<i>Balak</I>: Believing is Seeing

Sight is not an objective sense given to all.

Aloh Naaleh,

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Arutz 7
This week's parasha, Balak, includes the fascinating story of Bil'am and his donkey on their journey to curse the Jewish people. Suddenly, the donkey stops in his tracks, unable to continue; whereas, Bil'am, in his rush to complete his mission, sees no reason for the sudden delay.

The obvious question presents itself. "How is it possible that the donkey sees that which Bilaam does not see?" Rashi explains: "God permitted an animal to see that which man is unable to see." Only eight verses later, we are told that "God gave sight to Bil'am" to see the reason for the road blockage.

It seems, then, that sight is not an objective sense given to all living beings equally. In the story of Hagar exiled from Avraham's home, she becomes thirsty and God opens her eyes so that she can see a well of water only a few feet away from her. An automobile accident witnessed by two people standing at the same location will be seen differently by each of the witnesses.

The subjective phenomena of sight is based on factors related to the intellectual and emotional background of the viewer. Evidence of this is found in the midrash describing the sight of the "cloud on the mountain" seen by Avraham and Yitzchak, but not by Eliezer or Yishmael. Their spiritual capacities were very different.

About two months ago, the Jewish people celebrated the 59th anniversary of the establishment of the State of Israel. The founding of the state opened the doors of the country to immigration for the first time in 2,000 years. Since then, the population of the state has grown to almost half of the world's Jewish population, a miracle in itself. There is, however, the other half of our people whose "subjective vision" is still blurred by all kinds of issues, blinding them from "seeing" the "cloud on the mountain," God's gift to our generation - the possibility of returning to our homeland.

May they soon see the beacon of the Light of Zion, guiding their way to the birthplace and future of our People.
Rabbi Yaakov Zev writes from Jerusalem.

The foregoing commentary was distributed by the Aloh Naaleh organization.