Even the “Professionals” Agree

Article by Rabbi Mordechai Lipskier: Some Jews aren’t receptive to the Torah’s view unless it’s corroborated by secular wisdom. That’s why Bilam confirmed the benefit of not looking in other people’s windows – or social media posts.

By Rabbi Mordechai Lipskier

Rabbi Shimon Raichik, a”h, used to ask, why did Bilam get to give the prophecy of Moshiach’s coming? Shouldn’t such an important prophecy have been conveyed by a Jewish prophet?

Hashem knew that in the times right before Moshiach’s coming, there will unfortunately be Jews who won’t be receptive to the Torah’s view unless it’s corroborated by secular wisdom. For them, it’s not enough that Torah says something is good for our marriage, our education, or our well-being. They need to know that the “professionals” also agree. It’s for these Jews that Hashem made sure that the prophecy of Moshiach’s coming should be shared by a non-Jewish prophet.

Another one of Bilam’s sayings is, “Mah tovu oholecha Yaakov.” How goodly are your tents, O Jacob. Rashi explains that this refers to the fact that the entrances of their tents were not facing one another, to safeguard privacy and modesty.

Being sensitive to this type of modesty indeed begins as a Torah value but even a Bilam understands the benefit it will inevitably have on our life.

For example, consider the benefits to shalom bayis when we don’t expose ourselves on social media, nor do we snoop into other people’s windows. 

The Toras Chaim explains another benefit to the doors not facing one another. When people can’t see into each other’s homes, there’s less jealousy and less strife. Bilam understood that the Torah way of life is simply a good solution for inner peace and for harmony among neighbors. And harmony is the vessel for all blessings.

A woman once wrote a letter to the Rebbe expressing her distress that the Rebbe doesn’t approve of her wealthy lifestyle.

The Rebbe responded [1] with surprise. It’s widely known, the Rebbe clarified, that I subscribe to the idea that every Jew should live well, in the very literal sense. What I don’t approve of is living in superficial wealth, as in your case. You are not content with living well; you need the recognition from others that you are wealthy. And I wish for you, and every single Jew, to live in true wealth.

How much more content and happy would we and our families be if we weren’t window shopping in other people’s Instagram or Facebook postings?

The Torah way of life is best for us. And for those of us who need the approval of the professionals, we have that too!  

[1] Igros Kodesh Vol. 14 pg. 295.

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