But today, I got a steer in hitbodedut to begin with Bilaam, and his evil eye. This notion came to me when I was learning more about how being exposed to images and audio, particularly online, can excite the more ‘primitive’ parts of the brain that are at the root of our negative character traits, anti-social tendencies and bodily lusts.
(See more on some of the science behind this here:
So, the guy was talking about all this new technology that’s coming out, and then happened to mention the ‘one-eyed symbolism’ that seems to be rampant in Hollywood and other places at the moment - and suddenly the penny dropped what’s going on here.
Spiritually speaking, we’re still dealing with Bilaam and his (single….) evil eye! And it’s a much bigger test, spiritually, than most of us appreciate.
Here’s what it says about Bilaam in Likutey Moharan, 1:36:
“Bilaam was Moses’ ‘opposite’ within the realm of evil, as written: ‘He knows the knowledge of the most high,’ (Numbers 24:3). And the letters of Bilaam’s name allude to the fact that he was the mirror image of the Torah within the realm of evil.
The ב is the first letter in the Torah, the ל is the last letter in the Torah, the ע (numerically 70) represents the 70 nations, and the מ (numerically 40) represents the 40 days during which the Torah was transmitted. Since he was in the realm of evil, therefore he was very sunken specifically in this [sexual] lust, as written: ‘Have I not cohabited’ (referring to the donkey) (Numbers 22:30).”
(I actually bring a lot of lesson 1:36 down in my book ‘Unlocking the secret of the Erev Rav’ - go here for more details and (a girl can hope…) to buy the book.)
Rebbe Nachman tells us:
“Know! The all-encompassing trait of these negative traits of the seventy nations is sexual lust. It is also the all-encompassing rectification, in that whoever breaks this lust will easily be able to break all the other lusts.”
Now, remember Bilaam had one, very evil eye? Take a look a look at these photos:
It seems to be that God is cluing us in that the most evil things in the world, the things that are rooted at the very high levels of spiritual impurity, come neatly stamped with some sort of ‘one eye’ thing, so we can make the connection to Bilaam, and know exactly how serious the problem is, spiritually.
In Chayey Moharan (translated as ‘Tzaddik), we find the following (244):
“Once the Rebbe was complaining to me about the great suffering he had to endure. He told me that every day when he was praying he was forced to think about Bilaam. He didn’t say any more, but the literal implication of what he said was that every day when he prayed, he had the task of crushing the wicked Bilaam and eliminating the filth and impurity he had brought into the world.”
In Pirkey Avot (Ethics of our Fathers), Chapter 5, Mishnah 19, it says the following:
“Anyone who possesses the following three qualities is a disciple of our father Avraham. [And anyone who possesses] the opposite three qualities is a disciple of the wicked Bilaam. A good eye, a humble spirit and an undemanding soul - these are the disciples of our father Abraham.
An evil eye, a haughty spirit and a greedy soul - these are the disciples of the wicked Bilaam.
How do the disciples of our father Avraham differ from the disciples of the wicked Bilaam? The disciples of our father Avraham partake of this world and inherit the world to come…But the disciples of the wicked Bilaam inherit Gehinnom and descend to the abyss of destruction.”
(Take a look at THIS post on www.ravberland.com (they’re still over on the temporary website, as their old websites were completely hacked to pieces by the very ‘professional’ people that did it.)
Rashi explains that Bilaam’s evil eye was rooted in his lust for money.
(Take a look at this post: how-to-overcome-the-lust-for-money-give-charity)
He was haughty because he ‘knows with the knowledge of the Most High’ (i.e. he knew stuff that most people don’t about how the world really works at a spiritual level). And the Rambam explains that his greedy soul (for sexual lust and worldly pleasures) could be seen in the advice he gave the Moabites to abandon their daughters to harlotry.
“For a man always counsels others on the basis of his nature and spirit.”
There’s so many ends to pull together here, but here’s a little of what’s occurred to me.
1) Anything that has a single eye on it - like all the stuff coming out of Hollywood, like the US dollar bill (lust for money, anyone?) - all this stuff is one of the massive clues God is giving us about where things are spiritually rooted in the world.
2) What Bilaam couldn’t do with his direct cursing and evil sorcery, he accomplished by enticing Am Yisrael into licentious behavior.
3) Bilaam represents the highest, most dangerous source of spiritual tumah¸ spiritual impurity, in the world.
4) We’re still very much ‘fighting Bilaam’ today - and it’s all connected to modern technology (aka ‘knowledge of the Most High’), the lust for money, and the all-encompassing ‘negative trait’ of the 70 nations, i.e. licentiousness.
5) The more a Jew is ‘sunk’ in Bilaam’s trait, the more they will act like an Erev Rav, and will miss out on the world-to-come. (God forbid!)
6) There is a direct link between the people who are consuming a lot of TV, internet, movies, Facebook, and all the rest of the one-eyed spiritual tumah stuff and personality changes whereby the primitive brain - and the pull towards lusts, anger, jealousy and other negative traits - are strengthened, often culminating in a person falling away from personal holiness, God, and Torah.
The Sages in Tractate Brachot 12b commented on the verse ‘After your hearts [and after your eyes]’ (Numbers 15:39) that: ‘After your hearts refers to heresy and after your eyes refers to sexual lust.’
Rebbe Nachman also teaches that indulging in this lust literally drives people insane. To put it into higher words, he writes in Lesson 1:36: “Bilaam advised Balak to lead them astray into sexual lust, in order to damage their vessels.”
Rav Natan then explains: “Blessing and curse are created by man himself, according to his vessel.” And the vessel is a person’s mind…
There is a lot, lot more to say about this. But what’s clear is that the deepest forces of spiritual impurity are trying to impact people’s free choice to choose good, and to empower the 70 facets of the Torah, and the medium that’s enabling that is technology, especially the big (and small…) screen.
When our Sages keep telling us to chuck out our i-phones and minimize contact with internet-connected computers, they know EXACTLY what they’re talking about. There is far more going on here, spiritually, than inadvertently seeing some immodestly-dressed woman or lewd act (although these things are clearly spiritual poison all by themselves.)
‘Kosher’ filters aren’t going to block modern technology’s ability to strengthen the primitive brain and its negative character traits, and directly affect your personality and your nervous system.
So if you’re even a little bit serious about keeping your soul (and mental faculties…) intact, disconnect from the internet, and especially movies and images, as much as you possibly can.
Because Bilaam’s evil eye is currently working overtime to prevent the geula.