Simcha's Torah Stories - Balak
Avi, fancy meeting you here. I thought that I was the only one who knew this shortcut home from school.
Not at all Chaim. I have been going this way for a long time. I like walking past these new homes. Look at that one, the front door is wide open. Wow, you can see straight into the house. Hmmm. That is really interesting. It looks like they are doing some remodeling in there.
Avi, should you be looking into someone's front door?
Well, they left it wide open. They must know that people will look in.
I see that they have left it open. But I still do not think that we should look in. After all, looking into someone's home is an invasion of privacy. People do things inside of their homes that they do not want others to see.
I guess you're right Chaim. But why do they build their home in such a way that you can see right into the front door from the street?
That's a good question Avi. The homes should be built to provide more privacy. Just as it was in the desert.
The desert? Who has a private home in the desert?
The Jewish people's homes were very private during their wanderings in the desert over three thousand years ago.
Didn't they live in tents?
They surely did.
Tents are not very private.
Usually not, Avi. However, they were very careful to pitch their tents in such a way that no two openings faced each other.
That is not so easy to do. How do you know that Chaim?
It is in this week's parsha Avi. Bilaam HaRasha, the wicked Bilaam wanted to curse the Jewish people. G-d would not allow him to curse us. He only let him bless us. He went to the top of a mountain and looked down on the Jewish encampment. He said, "How good are your tents, Jacob, your dwellings, Israel" (Bamidbar 24:5). Rashi comments that Bilaam saw that the openings of their tents were not facing each other. This was a true blessing, complimenting the tznius (dignity) of the Jewish people. They respected each other's privacy. They would not look into each other's homes.
I see what you mean, Chaim. Looking into someone's house is really prying into their business. We have no right to do that. It shows a lack of self respect and respect for the other person.
Exactly Avi. One of the trademarks of the Jewish people has always been our tznius. We express it in many ways. Our clothing, manner of speech, even the way we walk, all reflect our dignity.
Chaim, I am so proud to be a member of this people. We have maintained our dignity through the many struggles of our three thousand years of history. I have to make my effort to carry on the tradition. I will try never to look into someone's home again. I won't even think of asking them a personal question.
Avi, I am going to stand up the next time that you walk into the room.
Because I am in the company of a visiting dignitary.
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