כִּֽי־מֵרֹ֤אשׁ צֻרִים֙ אֶרְאֶ֔נּוּ וּמִגְּבָע֖וֹת אֲשׁוּרֶ֑נּוּ הֶן־עָם֙ לְבָדָ֣ד יִשְׁכֹּ֔ן וּבַגּוֹיִ֖ם לֹ֥א יִתְחַשָּֽׁב׃
It is written in the Gemorro (Sanhedrin39/a), “A certain heretic said to R‘ Avina, “It is written, “Who is like Your people Yisroel, a unique nation on Earth.” (The heretic asked) Why do you think that you are so special? You are also intermixed with us (the nations of the world). Like it is written, “All nations are a nonentity in His sight…” He (R‘ Avina) replied, “One of yours (Billum) testified about us (that we are unique), “There is a people that dwells apart, Not reckoned among the nations”.
Zera Shimshon asks why did R‘ Avina stress that Billum agreed that we are unique. The heretic proved his point (that we were not unique) simply by citing a possuk without mentioning who said it. Why then did R‘ Avina have to say that it was “one of yours” who agreed that we are unique?
He answers in light of the Medrash (quoted in Rashi Bamidbar 23/9) on the possuk, “There is a people that dwells apart, Not reckoned among the nations.”
The Medrash comments, “Not reckoned among the nations….When they rejoice no other nation rejoices with them… and when the nations are prosperous they (Bnei Yisroel) eat with each one of them and yet it is not taken into account to diminish their reward in the World To Come…”
In other words, on the one hand we are connected with the nations of the world, when they are prosperous, but on the other hand we are separate, when we rejoice.
In light of this, Zera Shimshon explains that the heretic’s complaint was that it isn’t right that the Jewish people rejoice with the other nations but the other nations don’t rejoice with the prosperity of the Jewish people.
In truth Yaakov and his descendants don’t really deserve any happiness in this world. When Yaakov and Eisav divided the universe between themselves, Yaakov was meant to inherit the World To Come, with no part of this world, and Eisav was meant to inherit this world. However the Medrash explains that Yaakov convinced Eisav to give him also a small part of this world (even though according to the original division we were not meant to get part of this world).
Therefore, argued the heretic, since Eisav let the Jewish people enjoy a part of HIS inheritance, it is only fair that Eisav should also get a small portion of Yaakov’s portion and to rejoice when we rejoice. Since it is not like this, then the whole deal was a mistake, isn’t valid and he wants back even that small amount the Yaakov took.
R‘ Avina answered back that even though he might be right that the transaction was a mistake, since their prophet, Billum admitted that it was ours then it becomes legally ours because of the rule, “the admission of the litigant (baal din) is as valid as a hundred witnesses.”
Since R‘ Avina’s counter argument was built on the rule, “the admission of the litigant (baal din) is as valid as a hundred witnesses” he had to mention that Bilum agreed!
(יָדַעְתִּי אֵת אֲשֶׁר תְּבָרֵךְ מְבֹרָךְ וַאֲשֶׁר תָּאֹר יוּאָר:(במדבר כב/ו
Because I (Balak) know whoever you bless are blessed and whoever you curse will be cursed. (Bamidbar 22/6)
Zera Shimshon points out that when Balak mentions the people who Billam blesses he says that they “are blessed”; present tense. On the other hand when he mentions that people who Billam curses he says “will be cursed”; future tense. What is the reason for this change?
He answers in light of Rashi’s commentary in Parshas Shemos.
There it is written, “And Hashem said further to him (to Moshe), ‘Now put your hand into your chest,’ and he put his hand into his chest, and he took it out, and behold, his hand was leprous like snow.”(Shemos 4/6)
It is written in the next possuk, “And He (Hashem) said (to Moshe), ‘Put your hand back into your chest,’ and he put his hand back into his chest, and [when] he took it out of his chest, it had become again like [the rest of] his flesh.”
Rashi asks that in the first possuk when it describes how Moshe’s hand became leperous it says, “he took it out, and behold, his hand was leprous like snow”. This implies that his hand became leperous only after he removed it from his chest. However it says in the second possuk, when Moshe put his hand into his chest to be healed, “[when] he took it out of his chest, it had become again like [the rest of] his fleshhad from his chest”. This implies that his hand healed when it was still on the chest and not only after he removed it. Why the change?
Rashi answers, “From here, [we learn] that the Divine measure of good comes quicker than the measure of retribution, for in the first instance [verse 6] it does not say, from his chest.
In the same fashion, explains Zera Shimshon, we can understand the change of tenses in our possuk.
The berachos of Billum take effect immediately but the curses, take a little time to take effect because, “the Divine measure of good comes quicker than the measure of retribution.”
(וַיַּעֲמֹד מַלְאַךְ יְדֹוָד בְּמִשְׁעוֹל הַכְּרָמִים גָּדֵר מִזֶּה וְגָדֵר מִזֶּה: (במדבר כב/כד
And the malach of Hashem stood in the path of vineyards with a fence on this side and a fence on that side. (Bamidbar 22/24)
Zera Shimshon asks why is it important for the Torah to mention that the Malach stood in a path of vineyards between two walls. Why wouldn’t it have been enough to say simply that the Malach stood on a path closed in by two walls?
He answers in light of the Medrash Rabah (Parshas Noach) that says that after Noach left the ark and planted a vineyard he met a female demon. She said to him, “Let’s be partners (in the vineyard). But be careful, she warned, because if you take from my portion I will strike and injure you.”
In other words the Medrash teaches us that vineyards and wine are not something simple but they have two parts, one portion is kosher and the other one belongs to the Satan. Therefore when someone drinks wine he has to heed the advice that the female demon gave to Noach and be very careful not to “cross lines” and take from the “other” half.
According to this, Zera Shimshon explains, the reason that the Malach appeared to Billum in a vineyard was to allude to him that he is similar to a vineyard in that he also has two parts. One the one hand Hashem gave him prophecy but on the other hand there is an evil part of him that belongs to the Satan. The Malach, who was a Malach of Mercy, was warning him not to fall into the hands of Satan but to carry out the wishes of Hashem.
According to this, adds Zera Shimshon, we can also understand why the Malach appeared to Billum between two walls. It is to allude to him that he has to be very very careful to stay on the right side of the partnership in him and not to go to the side of the Satan.
HaRav Shimshon Nachmaini, author of Zera Shimshon lived in Italy about 300 years ago in the time of the Or HaChaim HaKodesh.
The Chida writes that he was a great Mekubal and wrote many sefarim including sefarim about “practical kabbolo“ but asked that all of his sefarim be buried after he passes away except for Zera Shimshon and Niflaos Shimshon on Avos.
He had one child who died in his lifetime (hence the name “Zera Shimshon“) and in the preface he promises for people who learn his sefarim after he dies “... And your eyes will see children and grandchildren like the offshoots of an olive tree around your tables, wise and understanding with houses filled with all manner of good things… and wealth and honor……”
These d’vrai Torah are dedicated to Esther Yenta Bas Chana Chassia. In the merit of the learning Zera Shimshon’s divrai Torah, Hashem should answer her prayers and she should quickly find her proper match along with all the other members of Clal Yisroel who are also looking for their zivug hagun.
If you are interested in buying your own copy of the Hebrew version of Zera Shimshon
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