These and Those

Musings from Students of the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem


Posted on January 13, 2012 by Barer

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For this week’s parsha, I wanted to give over a small portion of a class I had the privilege of attending given by Shmuel Klitsner, talking about the strange episode at the Malon (inn), in which Hashem, or some representative, tries to kill Moshe.  Shmuel drew a number of fascinating connections between this episode and the episode (in Bamidbar, Numbers, 22) of Bil’am being stopped on the way to curse (eventually bless) Bnei Yisrael (the children of Israel) by an angel.  The parallels are far-reaching, from the language used (the prevalence of דרך, כבד, צר, and many others) to the themes – leg injuries, the connection of Tzippora (Moshe’s wife) to Bil’am ben Tzipor (Bil’am the son of Tzipor), and both protagonists being accompanied by two lads/children.  More than that, though, both are stories of prophets who have angered Hashem through not understanding their place in relation to HashemMoshe is too humble – he thinks that because he has a speech impediment, he will not be able to lead a people, but he does not acknowledge that if Hashem has chosen him, he will have all the tools he needs to succeed.  Bil’am has the opposite problem – even though Hashem has made it clear that he will not be able to curse Bnei Yisrael, he thinks he can anyways.  Finally, the divine presence in both stories is identified by secondary, female characters.  Tzippora is the one who springs into action and circumcises her son, which alleviates the threat to Moshe’s life.  And it is Bil’am’s female donkey (as opposed to the male donkey Moshe rides on) who can see the angel from the beginning, and who is eventually given the power of speech to show Bil’am what was clear to her.

Unable to see

What God has in store for us

We must show some trust