Devarim – Human Sensitivity to Authenticity

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A person’s sensitivity to the real truth is acute, and there is an apparent proof to this from a Medrish Rabba (1:4) in this week’s Torah portion of Devarim. The Book of Devarim begins with Moshe Rabbeinu rebuking the Jewish nation, climaxing with the curses in the portion of Ki Savo.

The medrish states, “Rebbe Acha the son of Rebbe Chanina said that Bilaam should have said the rebuke (the curses mentioned in parshas Ki Savo, according to the Maharz”u) and the blessings (bilaam said) should have come from the mouth of Moshe. However, if Bilaam would have rebuked them, the Jews would have just said an enemy rebuked us. And if Moshe would have given the Jews the blessings, then the nations of the world would have said their loved one blessed them. Therefore, Hashem said let Moshe who loves them rebuke them and Bilaam who hates them bless them so that it is clear that the rebuke and blessings are meant for the Jews.” (Click here fore Hebrew text.)

The Maharz”u explains that if the Jews would have heard the curses from the mouth of Bilaam, they would have said this is what he desires – but that is not really the truth. The nations of the world would have said that because Moshe, their loved one, desires to bless them, but what he said is not really true; therefore Moshe began to rebuke them as it says ‘These are the words etc.’

It is apparent from this medrish and Maharz”u that Bilaam should have been successful at cursing and rebuking the Jews, as he originally planned on doing. They would have been the same curses and rebuke as written in the Torah, but if he would have done that, they would not have accepted it as truth and would have thought it was just what he felt in his heart.

But why would they not accept the rebuke? First off, there is a medrish a few paragraphs later (1:9) which proves that if the Jews accept rebuke Hashem must then bless them. If that is the case, assuming they know this, as apparent from that medrish, then why would they not accept Bilaam’s rebuke, as it would all be for the good in the end? Surely if they would focus on what Bilaam would have said they might have even realized it would have been the truth, Divinely inspired by Hashem, since in fact the curses and rebuke did come from the Truthful Torah. So why would they have not accepted it, if it would have come from the mouth of Bilaam?

 It must be that even though the reality would have been that Bilaam would have been saying the truth, and accepting the rebuke and curses upon themselves if they would do wrong would have been in their best interest because it would have guaranteed blessing from Hashem, still in all, if there is some excuse to rely on to not accept it as truth, then they would have denied its authenticity.

People are looking for authenticity. They want to hear things in a vacuum of truth without any possible biases that might overshadow the truth, therefore it is hard to accept even what is really the truth from someone whom there is reason to believe might be making something up.

May we see the Final Redemption speedily in our days, and no need for a  fast.