Topic: Kabbalistic Concepts | Posted:July 13, 2016
When Bilaam begins to prophesize, he says, “May I die the death of the righteous, and in the afterlife, let me be like the righteous.” But we know that Bilaam was killed by Pinchas in a not positive way, so it would therefore seem that this prophecy is not true. Bilaam did not die the death of the righteous. So, why in the Torah would it say a prophesy that is a lie? The Ari tells us it is because the secret of this is that Bilaam was reincarnated as Naval.
What is the story? The Ari says there are incarnations of Bilaam that we know of: as Laban, who was a negative person, then as Bilaam, and then, the Ari says Bilaam’s next incarnation was as a rock. Because Bilaam used his mouth to curse, he was reincarnated as a stone so he couldn’t use his mouth. Then his next incarnation was as a person named Naval, who lived during the time when Saul still considered himself king, but King David was already anointed. As such, there were people on King David’s side, and there were people on King Saul’s side.
King David - if you read the story in the Prophets - one day sends messengers to a very wealthy man named Naval, having them say to him that when his people were traveling with their herd, King David and his soldiers protected him. And because of that, King David now asks that Naval send them some food and drink so they can sustain themselves.
Although Naval knows who King David is, he says, “Who is David?” meaning, “who is this nobody?” He’s saying there’s no way he is going to help this nobody, and he speaks negatively about King David. Abigail, the wife of Naval, hears this and realizes her husband made a terrible mistake. She stops the messenger and sends food and drink back to King David without telling her husband. Then it says that suddenly Naval’s heart died within him; he had a heart attack.
So, we read the story in Prophets and seemingly there’s something terrible that Naval did at the end of his life, and because of it, he fell and died. However, the Ari says the secret of this is that Naval, who was an elevated soul, was reincarnated from Bilaam - the Bilaam we meet in the portion of Balak.
The power of Bilaam was in his mouth, to curse people, and Pinchas was actually assisting the process of the correction of the soul of Bilaam, who was reincarnated into a stone that cannot talk, so with that he could begin the correction of his evil mouth. And when he came and was reincarnated again into the soul of Naval, having been the stone prepared his soul for its correction. But his incarnation as Naval was the first time that he was back in human form to truly begin his correction, and he cursed King David.
King David wasn’t just sending messengers to some guy; King David knew the great soul he was dealing with, and that Bilaam was here again to begin his correction. Therefore, he sent messengers to intercede, to give him the chance to heal and purify his mouth. King David knew that Naval came to correct the evil speech of Bilaam, but unfortunately, Naval in that incarnation, still was not able to hold back his tongue. But after speaking, somehow Naval realized that he had missed the opportunity for correction, and he became so upset for the missed opportunity that he had a heart attack.
If you look at the story in Prophets, Naval was not a very good guy; however, the Ari tells us he was a great soul. After falling with King David and speaking badly to him, what had happened to him previously gets revealed, and therefore his first death of righteousness is as Naval. But it continues.
Bilaam’s next stage of incarnation after Naval was as Barzillai the Gileadite We read in the Haftarah of Vayechi that as King David is dying on his death bed, he tells his son, King Solomon, make sure that you always do good to Barzillai and his sons. Why? Not just because Barzillai assisted King David where Naval did not want to help him, but because the Ari is revealing to us that King David knew that Barzillai wasn’t just Barzillai; he was actually the incarnation of Naval and of Bilaam. Therefore, he makes his son King Solomon promise to always take care of Barzillai and his children. What Naval did not correct in his incarnation as Naval, he corrected in his incarnation with Barzillai, and Barzillai’s death was the death of the righteous; as such, the prophesy of Bilaam came true. And then Bilaam is reincarnated in the son of Barzillai, and by that time, is completely corrected.
Here, the Ari is revealing to us the story of one soul. But it isn’t just true about one soul; it is true about all of us. Souls are never static. We have to begin to realize that every soul, no matter how it might seem, is in a process of correction. We can look at somebody and say they have fallen, but if we had real vision, we would realize that there is only always growth. And we have to awaken this consciousness to prepare ourselves for the Gemar HaTikun.
It is important to study this, awaken this, and know this about ourselves and others: there are no negative souls. There is nobody who is falling. All souls are righteous, and everybody is in the process of correction. People don’t realize that there is tremendous, elevated holiness and Light coming out from anything we see as negative. If we look at Bilaam as a negative person when we read this, then we’re reading what happened thousands of years ago. We’re connecting to something that doesn’t exist anymore. But on Shabbat Balak, we’re meeting the righteous Bilaam. Bilaam was a tzadik way before we were even beginning our corrections.