Seeing the Larger Picture by Rabbi Benny Berlin

In this week’s Parasha (Balak), we read about Balak sending Bilaam to curse the Jews. Initially, Bilaam had rejected the offer from Balak. However, Bilaam decided to journey forth after further encouragement from Balak’s servants. Bilaam saddled his donkey and began his trip.

The Torah then describes three instances in which Bilaam’s donkey “misbehaved.” His donkey turned away from the road and into a field, pressed itself and subsequently Bilaam’s leg against the wall and lastly crouched beneath Bilaam. Bilaam was furious with the donkey’s behavior. What Bilaam did not realize however, was that his donkey was seeing a sword wielding angel of Hashem. “Then Hashem uncovered Bilaam’s eyes and he saw the angel of Hashem standing on the road with his sword drawn in his hand. He bowed his head and prostrated himself on his face.” (22:31)

Perhaps, a lesson we can take from here is that we as humans are simply not privy to always seeing the larger picture. We would often like to think we are aware of the whole picture but in an honest moment will recognize that we don’t. Bilaam thought his donkey was misbehaving and from his lens that made sense. However, when the sword wielding angel is revealed to Bilaam he then understands the actions of his donkey.

Recognizing that we too are limited as to what we see and don’t see is critical in our life. Having emunah in Hashem allows us to go through frustrating periods of our lives with a sense of faith in knowing there is a larger picture that we will soon be able to see.