Thursday, July 3, 2014

Balak 5774

G-d refuses to let me go with you.” (Bamidbar/Numbers 22:13)

In this week’s Torah portion, the Moavite King Balak asks a prophet named Bilaam to go with him and curse the Jewish people. Bilaam asks G-d for permission and G-d tells him not to bother because the Jews are blessed. Instead of admitting his inability to curse the Jews, Bilaam just tells Balak that G-d refused to let him go.

What can we learn from the way Bilaam refused Balak’s request?

G-d gives all of us strengths, talents and skills that come easily to us. He also gives us weaknesses and areas in which we are not skilled and would have to work very hard to improve. G-d gave Bilaam the ability to prophesize and to give blessings and curses. Bilaam did not want to admit that he lacked this skill when it came to the Jews. Perhaps he had low self-esteem and felt that acknowledging a lack of ability would reflect poorly on him. Perhaps he was too proud to admit that he could not do what the king requested.

Writes Adam Lieberman on “Those who can readily and easily admit that they aren’t good at something aren’t showing weakness or incompetence. Rather, it [the admission] demonstrates honesty, strength and self-confidence. Others will look at this person and see someone who is comfortable with the strengths and talents that they do have and need not proclaim to all they meet that they’re good at everything.”

As parents, we are often called upon to do things that we are not that skilled at or even not capable of doing. If we are able to admit that we are not the right person for the job, our esteem will actually rise in the eyes of those seeking our help. It will show that we are confident enough to admit our weaknesses. People will know that when we do agree to take on a task, we will carry it out successfully and to our fullest ability.   

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