In this week’s Parsha, Bilaam untiringly attempts to curse Bnei Yisrael in order that they should be defeated. When Hashem doesn’t allow this to occur, Bilaam then successfully advises the nation of Moav to use their daughters to entice Bnei Yisrael to sin so Hashem should turn away from them!
Chaza”l tell us that Bilaam attained the level of prohecy that Moshe Rabbeinu himself reached! This was in order to avoid having the Goyim complain that if they only would have received prohecy, they also would have served Hashem and earned great reward. To forestall this, Hashem granted them Bilaam with the highest level of prohecy as if to say, “See what happens when you have a Navi?
This is astonishing. If Bilaam had this gift and communicated directly with Hashem, how could he engage in such behaviors and lead nations to sin?!
Harav Chaim Yitzchak Chaikin gives a Mashal, a parable to explain this: A woman asked her neighbor for a recipe in order to make the most delicious dessert. She followed instructions exactly and to her dismay, the dish tasted awful! She complained bitterly to her neighbor who responded, “Did you remember to wash out the pot from last week’s leftovers?” The woman shamefully answered that she had forgotten to do so!
Bilaam received a gift of prophecy on a level that will never be duplicated! However, his inate evil characteristics clouded his judgement to the point where he was incapabable of using this gift to progress spiritually and to elevate others. Moshe, on the other hand, relentlessly worked on himself to purify his character and was able to utilize his prophecy to transmit Torah for all times and to guide Bnei Yisrael.
Although we no longer have prophecy, Hashem is longing to shower us with wisdom so we can succeed spiritually. However, Hashem “grants wisdom to the wise” which in this context means to those who have Yiras Shamayim, Fear of Heaven. When a person works on his fear of heaven this will help purify him and enable himself to receive the most heavenly gifts!
By Rabbi Sharaga Thav