Hashem and ahavas Yisroel, whereas when used improperly, this middah leads to terrible sins of immorality. So too regarding the middah of gevurah: when utilized properly, in the service of Hashem, one can attain great levels of fear of Hashem, but when used improperly, one can sink into anger, an aveirah compared by Chazal to idol worship.

While it is usually proper to take a stand against the heretics and fight them with all our strength, we must remember that, even more importantly, we must turn to Hashem, and understand that it is He Who is ultimately the One who will exact vengeance from the heretics. Perhaps the following explanation could be suggested to gain a further understanding of the dynamics of the fight against heresy.

Two weeks ago we read about Korach's rebellion against Moshe and Aharon. The Torah tells us: "Vayikach Korach ben Yitzhar ben Kehas ben Levi, v'Dassan v'Aviram bnei Eliyav v'On ben Peles bnei Reuvein...." (Bamidbar 16:1) Literally the word "vayikach" means to take. We can understand from this the following: Korach, as well as Dasan and Aviram, took for themselves the credit for their spiritual attributes. Korach, descending from Levi represented the middah of din, while Dassan and Aviram, descending from Reuvein, represented overcoming the powers of Eisav, as we find that Reuvein is favorably contrasted to Eisav (Meseches Berachos 7b). Since Korach, Dassan, and Aviram, credited themselves with these special attributes, without enough credit to Hashem, the special aspects of their souls became spoiled and misused.

Moshe's response to this contorted implementation of the attribute of gevurah was to turn to Hashem in prayer. We find a similar incident related in the Gemara in Berachos (7a). A heretic used to bother R' Yehoshua be Levi regarding the interpretations of pessukim. Finally, R' Yehoshua decided to deal with this problem in the following way. He took a rooster (representing gevurah, as the Hebrew word for a rooster is "gever" similar in root to the word "gevurah"), put it near his bed, and waited for the daily moment of divine anger to arrive. R' Yehoshua ben Levi would know when this moment arrived for, as the Gemara tells us, when this time comes, the crown of the rooster's heads turns white and the rooster stands on one foot. However, when this moment arrived, R' Yehosua ben Levi drifted off to sleep, and was therefore unable to curse. Regarding this incident the Gemara comments by quoting the passuk: "Gam anosh la'tzaddik lo tov, it is not good for the righteous to punish," rather, punishment of the wicked should be left in Hashem's hands.

This path was the one taken by Moshe Rabbeinu. He turned to Hashem for assistance in fighting the heretics, and placed all of his trust in Hashem. This is indicated by the Gemara. The Gemara here quoted the verse, "Gam anosh la'tzaddik lo tov." What is the true definition of "tov, good"? Chazal tell us: Torah is called "tov." (Pirkei Avos 6:3) Moshe is also called "tov" in reference to the light that shone from him when he was born (see Shemos 2:3). Chazal explain that as soon as Moshe was born, the house became filled with light, a light which became progressively brighter until Moshe's mother was no longer able to hide him. Moshe was born on the 7th of Adar and the Torah tells us that it was three months later that Moshe could not be hidden any longer. Thus, we see that the date when the light from Moshe became so intense that it could no longer be contained was the 7th of Sivan -- Shavuos. The light that shone from Moshe was the light of the Torah that he was destined to give many years later on the 7th of Sivan.

The Baal Shem Tov Hakadosh says that since the sin of Adam Harishon, the ohr haganuz, the special divine light created on the first day of creation, has been hidden from most people. This light is not, however completely gone. The Baal Shem Tov explains that this special light was hidden in the Torah, and the great tzaddikim enjoy it through their learning. Perhaps this is the light that shone from Moshe Rabbeinu. With this understanding, we can explain the above gemara. The Gemara tells us that for the tzaddikim to go out and punish the wicked is not proper. We learn the proper path from Moshe Rabbeinu, who, although he fought the wicked, left their ultimate destruction up to Hashem alone. To attempt to destroy the wicked is not "tov," meaning this is not the way taught to us by Moshe Rabbeinu. Moshe stood up against the heretics, but left the main punishment and rectification up to Hashem. By turning to Hashem, Moshe acted in complete contradiction to Korach's error of taking credit for his spiritual heights. Perhaps it was through this great act of humility and submission to Hashem on the part of Moshe that he was able to rectify the damage done by Korach to the spiritual realms of gevurah.

As we fight the modern-day heretics, we must remember that the ultimate punishment of the evil people is up to Hashem. If we keep this in the forefront of our minds, we will not turn down a misguided path. We will remain faithful to Hashem and His Torah.

