Had an interesting drosha on Balak this morning. the Rav spoke about the beginning of this Parsha Balak which begins with the Hebrew Veyera from the beginning sentence of the parsha 'and saw Balak son of Tzzipor everything that Israel had done to the Amorites' and the parsha Yithro veishma'a 'and heard Yithro, priest of Midan and Moshe's father in law etc etc... he then went on to expound on the difference in seeing something and in actually hearing something.
This week's parsha was all about the power of the spoken word and the importance of listening.
You can see something and make assumptions about a situation or situations and be gravely mistaken by jumping to conclusions that are grossly in error. You may see and even hear a cross word pass between a husband and wife or two friends or two siblings and conclude that they are on the verge of a divorce or the breaking up of a friendship or that an acrimonious relationship exists between two siblings. However you may fail to understand the situation and what has gone on before and you may underestimate the relationship and the reasons for the snappy words or not.
By the same token, you may see a 'supposed loving relationship' that has great tensions involved that is not healthy. The movie star world and Hollywood specialises in these sorts of PR relationships all the time. Because the whole basis on which the movie relationships are based is very fake and actors are involved who may have blurred the lines between what is real and what is acting, these relationships come under enormous pressure and break up because two people are constantly putting on an act for the rest of the world. The rav this morning used the case of Israel being seen in a negative light in the world media and people do not listen or unaware of what has gone before. Israel is seen fighting back. Israel is depicted as a bully. It is all about a series of images being created to build a story. We also are story tellers and builders in our own way and we need often to understand that our truths can be subjective and tainted by what we want it to be. That is OK so long as it is based in reality. We all need a touch of fantasy in our lives. A bit of romance and hope for the future, but we should not be unrealistically caught up in a future that is unobtainable. By the same token we need goals in our lives too. We need to listen to the inner self and soul and not search for external satisfactions, but be content in who we are and what we are doing. We need to hear and touch the inner core of morality that all of us should have. The Benai Noah laws as well as Jewish law focuses on being true to oneself and G-D not just the external appearances of morality. I get a bit of hate mail occasionally and I wonder why. I realised later that it is often when you confront an individual or group with your ideas or beliefs, they react and Israel often does by her humanitarian attitudes and actions put to shame larger and wealthier countries. For example, Aza in Israel has a million people and many of these people live in impoverished conditions. Without sanitation, sewerage, running water and other modern things we take for granted. Yet their Arab brothers and cousins are building hotels in Dubai and UAE with gold bath taps.
They actually have a seven star hotel. To me that is the extreme in extravagance and while it may look impressive to an outsider it is really very empty. While there are people still living in refugee camps in both Lebanon and Aza maybe they should consider a less opulent life style. Israel has settled an amazing number of people since 1948 within its borders. People who came to its shores with nothing now own their own houses and work and live well. That does not mean that there are no poor people in Israel. There are. But there is a very human element to Israel. They care about their people. Israel cares about each Jew and each Israeli and they are concerned or should be about each and every individual with in her borders.
When you see these pictures you realise how the misery and poverty of the Palestinians are being used to exploit them and conduct a propaganda war against the Israelis.
Bil'am is a person given great powers and opportunities which he could have used for positive means. He knew the moment when Hashem gets angry and if he was able to have cursed Benai Israel at that moment, his curse would have been fairly effective. But, thankfully G-D did not get angry. However some of the weaknesses of Bil'am was his corrupt sexual behaviour and his cruelty. Very similar to many of the Saudi princes. He used his donkey as a beast of burden and to 'keep him warm at nights'. Quite disgusting when you think about it. I was reminded of the story of a Filipino girl whose sister worked for a Saudi family. She was a married woman of twenty six or seven when she got a visa to work there for a year. During that year, she was raped repeatedly by the teenage sons of the family she worked for. She worked in one house and the boys there and their half siblings would come over and take turns in using her during the night and then she would be expected to do her cleaning and other work around the house. When she complained to the senior wife, the answer was simply ' You have two children and it is not as if you are a virgin. They are good clean Muslim boys. You should be happy that are giving you pleasure.' Her protests that she was married fell on deaf ears because simply she being a non Muslim meant that she was little better than a beast of burden to them. She was an animal without real feelings or cares for them.
Islam is presented as the religion of peace. Is it really and peace for whom? Certainly not for Israel and certainly not for non Muslims.
There is a great difference is between what you see and what you hear. Think about it carefully and where is the truth and the subtext?