Before the plague of ברד arrived, anyone who “feared the word of Hashem” brought all his cattle and property into his home. Only “the one who did not fear the word of Hashem” did not protect his cattle. Who was that? The Medrash identifies him as Bilaam the rosho.
After seeing Moshe’s predictions come true in the first six plagues, how could Bilaam not fear Hashem and take any precautions? Bilaam’s actions – or lack thereof – reveal his essence. The Torah describes him as אשר לא שם לבו, literally meaning that he didn’t pay attention. He didn’t stop to think or consider.
The Chofetz Chaim points out that from the beginning of Parshas Balak until Bilaam’s departure, there is not a single pause in the Chumash, indicating, once again, that Bilaam never paused to think.
It’s easy for us to say, “How foolish Bilaam was!” But let’s take a look at ourselves. Do we regularly take the time to pause? We’re always running, always moving on to the next thing. I used to use the example of “minute rice” to illustrate this concept – but nowadays we need to talk about nanoseconds.
This phenomenon affects everything we do, including how we make brochos, how we daven, and even how we interact with our children. Do we need to answer our phones immediately when it rings or pings? I have a chover who embellished the word “positive” to mean “pausitive.” If we take the opportunity to pause, we can see the positive. If we take time to pause, we can make the right chinuch decisions. So let’s resolve to pause often, transforming our lives and our relationships.
Rabbi Gidon Goldberg
Head of School