5. "We see clearly today in our generation the actualization of the evil Bilam's prophecy regarding what will be with the Jewish nation at the end of days. The evil ones amongst the Jewish People breach the greatest fences and engage in lewdness and immorality, R"L -- even more than the other nations -- and troubles plague the entire world, until Hashem will have mercy on us very soon and save us from them and their plots." (Divrei Yoel Parashas Balak, p. 122)

6. The Talmud Yerushalmi (Meseches Chagigah 2:1) teaches: "One who prides himself in the shame of his fellow has no share in Olam Haba. The Satmar Rebbe, ZY"A, in Kuntres Chiddushei Torah 5716 (Parashas Balak) explains this teaching of Chazal with a novel interpretation. The Rebbe says that a woman who attempts to justify immodest behavior by pointing to her friends who act in the same, shameful way will not win back the Olam Haba she lost due to her immodesty.

We see this idea play itself out clearly today regarding the Zionists as well. The Zionists constantly defend their wrongdoings by pointing to supposed similar actions on the part of ehrliche Yidden. They say that ehrliche Yidden are also not keeping the laws of modesty perfectly, or that they may claim to sit in kollel but are actually wasting time. This argument of the heretics however, falls apart completely, when we understand that just because someone else does a certain negative action, that in no way at all justifies committing the act. This is in addition to the fact that most of the time, the Zionist's claims that the ehrliche Yidden are making the same mistakes as themselves are completely untrue, fabricated by the heretics to baselessly slander Torah-true Yidden.

One of the many pains and troubles in Klal Yisroel today is the fact that there are Chareidim involved in Israeli politics. We learn clearly in Pirkei Avos "V'al Tischabr la'rasha," it is forbidden to join together with the wicked, even if our intentions are good and pure. We find that when Chareidim involve themselves in Israeli politics, they soon find themselves swept along in this society of slander and evil. We see constantly how Charedi politicians slander other frum Yidden, solely for the sake of advancing their own political career. We see the greatest tragedy possible follow as a result of religious Jews joining together with the reshaim. Formerly Torah-true Jews collaborate with the most evil deniers of Hashem against other frum Yidden, simply because these other Yidden are aligned with a different political party.

The sages enacted that the Jewish People should take upon themselves different practices to remember the destruction of the Beis Hamikdash. However, we must think: why was the Beis Hamikdash destroyed? Chazal give us the answer: because of baseless hatred among Jews. How can ehrliche Yidden in Eretz Yisroel and generate the worst sinas chinam that exists in the world, both in quantity and "quality," by involving themselves in the Knesset and the Israeli elections? They are destroying the Beis Hamikdash all over again! The simple fact is that a Jew cannot remain ehrlich or uncompromisingly Torah-true when involved constantly in the filth that pervades the Knesset. Contrary to popular belief, when more religious Jews are elected to the Knesset, there has been no victory for the Torah or Klal Yisroel. All this "victory" means is that more ehrliche Yidden will sell themselves out to the lowest depths of satanical evil. Can there be a more tragic event than this? We must understand the extent of the tragedy that this is. Hashem's Holy name is desecrated every time a Chareidi member of Knesset opens his mouth to speak the Zionist language and to scrape before the evil heretics.
The Satmar Rebbe, ZY"A, in Vayoel Moshe explains clearly the severity of the prohibition against a Jewish state in Eretz Yisroel before Moshiach. The Rebbe explains in the name of the Maharal that to violate the oaths with which Hashem adjured Klal Yisroel against ascending to Eretz Yisroel as a wall (i.e., by force, which is how the Zionist State was established), is the equivalent of idolatry, and one is obligated give up his life, if necessary, in order not to violate them. This stringency, explains the Rebbe, is because the oaths we swore to Hashem are part and parcel of our basic faith, our faith in Hashem while in galus and our faith in Hashem's promise to our forefather Avraham, that Hashem Himself will be the one to give Eretz Yisroel to the Jewish People. To violate these principles of belief is therefore tantamount to heresy. When a Jew, chas v'shalom, commits heresy, he alters his spiritual makeup, denying the very essence of his soul, separating himself from Hashem and the Torah.

With this understanding we must ask, how could anyone who calls himself a Jew even walk into the Knesset, the structure that symbolizes the worst brand of avodah zarah in existence today? Even more, how could anyone who calls himself a Jew run for a seat in the Knesset to idle away his days in a temple of idol worship and heresy? Let us thank Hashem that our dwelling is in the Batei Midrash and in the ehrliche Yiddishe homes, which will never bend to heresy or immorality!

