In our Torah portion this week, the Moabite King Balak hires Balaam to curse the Israelites. Balaam had a reputation for being a wise prophet. He was known as a man of vision who could see things that others could not. But on route to curse the Israelites, Balaam's donkey gave him some trouble. Ironically, the donkey could see something that Balaam could not; an angel of death blocking their path. Three times the donkey tried to warn Balaam by veering off the path, and three times Balaam beat the donkey for changing directions. Balaam was unwilling to listen, until the donkey miraculously spoke. Only then were his "eyes opened" to the perils that were in front of them.
Like Balaam, at times it can be easy to be blinded by our vision. We may find ourselves working on a task or on a mission of sorts, closed off to new ideas or suggestions that can take us in a different direction. By doing so, we may fail to see the big picture and run into obstacles that otherwise could have been avoided.
I think that one of the many things our
parashah teaches us is that just because we have vision, doesn't mean that we can see the whole picture. Whether it's a revelation from God or simply a different perspective or opinion, some of the best advice can come from some of the most unlikely and unusual places.
Which is why it is my hope and prayer for all of us this Shabbat and beyond, that we may have the strength, wisdom and courage to be open minded to whatever it is that is being suggested to us, and that we keep our and eyes and ears open, no matter where the message may be coming from.
Rabbi Joshua Dorsch