Israel Forever

For the week ending 30 June 2007 / 14 Tammuz 5767

A Nation that Dwells Alone

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
The Color of HeavenArtscroll
When the Moabites hired Bilam to place a devastating curse on the Jewish people, this evil prophet was compelled by Heaven to bless them and sing their praise.

"A nation that dwells alone" are the words of Bilam we will hear read this Shabbat in our weekly portion. This is both a prophecy and a description.

In his commentary Rashi sees this as a prophecy that when all other nations disappear, Israel will not share their fate. It may be suggested that this is also a description of the ideal condition of Israel as a nation maintaining its own spiritual identity and resisting the pressures of assimilation.

Description and prophecy thus blend into an historical warning that only by spiritually dwelling apart from the nations will we merit the fulfillment of the prophecy of an Israel forever.

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