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Section: Parshas HaShavua   Category: Quick Vort
Parshas Balak: Ohr HaChaim HaKadosh - Perplexing Questions From the Malach

During Bilam's journey to Moav his donkey gave him trouble three times as the Malach impeded his path. After the third time when the Malach completely blocked the way and Bilan had an argument with his donkey the Malach appeared to Bilam and asked him why he hit his donkey since the Malach made the donkey stop.

The Ohr HaChaim HaKadosh asks what was the meaning of the question why did you hit your donkey? Bilam hit him because he stopped. Further more the Malach complained that it was he the Malach who stopped the donkey. What was the complaint if Bilam did not see the Malach?

The Ohr HaChaim answers that the Malach's intention was twofold. First he wanted to embarrass Bilam and make him admit with his own mouth that he did not see the Malach. He wanted Bilam who knew Daas Hashem to admit before the whole contingent that his mystical vision is limited. Bilam's answer to these charges were very sobering. First, he did not see the Malach, and even more embarrassingly his donkey did.

Furthermore says the Ohr HaChaim the Malach wanted to show him the heavy price for his dastardly plan. The gemara (Sanhedrin 106a) says that after scheming with Balak, Bilam lost his nevua and became only a Kosem, magician. The Malach wanted to show him how quickly his mystical vision will deteriorate by continuing this mission. Just by embarking on it he already lost his ability to see Malachim.