Sharing Torah Insights

Balak- Time Management

Posted on י״ג בתמוז ה׳תש״ע (June 25, 2010) | in Balak | by

28 And the LORD opened the mouth of the donkey, and she said to Balaam, “What have I done to you, that you have struck me these three times (regalim)?”

Rashi comments, homiletically, that the donkey incredulously asked Bilam, You are trying to curse and uproot the nation that keeps the 3 festivals (three times; the shalosh regalim are the three festivals) each year!? You are not going to be successful!

The question is, why did the donkey specifically mention the fact that the Jewish People observe the 3 festivals? Couldn’t the donkey have mentioned any other mitzva the Jewish People kept?

The Shemen HaTov answers, Bilam thought he was the main controller of time in the world. The gemara in Brachos states that God ‘expresses’ His anger with the Jewish People each day for a split second. Bilam knew when this time was. Bilam thought he could curse the Jewish People at exactly that moment to evoke God’s wrath. (God showed mercy to the Jewish People by forgoing this moment on the day Bilam wanted to curse the Jews.)

The donkey responded to Bilam that you are not the only person that has a handle on the power of time in this world. The Jewish People (in the olden days at least) are given the power to determine when each festival would fall based on human testimony as to when each new month begins. In affect, the Jewish People as a whole, determined when each holiday would begin every year. (So powerful is this reckoning that even if retroactively, it is found out that a witness erred, we continue to celebrate the holiday based on his testimony). Therefore, you, Bilam (who just knows one point in time) do not have the power to uproot a nation which God granted the power to create their calender, in a sense.

(Following in these lines) The Shemen HaTov goes on the explain that this is why (soon after the story of Bilam) the Torah specifically mentions exactly when Aharon HaKohen died. This is because Aharon’s death was an atonement of sorts for a sin which had to do with time. [He doesn’t mention which sin, but I;m guessing he is referring to the sin of the Golden Calf, which stemmed somewhat from a timing error, in that the nation thought that Moshe was not coming back on a certain date. In actuality, they were off by a day. Aharon was minimally responsible for this sin.

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