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Posibly because when Rashi says 'wicked gentile' he isn't referring to the fact that Bilam himself was evil, but rather to the fact that most gentiles at that point were immoral, in which case one could argue that Bilam was no more evil than the rest of them. In a similar vein, you could say that Bilam, in order to have had prophecy in the first place, was ...


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See this short introduction (by R. Mordechai Katzenelnbogen) regarding the commentary of Rashi (page 6 on the site; page 10 of the actual book). He only quotes R. Yaakov Emden (as you did) and R. Tzvi Hirsch Chajes as arguing against the authenticity of the commentary to Avot. But he is certain that Rashi did indeed author a commentary to Avos and attributes ...



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