1. "If you walk in My statutes..." (Vayikra 26:3). Rabbi Chiya opened with the verse, "O My people, remember now what Balak king of Moab devised, and how Bilaam, the son of Beor answered him..." (Michah 6:5). "O My people, remember;" happy is the portion of this people, that their Master reproves them so. "O My people, remember," though you have deviated from the way, you are My people, and I do not wish to repay you according to your deeds.
2. Rabbi Yitzchak said: Happy is the portion of the people whose Master says to them, "O My people, what have I done to you, and wherein have I wearied you? Testify against Me" (Ibid. 3). "What Balak king of Moab devised," THAT IS, how many things did he plan to do to destroy you, and how much wizardry has he incited against you.
3. Rabbi Yosi said: The Holy One, blessed be He, said to Yisrael, "Remember now." Woe to us that we cry, we sob and weep, "Remember, Hashem, what is come upon us" (Eichah 5:1). "Remember, Hashem, against the children of Edom" (Tehilim 137:7). Yet He does not want to pay attention to us, because when He said to us, "O...remember," in words of entreaty, we did not attend to Him. We therefore shout, with words like: "Remember, Hashem, what is come upon us," "Remember, Hashem, against the children of Edom," "Remember Your congregation, which You have purchased of old" (Tehilim 74:2). "Remember me, Hashem, when You show favor to Your people" (Tehilim 106:4). Yet He does not wish to pay attention to us.
4. Rabbi Yehuda said: Surely the Holy One, blessed be He, constantly pays attention to us and remembers us, for had He not attended to Yisrael and remembered us, they would not have survived in exile a single day. Hence it says, "And yet for all that, when they are in the land of their enemies..." (Vayikra 26:44). For the Holy One, blessed be He, does not reward us in accordance with our deeds.
5. Come and behold: Balak was wise, and the greatest sorcerer in his deeds; even more so than Bilaam. I have learned that when a man wishes for something from the works of the Holy One, blessed be He, it behooves him to arouse it through a deed below, since through the lower deed the upper deed is aroused. The deed below should be done in Holiness, as already explained. Where there is no deed, there is speech, and it depends upon word of mouth to provoke the deed above. As supernal Holiness should be aroused by action and speech, so should all those from the Side of Defilement arouse their aspect through action and word of mouth.
6. Though Bilaam was the greatest of all the sorcerers in the world, Balak was a greater sorcerer than he, for Balak was the greatest in divination, while Bilaam WAS GREAT in enchantment. Divination and enchantment are two grades; divination is supported by deeds, while enchantment is supported by sight and speech. The Spirit of Defilement is then roused upon them to be clothed by them, and it does what it does.
7. It is not so for holy Yisrael, for they are all holy, and all their deeds are done to bring a Holy Spirit upon them, as it is written: "until a spirit be poured upon us from on high" (Yeshayah 32:15). It is therefore written: "Surely there is no enchantment in Jacob, nor is there any divination in Yisrael" (Bemidbar 23:23). For Yisrael are attached to the side of supernal Holiness. Their deeds are done in Holiness; Holiness is brought upon them, and they are clothed with.
8. Come and behold: Balak was the greatest sage in divination, and Bilaam in enchantment. Therefore, when Balak wished to join him, it is written: "And the elders of Moab and the elders of Midian departed with the rewards of divination in their hand" (Bemidbar 22:7). Come and behold: according to word of mouth, Bilaam was the greatest sorcerer in the world, and by applying to enchantment he knew how to fix the time OF CURSING. HIS CURSES THEREFORE PREVAILED. Consequently, Balak wished to complete it with divination and enchantment, AND HENCE JOINED HIM.
9. The Holy One, blessed be He, said to him: 'Evil man, My children preceded you. They have something among themselves for which no Evil Sides, no wicked species, nor any magic in the world can approach them; all flee them. What is this? It is the Tent of Meeting, with its vessels of Holiness and articles of service of the Temple: incense of spices that annuls any wrath and fury in the world both above and below, the daily offerings and the burnt offerings, two altars upon which to perform the service of the altar, a table and its shewbread, the laver and its pedestal. There are also its articles of service RELATED TO speech: the ark, the two tablets of the Torah and Aaron who daily atones for the people in prayer.' When that wicked man saw this, he said: "Surely there is no enchantment in Jacob, nor is there any divination in Yisrael." Why? BECAUSE "Hashem his Elohim is with him, and the trumpet blast of a king is in him" (Bemidbar 23: 21)
10. THE HOLY ONE, BLESSED BE HE, therefore SAID: "O My people, remember;" pray be mindful of the time when Balak and Bilaam united to destroy you, but could not because I held you as a father holds his child and does not leave his child in the hands of another. "From Shittim to Gilgal" (Michah 6:5). What is THE RELATION between them? HE ANSWERS: The Holy One, blessed be He, said to Yisrael: 'Please remember that as long as you were attached to Me, that evil man did not prevail against you with his magic and wizardry. Once you loosened your hands from holding to Me, and were at Shittim, as it is written: "and the people ate, and bowed down to their Elohim" (Bemidbar 25:2), and at Gilgal, as it is written, "in Gilgal they have sacrificed bullocks" (Hoshea 12:12). Then your enemies overpowered you. What is the reason for all that? "That you may know the righteous acts of Hashem" (Michah 6:5), NAMELY, all the righteous deeds I did for you when you were attached to Me. I let nothing in the world have power over you, and the wrath above and below and the wicked things were not able to come near you.'