Torah.org Home Subscribe Services Support Us
 
Print Version

Email this article to a friend

Parshas Balak

Hear What You Want

By Rabbi Moshe Peretz Gilden

As the Jews camped in the desert near the border of Moav a sinister plan was unfolding. Balak, King of Moav, sent messengers to Balaam asking him to curse the Jewish people, enabling him to then defeat them. Balaam received a command from G-d in a dream that he should not go with these people. When they arrived, Balaam said "G-d refused to let me go with you" (Numbers 22:13). Rashi comments that he was really sending a subtle message that G- d said, "I cannot go with you, but I may go with dignitaries of greater stature than you."

How could it be that G-d explicitly said not to go and yet he went? Rabbi Chaim Shmulevitz (1) observes that although Balaam was a prophet, he interpreted the prophecy to fit his own designs. The root cause of error is that people ultimately hear what they want to hear.

The Talmud (Gittin 45a) relates a time that Rav Ilish was taken captive. One day a man who knew the language of birds sat next to him. A raven came and called to Rav Ilish who asked the man, "What is the bird saying?" The man answered, "Ilish run, Ilish run!" Rav Ilish said, "Ravens lie so I will not rely on him." Meanwhile, a dove came and called out. Rav Ilish again asked the man, "What is the bird saying?" The man answered, "Ilish run, Ilish run!" Rav Ilish knew that the dove would not lie and so he escaped successfully.

Just as Rav Ilish did not want to trust the raven, why would he trust this stranger and risk his life by attempting to escape? Did he not need to be concerned that this stranger was misinterpreting, or even lying about, the bird's message? We may conclude that Rav Ilish knew bird language himself. Nevertheless, he consulted with the stranger to make sure that he heard correctly. He was afraid that perhaps he was hearing what he wanted to hear.

Throughout our lives we receive many messages that can help us improve. They may come from parents, teachers, mentors, and even from the environment in which we live. Most essential is to strip ourselves of our own personal agendas, so that we hear what they say, not what we want them to have said.

Have a Good Shabbos!

This issue of Kol HaKollel is dedicated in memory of Rebbetzin Devorah Rennert, Devorah Rivkah bas Shlomo haLevi

(1) Rosh Yeshiva/Dean of the Mir Yeshiva, who led his students from the ashes of the European Holocaust to the glory of Jerusalem


Text Copyright © 2005 by Rabbi Moshe Peretz Gilden and Torah.org.

Kol HaKollel is a publication of The Milwaukee Kollel Center for Jewish Studies · 5007 West Keefe Avenue · Milwaukee, Wisconsin · 414-447-7999


 






ARTICLES ON MASEI AND THE THREE WEEKS:

View Complete List

Following Instructions!
Rabbi Label Lam - 5771

A Day of Rebuilding
Rabbi Label Lam - 5761

Rebuilding the Temple
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5768

Looking for a Chavrusah?

Creatures of Our Environment
Rabbi Yaakov Menken - 5763

Kohein-in-Waiting
Rabbi Mordechai Kamenetzky - 5758

A Question of Faith
Rabbi Aron Tendler - 5764

ArtScroll

Not Very Promising
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5759

Journey from Egypt to the World-to-Come
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5761

In a Month We Call -“Av”
Rabbi Label Lam - 5765

> Final Destination
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5770

Mourning on the 9th of Av: The Reasons
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5757

Seeing Punishment as Blessing
Rabbi Yosef Kalatzky - 5765

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

With All Due Respect
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann - 5762

Harnessing Powers
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5761

The Price Of Choice
Rabbi Aron Tendler - 5761

Passion for Kavod
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5756



Project Genesis

Torah.org Home


Torah Portion

Jewish Law

Ethics

Texts

Learn the Basics

Seasons

Features

TORAHAUDIO

Ask The Rabbi

Knowledge Base




Help

About Us

Contact Us



Free Book on Geulah!




Torah.org Home
Torah.org HomeCapalon.com Copyright Information