In Parshat Balak, the Torah recounts Balak’s hateful fear of Israel and his unsuccessful attempts to curse them through the prophet Bilaam. His claim that the ‘multitudes of Israelites will take over everything if we don’t stop them’ records perhaps the first anti-Semitic sentiment expressed and acted upon. The constant attacks of anti-Semitism that the children of Israel have experienced historically are rooted in this Torah account.
Balak’s four separate attempts don’t succeed as Israel’s ultimate triumph is described in detail by Bilaam. His prophetic statements describe the true nature and history of Israel. Let us learn Rav Kook’s prophetic expansions of two of Bilaam’s central utterances:
הֶן־עָם֙ כְּלָבִ֣יא יָק֔וּם וְכַאֲרִ֖י יִתְנַשָּׂ֑א
“The nation will rise up like the king of beasts, and will lift itself like a lion.” (BaMidbar 23:24)
Rav Kook was in London from 1916-1919. Around 1917-as the
Balfour Declaration was coming into being, he wrote a prophetic expansion of Bilaam’s prophecy.
“Our nation will be built and established. It will return to its strength, to all its foundations of life through its faithfulness and reverence. [Israel’s] exalted Godly sanctification will expand, become courageous, perfect and grow strong.
All the builders of our nation will come to the deep truth of this principle. And then with a voice full of strength and might- they will call to themselves and their nation: “Let us go forth and return to HaShem.” (Hoshea 6:1)
And this will be a true return. The return will create a foundation of strength, and it will give power and might to all its physical and spiritual branches; to all the activities and paths that are necessary to build and perfect the nation; to awaken it to renewal; to support its establishment.
Eyes will open, the soul will be purified, its light will shine and its reach will grow. A created nation will awaken; a great nation, powerful and abounding. The light of Elohim is upon it…“It will rise up like the king of beasts, and will lift itself like a lion.” (BaMidbar 23:24) -Notebook 8:126
We can certainly see the prophetic accuracy of this clear statement describing the rebirth of the powerful Israel.
And what will be the nature of this nation rooted in Divinity?
Bilaam described it in his next vision:
מַה־טֹּ֥בוּ אֹהָלֶ֖יךָ יַעֲקֹ֑ב מִשְׁכְּנֹתֶ֖יךָ יִשְׂרָאֵֽל׃
“How good are your tents Jacob, your tabernacles Israel.” (Ibid, 24:5)
In Switzerland in 1915, Rav Kook describes the future influence of Israel:
“ ‘How good are your tents Jacob, your tabernacles Israel.’ The glow of the world will be fully revealed through the strength of Israel as it sprouts and rises. The hidden secret will become clear to all the nations and kingdoms…that [the world’s future] depends on the revival of the community of Israel. It’s revival- natural and miraculous, spiritual and material, ethical and practical, internal and external.
[It will be] ‘a glorious crown in the hand of HaShem, a royal diadem in the palm of the God of Israel.’ (Isaiah 62:3). ‘He will be called the God of all the earth’ (Ibid, 54:5). “And all flesh, as one, will see that HaShem Himself has spoken.”
(Ibid, 40:5)-Notebook 7:36
The close circle around Rav Kook concluded that Rav Kook was experiencing prophetic revelations. In these pieces written during WW1, we see that Rav Kook is integrating Bilaam’s and Isaiah’s prophecies as he describes the birth and the positive world wide influence that Israel will have in the world.
May we merit to experience the full manifestation of these visionary statements.
May the powerful rebirth of Israel illuminate the whole world with Divine light and blessing.
Quickly in our days.