- Why did Moav fear the Erev Rav, yet was disgusted with Bnei Yisrael?
- And how does Moav's response reflect the world response today? (Hint: Nothing's changed)
ג וַיָּגָר מוֹאָב מִפְּנֵי הָעָם מְאֹד כִּי רַב הוּא וַיָּקָץ מוֹאָב מִפְּנֵי בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל
Why the Moavites Feared the Erev Rav
The Moavites feared the Erev Rav because of their sheer size. Quoting from the Mechilta, the Kli Yakar numbers the Erev Rav population at 1,200,000.
We see this kind of fear today in Western countries, who fear the massive influx of people from cultures very different than theirs who won't respect their values.
And to digress a bit, it seems both are justified.
While the Erev Rav damages the Jewish people more than any other, they certainly also do great harm to non-Jews--including to themselves, both practically and spiritually. And just like the Moavites, the Western solution focuses on externals rather than internals, which ultimately will not help them.
Why the Moavites Feared Bnei Yisrael
The Moavite fear of Bnei Yisrael was Hashem's backing of Bnei Yisrael. The Hebrew word [v'yakatz] translated as "disgusted" comes from the word kotz [thorn]. The Kli Yakar notes how Bnei Yisrael is likened to the gefen, the grapevine in Tehillim 80:9:
You uprooted a vine from Egypt; You drove out nations and planted it.
The Moavites feared Bnei Yisrael's God-given ability to uproot themselves from Mitzrayim and come to their Homeland and drive out the nations there, casting them (including the Moavites) out by the root.
As the Kli Yakar describes:
As is customary throughout the world, when the owner of the field wants to plant a vineyard in a field full of thorns, he then uproots the thorns by the root and casts them aside in order to plant in their place the grapevine.
And who is "the Owner of the field"? And why are they messing with Him, especially in Moav's case, when they saw what He did with the Jews and Mitzrayim?
This is the mistake that foreign nations make repeatedly throughout history.
They see that the Jews have a special koach. And there are many of them who realize that this koach comes from Hashem. So why do they fight it?
How the World is Repeating Moav's Mistake
The following point has been hammered so many times already, but it bears repeating:
How was a decimated nation fresh from years in death camps--or weakened by years of poverty, disease, and persecution in their own Land--able to drive out the British Empire?
How was such a people able to revive their ancient language (and even their original currency?!) and bring forth the agricultural potential of a Land that had lain desolate for millennia under every kind of occupation?
How was it that within fifty years, this nation was able to make itself the hub of the world in the spiritual, medical, technological, and environmental arenas?
Throughout history, many of our enemies have believed in God and even held at least partly with the Torah.
Both the Christian bible and the Koran acknowledge the Jewish ownership of Eretz Yisrael and especially of Yerushalayim. And even secular non-Jews often proclaim the Torah as "a great history book!"
Yet the Christians and Muslims continue to make their assault on Yerushalayim.
And those same "great history book!" chanters choose to ignore the basic text that clearly shows the Land as belonging to us.
The secular world and the Muslims fight us literally.
The Christian world tries to undermine us at the spiritual level via missionizing and replacement theology--though both warped ideologies end up uprooting the very attribute which provides us with our blessing and our right to be in this Land in the first place.
What the Moavites should have done and what the other groups should do now is:
Or support us--according to the Torah definition of support.
That way, nobody gets hurt--not them and not us.
On the contrary, such yielding and support brings blessing all around.
But it's not going down that way.
Yet the Kli Yakar reassures with the idea that Torah sources have always reassured us:
This field has an Owner.
Eventually, the grapevine will be planted in its Land.
And the thorns will be uprooted and cast away.
May we all make choices that cast our lot with the grapevine and not with the thorns.
He served as rabbi and dayan and wrote several books, the most well-known being his commentary on the Chumash known as the Kli Yakar.
This is my own translation and any errors are also mine.