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Dovid Vigler

Celebrating the greatest antisemite in history?

by Pawel Gaul

You won’t believe what former Nazis are doing in Israel today!

If you were asked to identify the worst antisemite in history, whom would you choose?

The Torah (Midrash Tanchuma, Balak 2 and Bamidbar Rabba 20:2) identifies the worst antisemite of all time, the one who “hated them more than all other enemies,” as the Midianite King Balak that we recently read about in the Torah. As the Jews were decimating all the nations that blocked their progress toward the Promised Land, Balak decided to destroy them by hiring Bilam, the world’s most powerful magician, to curse them. The Torah portion relates the fascinating story of Bilam’s repeated, failed attempts to harm the Jews, pronouncing instead some of the greatest blessings our People have ever known.

It comes as quite a shock therefore when we realize that the Torah portion is actually named for this evil antisemite. Could you imagine a Torah portion being named “Arafat,” “Hitler,” or “Sadaam Hussein?” Why, pray tell, would the Torah honor such an abominable human being by perpetuating his legacy in our eternal Torah?!

In his inimitable style of seeing the light in every shadow, the Rebbe transforms our perception of evil as he solves this enigma. In a stroke of genius, the Rebbe observes that Balak’s son, King Eglon, was the father of two famous sisters—Ruth and Orpah, as documented in the Book of Ruth. Though Orpah lives on through Oprah (according to the BBC, Oprah’s mother named her Orpah in rural Mississippi in 1954, but since no one could pronounce or spell the Biblical name properly, the name Oprah stuck), Ruth became the great-grandmother of King David. Since King David is the ancestor of the Moshiach (Messiah) it turns out that Balak—the world’s worst antisemite—is actually the great-great-great grandfather of the righteous David and the ultimate redeemer of Israel!

As heinous as Balak seems at the outset, a closer look reveals a treasure of hidden good within him! Balak thus represents the incredible power of transformation—where the cruelest hater is converted into the kindest collaborator!

The secret behind the metamorphosis is that ultimately, G-d is always in control—sometimes He communicates to us through messengers of light and sometimes through messengers of dark, for reasons beyond our ability to fathom. There is no force in existence other than G-d, evil has no free reign. Hence, as soon as the antisemite has concluded his Divine mission, his evil facade is no longer necessary, and he is transformed into goodness.

I admit that this idea might sound radical. Lest you dismiss it as wishful thinking, I urge you to open your eyes and see it at play all around us.

This past Sunday, June 25, 2023, our colleagues in Berlin, Chabad Rabbi, and Mrs. Yehuda Teichtel, inaugurated the largest Jewish Center in Europe—a $44M project spanning 90,000 square feet, the majority of which was paid for by the German government! Thousands of Jewish children, seniors, and families will celebrate Jewish life in the heart of the Nazi “Fatherland,” courtesy of the children of Nazis themselves! Honoring the Jewish Community with their presence were representatives of the German government, including finance minister Stefan Evers; governing mayor of Berlin Kai Wegner; culture minister Joe Chialo; education minister Katharina Günther-Wünsch; and president of the state parliament of Berlin, Cornelia Seibeld.

In Israel’s gorgeous Judean desert in the Aruga Farm, children and grandchildren of Nazis today are volunteering to build Jewish homes in the most contested real estate on Earth in order to show the world that they support Jews and Israel.

Watch this astounding video, titled “Can’t Make This Up! – Ari Abramowitz: The Land of Israel Fellowship” by clicking here: https://youtu.be/0ST1G366QjA

Each time we say the name Balak, we are touching on a coded message—a profound secret that our ancestors wished for us to uncover when the time was right. Antisemites have no power over us—only the Master of the Universe does. Anything under G-d’s control is never out of control.

This meditation is so important to our survival that we affirm it twice each day as we proclaim “Shma Yisrael… Hashem Echad—Hear o’ Israel, G-d is ONE.” This means that G-d is one with every force in the world, powering it from backstage. No force exists in the universe outside of G-d, not even the darkest antisemites!

Accepting that G-d is in control doesn’t mean that He wants you to lean on a shovel and pray for a hole. We have to take action to protect ourselves from those who seek to harm us, sparing no effort or resources. We must be proactive in our prosecution of those who try to hurt us. The only difference is what goes on inside of it—there is no place for fear. Where there is fear, there is no faith. Leaning on our faith draws G-d’s light upon us; falling on our fear enshrouds us in the darkness of His apparent absence. When you fix your focus on G-d, G-d fixes your focus, transforming fiends into friends!

Let’s opt for true peace, knowing that G-d’s got this!

_______________________
Rabbi Dovid Vigler
Chabad of Palm Beach Gardens

6100 PGA Blvd, Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33418
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About the Author
Raised in South Africa and educated in some of the finest Yeshivas in Israel, England, New York, and Australia, Rabbi Dovid Vigler strives to share the beauty and depth of Judaism in a clear, conversational, and down-to-earth manner. Whether in private counseling, relatable sermons, weekly email broadcasts, or in his popular Torah classes on social media, he reaches out to every Jew with unconditional love, patience, and compassion. His inspirational talks and uplifting messages can be found on YouTube.com/JewishGardens and Facebook.com/JewishGardens
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