Many frum Jews are, unfortunately misled into believing that religious MKs are helping the Jewish people like askanim and are stemming the tide of evil coming from the secular MKs. The sad truth, however, is that the Chareidi MKs are the messengers of the sitra achra. The Satan has deluded them and many other into believing that Chareidi MKs are essential for the survival of Torah. We must look past this fog of falsehood and see the truth: religious MKs are helping further agendas of heresy, and giving tacit approval to the heretical concept of the existence of a "Jewish State" in Eretz Yisroel before the coming of Moshiach.

Throughout the ages, ehrliche Yidden have always understood that it is essential to place as much distance as possible between ourselves and the heretics. This is the genuine, Torah-true path. We must follow in this way with uncompromisingly, and in this merit may we merit to greet Moshiach Tzidkeinu speedily and in our days. Amein!
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Someone once asked the Ponovezher Rav why he did not join the Knesset and attempt to effect positive change. The Rav responded, "I am not rich enough." Perplexed, the person said, "One does not have to be rich to run for a Knesset seat." The Ponevezher Rav explained, "The halacha is that whenever one, chas v'shalom, hears heresy, he must tear kriyah in anguish. If I were to join the Knesset, I would here heresy so frequently that I would have to constantly buy new clothes. For this I do not have the money."

7. The Torah teaches us that when Bilam gazed upon the Jewish camp, he saw the purity and goodness of the camp, personified by the fact that the windows in each tent faced away from the windows in the tent next door, in order to maximize privacy and tznius. Through the modesty exhibited by Bnei Yisroel, all of Bilam's curses were turned into blessings and all he was able to utter was praise of Klal Yisroel. We see from this incident the great importance and power of a pure camp. This concept is also expressed, in a certain sense, by the Satmar Rebbe, ZY"A, in Divrei Yoel (Parashas Tzav, p. 143). The Rebbe explains that although the Jewish People were, of course, surrounded by the clouds of glory as they travelled through the desert, there were some people whom the clouds could not tolerate and therefore ejected. Anyone who had thoughts of idol worship or doubts in emunah was spit out of the ananei hakavod, and were then subject to danger.

It is imperative that we protect ourselves even from heresy and idol worship in thought. Doubts in emunah and thoughts of idol worship taint our minds and pull us farther and farther away from Hashem, chas v'shalom, making us vulnerable to attack from the modern-day forces of Amaleik, just as those who were expelled from the ananei hakavod were damaged by the evil forces of Amaleik. Let us gather our strength, cling to Hashem, to His Torah and to the true Tzaddikim, and through this we will merit to be saved from falling into the trap of heresy and idol worship.

8. We live in a time of many dangers. We are surrounded by threats, both to our physical and spiritual well-being. The Rebbe explains in Divrei Yoel (Parashas Balak p. 132) how we can overcome these obstacles. We must understand that everything, including every danger with which we are faced, comes only from Heaven. The Rebbe teaches that we do indeed have the power to turn over the curses and harsh decrees in every generation. We can accomplish this through the power of the batei knesios and batei midrashos. Through entering shul and davening, we can overturn all harsh decrees. Through the proper fulfillment of Torah and mitzvos, we can overturn all harsh decrees. If we attach ourselves to Hashem and His holy Torah, we will have no reason to fear.

This is a point that is often not clearly understood today. Many people have been deluded by the heretics into believing that everything that occurs is due to natural causes. A primary example of such a pitfall can be seen in Eretz Yisroel today, where even formerly Torah-true Jews have sunk into the mentality that every decision effecting Klal Yisroel is based on how much political pull a particular individual has. Many Charedi MKs have fallen into the web of the Yetzer Hara who convinces them that "Kochi v'otzem yadi," through my strength and might, I acquired everything I have. This is simply idol worship, and it is a terrible disgrace that so many ehrliche Yidden have fallen for this ruse.

9. The Satmar Rebbe in Divrei Yoel (Parashas Balak, p. 111) brings from the Zohar that when Bilam received prophecy, he did not actually receive prophecy from Hashem. The Torah uses the term "Elokim" to describe the source of Bilam's prophecy. The Zohar explains that since avodah zarah is also called "elokim," we understand that Bilam received his nevuah from the forces of evil and the Sitra Achara. When Bilam spoke to king Balak's ministers, however, he used the term "Hashem" when discussing his prophetic experience. Bilam did this in order to fool his listeners into believing that Hashem was on his side and that he was privy to true wisdom and insight about Hashem, while the truth was that the evil Bilam was receiving messages from the forces of impurity instead.

In the same way, the Zionists experienced miracles through the power of the Sitra Achara, but they claimed the miracles came from Hashem and that this showed that Hashem approved of their state and their actions. May Hashem guide us to distinguish between truth and falsehood!