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Issue 6 | Parshat Balak | The Secret to Co-Existence

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Can We Love Each Other Even if We Disagree? 

Perhaps the greatest curse and challenge of our times is divisiveness. Especially among Jews. Witness the current battles between different denominations, between the religious and the secular, the “dati’im” or “charedim” and the “chilonim” (as they are called in Israel). Is there any solution to resolve these schisms and achieve some harmony?

Is there a way for two people – or two communities – to be at peace even if they may disagree? Can they both voice their positions without it turning into war? Can we love each other even if we passionately disagree? Can you argue with someone without hating him? 

We live today in a divisive world in which individuals, communities and nations end up despising each other due to their differences. Why can’t we separate the two – the person and his opinion? 

The Baal Shem Tov, finds a fascinating solution to this dilemma in a most unlikely place: The way Balaam, the evil prophet and hater of Jews, looked at the Jewish people! 

“Balaam raised his eyes and saw Israel dwelling according to its tribes, and the spirit of G-d rested upon him.” Explains the Talmud, “what did Baalam see? He saw that their tent openings did not face each other.” What does this mean? And what powerful lesson does this teach us about unity and co-existence? 

Of all the blessings that the Jews receive in the Torah, the greatest ones originate from none other than Balaam – a prophet who was hired to curse the Jews! Instead of curses, Balaam ends up blessing them with unprecedented blessings. 

Balaam teaches us both the curse and the blessing: The curse of divisiveness and the blessing of unity. 

Is there a more important message than this today?

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