Thursday, July 05, 2007
The root ק-ב-ה doesn’t recur very often in the Torah. Actually, it is only mentioned in parshas Balak. And it is mentioned in three different meanings: first, as imperative of curse, when Balak asks Bil’om to curse Bnei Yisroel, and amid Bilo’ms sermons. Second, toward the end of the parsha, as tent, dwelling “…אֶל-הַקֻּבָּה”, when Pinchas enters Zimri’s tent. Finally, “אֶל-קֳבָתָהּ”, in which case it refers to the stomach, as a euphemism.
It is quite strange that this infrequently used root would mean three seemingly unrelated words. I don’t know if there’s a definitive answer, but I have thought of the following possibility:
The posuk later says “וְלֹא-אָבָה לִשְׁמֹעַ אֶל-בִּלְעָם, וַיַּהֲפֹךְ לְּךָ אֶת-הַקְּלָלָה, לִבְרָכָה - and G-d refused to listen to Bil’om and changed the curse into a blessing”
Many commentators ask why there was a hava-amina at all to listen to Bil’om? It should also be asked how could a curse be turned into a blessing, since Bil’om was prevented from expressing his wishes, there was no curse?
Perhaps when Bil’om said “מַה-טֹּבוּ אֹהָלֶיךָ, יַעֲקֹב – how good are thy tents, Jacob” he was already hinting Balak that if the sanctity of the Jewish home can be sullied, he could bring about a curse, as he wishes to. And that is actually what happened – Zimri brought the Midianite princess into his tent, defiling it. Hence the word “קֻּבָּה” here means Zimri’s defiled tent, of the same root as “קבה” – curse, which of course was done through the third meaning of that word.
The defiling of the Jewish home, unfortunately doesn’t require such a dramatic step – we shall be vigilant not to fall victim to our time’s pitfalls and curses.
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