In Parshat Balak, the king of Moav, Balak, called upon Bilam to curse the Jews. The first time that Balak sent messengers to Bilam to ask him to curse the Jews, Bilam spoke to Hashem who said that he can’t go with the Moabites because the Jews are blessed people. Despite that, Balak still sent other messengers. Bilam spoke to Hashem and got permission to go. The Ramban, Nachmanides, explained that he was able to go this time, because he had previously told the Moabites that he will go by what God says and say what God tells him to say. He had told them before that the Jewish people can’t be cursed and that it doesn’t matter what they offer him, but it will all be up to God.
Nevertheless, the Moabites took Bilam thinking that he would curse the Jews. They go to several places to do so and instead of cursing the Jews, Bilam blesses them. When the king of Moav, Balak, gets upset and says that he told him to curse the Jews, Bilam responds by saying that he had spoken to the messengers. He explained to the messengers that it is not the amount of money that he will get to curse the Jews that made him come, but God. He kept reiterating that he was going according to God and not Balak. The problem was that the Moabite messengers and Balak heard what Bilam said, but they didn’t listen.
In our day-to-day lives, we may be busy and have someone, a sibling, child or friend, talking to us, but are we paying attention and listening to what they are saying, or are we hearing what we want to hear? The story of Bilam and Balak teaches us that the things people say are valuable, and we need to pay attention and listen to what others say. Balak ended up getting the very opposite of what he wanted. If Balak had heard what Bilam said, the Jews wouldn’t have been blessed even more.
By Shira Sedek