Vol 28.21 - Balak 2 Spanish French Audio Video
The Torah portion Balak relates how Balak, king of Moav, hired the prophet Bilam to curse the Jewish people. G‑d, however, frustrated the king’s scheme and caused Bilam to utter praises and blessings of the Jewish people.
Among Bilam’s words of praise and blessing, we find the following:1 “I see him Israel from the peak of flintrocks, and gaze upon him from the heights; it is a nation dwelling alone, entirely dissimilar to other nations.”
What is the connection between the two parts of the verse?
In explaining the words: “I see him Israel from the peak of flintrocks,” Rashi comments:2 “I gaze upon their beginnings and their roots, and see them braced and as strong as these flintrocks and rocky heights, on account of their Patriarchs and Matriarchs.” Bilam’s statement was thus allegorical.
When something is so profound that it cannot be understood or explained directly, it becomes necessary to draw an analogy from something less profound.
Here too, Bilam found it necessary to compare the Jewish people to flintrocks, though, in truth, they are much stronger than that.
Wherein lies this great strength?
The true power of a Jew lies not in his physical might but in his spiritual prowess, particularly his power of mesirus nefesh , a submission to the Divine that is so profound that he is willing to lay down his life if necessary for the realization of G‑d’s will.
The soul that possesses the power of mesirus nefesh is referred to3 as “the peak of flintrocks.”
This power emanates from a Jew’s mighty, firm and immutable faith in G‑d, a faith so powerful that a Jew will offer his very life in order not to renounce G‑d.4
Rashi thus states “I gaze upon their beginnings and their initial roots and see them braced and as strong as these flintrocks and rocky heights, on account of their Patriarchs and Matriarchs,” for the strength of mesirus nefesh is passed on to all Jews from the Patriarchs and Matriarchs.5
The power of mesirus nefesh is entirely different from the strength of mundane matter. In the physical realm, strength means that a corporeal entity exists in a powerful manner. Mesirus nefesh , however, presupposes the very opposite of being — the complete nullification of self.
The Alter Rebbe thus explains6 that the power to act with mesirus nefesh is a byproduct of G‑d’s shining within every Jewish soul, for mesirus nefesh flies in the face of nature; a living creature doesn’t do things that cause its own negation.
This then is the connection between the two parts of the verse: “I see him Israelfrom the peak of flintrocks … it is a nation dwelling alone, entirely dissimilar to other nations:”
Their power of mesirus nefesh causes the Jewish people to be entirely alone, wholly unlike other nations.
Since the power of mesirus nefesh is a gift granted from Above, it is not subject to the vagaries of time and space. Thus, although other traits transmitted from generation to generation may wane with time, the power of mesirus nefesh that Jews receive from the Patriarchs and Matriarchs is immutable.
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