We Are Never Alone When God is on Our Side

In Parshat Balak, when Bilam (our enemy) blessed Israel (Bamidbar 23:9) he said “For from the top of the rocks I see him, and from hills I behold him. Behold! It is a nation that will dwell in solitude (am levadad yishkon) and not be reckoned among the nations.”


According to Midrash Hagadol, this is a reference to Israel’s mission to remain separate and distinct from the nations.


The Gemara is Sanhedrin 105a states that Bilam was among four commoners who have no share in Olam HaBa (the world to come).


The name Bilam can be separated into two words, Bilo Am (without a nation), meaning that he had no connection to the Jewish people and will not share their lot in Olam HaBa.


Bilam set a sign for himself where it is derived that he has no share in Olam HaBa. He said in Bamidbar 23:18: “May my soul die the death of the upright and my end will be like his.”


The Gemara explains what Bilam was implying when he made that statement: If I die a natural death, then my fate will be like the Jewish people and I will have a place in Olam HaBa. If I do not die a natural death, then I will join my people in Gehenom (Hell).


Bilam did not die a natural death, rather he was killed by the sword (Bamidbar 31:8). We therefore learn from here that he descended to Gehenom.


We learn here that righteous gentiles do have the opportunity to enter Olam HaBa.


Rav Saadya Gaon says that the words “and not be reckoned among the nations” means that B’nai Yisrael are not counted as equals among the nations because they are chosen and special.


Sforno says that Israel is a nation that will dwell in solitude and as it says in Parshat Haazinu, Devarim 32:12: “So the Lord alone did lead him and there was no strange god with him”. In the end, the Jewish people will always dwell on their own protected by God, how could anyone try to destroy them?”


We see from here that Bilam’s words do ring true. The Jewish people have remained separate and distinct from all of the other nations. Although we may sometimes feel alone, God is always with us.