Is there any event in our lives that we wouldn’t share on social media? Is there something we saw that we wouldn’t immediately photograph and document?
In this week’s parshah, Bilaam gazes upon the tents of our forefathers and from his mouth a blessing bursts forth: “How goodly are your tents, O Jacob, your dwelling places, O Israel!” Rashi explains what made such a deep impression on Bilaam: “He saw that the tent entrances were not facing each other.” Each tent faced a different direction so that no one could see into the tent of anyone else.
Bilaam came from a culture without boundaries. Suddenly he saw a culture of privacy, gentleness, modesty, hallowed personal space for every family and every human being, a culture without concern for constant updates on the news in every person’s life.
Our commentators write that this culture is the foundation for building our character, our home, and our nation. Not everyone lives in the same tent. Everything does not belong to everyone.
Adhering to this principle is an enormous challenge today. There are so many buttons that say “publish” and “share.” How do we create a button that says “Don’t publish – this is ours alone”?
(translation by Yehoshua Siskin)