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In this week’s Torah portion, Balak, we find that Balak, the king of Moav, decided to hire Bilaam, a prophet of the gentile nations, to curse the Jews. Because a prophet is only Hashem’s “mouthpiece,” rather than cursing the Jews, he lost his free choice and blessed them.
His blessings are among the greatest blessings recorded in the Tanach. They deal specifically with the coming of our Righteous Redeemer. The Rambam writes that Bilaam’s prophecies discussed the most exceptional times for the Jews. He writes that “the portion of Bilaam also refers to Moshiach. He prophesied about two anointed kings. The first anointed one being King David, who saved the Jews from their oppressors. He also said prophecy regarding the final anointed king who will arise from his descendants and save Israel at the end of days.”
In our Parshah, it is written that “A ruler shall come out of Yaakov (the Jews) and destroy the remnant of the city.” Rashi cites the words “and destroy the remnant of the city,” and makes the following comments. “Of the most prominent city of Edom, namely Rome. He says this regarding the King Moshiach, of whom it says, ‘and may he reign from sea to sea,’ and ‘the house of Aisov will have no survivors.’”
We need to understand why such amazing, historic prophecies had to be delivered to us by a gentile prophet. Not only was he a gentile, but he was an even greater ant-Semite than Balak was!!
Ovadiah was the one who prophesied the destruction of Aisov, the nation of Edom. He said that “those who save us shall ascend upon Mt. Zion to judge the mountain of Aisov, and Hashem will have the kingdom.” The Sages of the Talmud tell us that this was because “Ovadiah (the prophet!) was a convert to Judaism from Edom – Aisov. This is in keeping with the folk saying that from the very forest itself comes the (handle of the) axe (that fells it).” In other words, the prophecy of the destruction of Aisov came from Aisov himself. Here as well, the prophecy of the fall of the nations of the world had to come from a prophet of the nations of the world.
I wish one and all a good Shabbos! May we merit the time of the complete and true redemption!
Rabbi Shmuel Mendelsohn
Adapted from Likkutei Sichos Volume 18, Page 283
מוקדש לזכות כ”ק אדמו”ר נשיא דורנו מליובאוויטש
חיילי “צבאות השם” חיים ועדן עודד שיחיו מאריס
נדפס ע”י הוריהם
הרה”ת ר’ מנחם מענדל וזוגתו מרת חי’ מושקא שיחיו מאריס
. See Laws of Kings, Chapter 11, Paragraph 1.
. The verses which the Rambam cites are from our Parshah, Bamidbar 24:17-18.
. Ibid., Bamidbar 24:19.
. Tehillim 72:8.
. Ovadiah 1:18.
. Ovadiah 1:29.
. Talmud Sanhedrin 29, b.