`106 Balak – Hidden Salvations
Chananya Weissman
June 24, 2021

The greatest miracles might be the ones we never know about.

This week's parsha describes the efforts of Moav and Midian to harm the Jewish people. According to Chazal, these historic enemies made peace just for this purpose (as rival Arab tribes did in modern times, and surely others have done throughout history). The Torah gives us a unique inside look at their plots against us, even their petty internecine squabbles.

Imagine that you were a Jew in the desert. While all this was going on, the Jews were busy gathering their daily man, studying Torah, bickering, and doing whatever else they did on a typical day in the desert. They had absolutely no idea that powerful kings and the greatest of their prophets were conspiring to destroy them, and that they were in serious danger. By the time they found out about it, it was already over. God had thwarted Balak's plans and forced Bilam to utter blessings instead of curses.

A similar thing happened not long before. In Parshas Chukas we learn that Hashem saved the Jews from an Emorite ambush on their way to Israel. The Emorites expected the Jews to pass through a narrow stream in a valley between two mountains. Their soldiers hid inside clefts in the mountains and planned to attack the Jews with projectiles from above while the Jews were sitting ducks down below. Before the Jews even reached the area, Hashem brought the two mountains together and crushed all the Emorites. The Jews only found out about the ambush after the fact, when the well brought them the dismembered body parts of their slain enemies so they could praise Hashem (see Rashi from Medrash 21:15-16).

In both cases the Jews were blissfully unaware that they were in grave danger, while Hashem was busy thwarting the plots of their enemies.

The Medrash teaches us that the nations of the world are constantly scheming against us, day and night. (Unfortunately I cannot recall the exact source, but trust me on this. If you know the Medrash, I would be grateful if you can provide the source. * Update: see below.) How many of these schemes – which we are obviously saved from – do we ever find out about? Even what we do eventually learn is surely only a small fraction.

Jews who believe that anything has changed are fools and playing with heresy. We are constantly under threat in a never-ending proxy war against God, with us as His ambassadors. It is no coincidence that the world is obsessed with Israel, and relatively small events in Israel dominate the international headlines. It is no coincidence that Israel was chosen as the world's laboratory for monstrous medical experiments to be unleashed upon the rest of humanity, regardless of how the professional liars spin it.

The Erev Rav who govern Israel are obsessed with destroying us from within. How many times have they sold us to our enemies, in how many ways? How many attacks have they made on the Torah, on Torah education, on the sanctity of our Land? The little we know is enough to demonstrate how devoted they are, to the exclusion of nearly all else. For all the damage they have wrought, how much has Hashem saved us?

How many thousands would have been murdered in Meron, where the Jews were helplessly crowded and ambushed like with the Emorites, if not for Hashem's incredible mercy?

How can it be that the Jews in America are surrounded by terrorist groups like Black Lives Matter and Antifa, in places where the social fabric is being ripped apart, where police are powerless, under governors who despise them, yet have (so far) escaped widespread coordinated attacks? The stupid galus Jews continue to downplay the grave danger that they are in, while grossly exaggerating the “protection” they can expect from the authorities.

How much has Hashem saved them while they go about their daily lives as if everything is fine? The miracles that must be going on behind the scenes are worthy of Hallel every single day.

We need to recognize the dangers and appreciate the miracles, even if we aren't privy to all the details. This is, I believe, the primary lesson of Balak. By doing this, we will surely merit even greater protection and revelation of God's wonderful ways.


Update: I'm honored to have many talmidei chachamim among my readers. I am indeed grateful to the editor of Hyehudi.org, who informed me of the very source I had in mind, Pesachim 87B, copied below, followed by Soncino translation with minor edits:

א"ר אושעיא מאי דכתיב צדקת פרזונו בישראל צדקה עשה הקב"ה בישראל שפזרן לבין האומות והיינו דא"ל ההוא מינא לר' חנינא אנן מעלינן מינייכו כתיב בכו כי ששת חדשים ישב שם וגו' ואלו אנן איתינכו גבן כמה שני ולא קא עבדינן לכו מידי אמר לו רצונך יטפל לך תלמיד א' נטפל ליה ר' אושעיא א"ל משום דלא ידעיתו היכי תעבדו תכלינן כולהו ליתנהו גבייכו מאי דאיכא גבייכו קרי לכו מלכותא קטיעתא אמר ליה גפא דרומאי בהא נחתינן ובהא סלקינן

R. Oshaia said: What is meant by the verse, Even the righteous acts of His Ruler in Israel?  The Holy One, blessed be He, showed righteousness [mercy] unto Israel by scattering them among the nations.  And this is what a certain sectarian [Roman heretic] said to R. Hanina, 'We are better than you. Of you it is written, For Joab and all Israel remained there six months, until he had cut off every male in Edom; whereas you have been with us many years, yet we have not done anything to you!'

Said R. Hanina to him, 'If you agree, a disciple will debate it with you.' [Thereupon] R. Oshaia debated it with him [and] he said to him, '[The reason is] because you do not know how to act. If you would [wish to] destroy us all, they are not among you. [Should you destroy] those who are among you, then you will be called a murderous kingdom!'

Said the sectarian to him, 'By the Capitol of Rome! With this [concern, how to destroy you without incurring odium] we lie down and with this [concern] we get up.'

Several other readers referenced a Medrash on Tehillim 117, though I could not find this specific point there. However, one included the following comment of the Vilna Gaon on Tehillim 117:

"The Vilna Gaon asks, “Why does the Psalmist say, (117)
 הללו את ה׳ כל גויים... כי גבר עלינו חסדו?

Should he not have said, כי גבר עליהם חסדו?

He answers, “This will be said when Mashiach comes and the non-Jews will realize that they were wrong all along! So it will be THEIR job to praise HaShem for all the times that THEY attempted to KILL US!

We cannot possibly praise HaShem for all of the pogroms that were attempted but fell through, the bombs that were concocted but blew up in the faces of the terrorists and we never found out about them!

Therefore, THEY, the non Jews will praise HaShem that גבר עלינו חסדו, that Hashem’s chessed was strong over US, because they know better than us how many times they plotted against us and failed, because of Hashem’s glorious chessed to US!"

Amen. Thanks to all who responded with this great information.