Beauty Lies in the Details

June 23, 2018 at 2:12 AM , , ,

“…How beautiful are your tents, Yaakov!…” – Bamidbar 24:3

מַה טֹּבוּ אֹהָלֶיךָ יַעֲקֹב – במדבר כד, ג

What was the beauty that Bilaam saw in Bnei Yisrael’s tents?

The Talmud (Bava Basra 60a) explains that Bilaam observed that Bnei Yisrael arranged their tents in such a manner that the tents’ entrances did not exactly face one another. This practice reflected their sense of privacy and modesty; they did not peer into each other’s tents.

Yaakov tents

Recognizing Bnei Yisrael’s modest conduct and the purity that it engendered, says the Talmud, Bilaam exclaimed, “These people are worthy that the Divine presence should rest upon them!” As Rashi (on Bamidbar 24:2) explains, this caused him to reconsider his plans to curse them, and he blessed them instead.

Understandably, the Torah’s ethic of tznius, not exposing those aspects of life intended to be private, involves much more than not peering into another person’s tent. Yet the Torah tells us that Bilaam reconsidered his curses upon noticing this seemingly minor detail about the Jewish people’s conduct. This teaches us that adherence to the details of tznius—and not sufficing with the general rules alone—has the power to transform even the worst of curses to blessings!

In addition, Bilaam’s blessings came about through Bnei Yisrael’s observance of tznius even when they were in a temporary setting. As Bilaam said, “How beautiful are your tents!” From here we see that observance of the Torah’s standards of tznius not only when we are in our regular environments, but also when we are in “tents”—in a temporary and short-term setting, is our most beautiful feature and our greatest source of blessing.

—Likutei Sichos vol. 13, pp. 83-84


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