A venerable rabbi was teaching a class. An elderly man whom he did not know sat in the back quietly. In the middle of his teaching, one of his students who had never spoken up before contradicted the rabbi’s teaching in front of everyone. The rabbi listened patiently and nodded his approval that perhaps this was a correct interpretation. After class, one of his more learned students expressed astonishment that the rabbi allowed himself to be embarrassed by this obviously flawed argument in front of the entire class. To which the rabbi responded, “Did you notice the elderly gentleman in the back of the room?” The student nodded in affirmation. “Isn’t it a bit strange that in all this time your fellow student chose this moment to speak up when he has never said a word in class before?” Again, the young man nodded. “Perhaps these two are related,” said the rabbi. “Possibly our young man wants to be engaged to this man’s daughter, and the father came to determine if the student was worthy of his daughter’s hand. His speaking to me in such a manner was to provide some notion that this man would find admirable in a son-in-law.” In fact, an engagement was announced the following week.
This week, a donkey knocks Balaam off his feet in an attempt to get him to see something that was right in front of him! Sometimes it takes reality to kick us up against a wall and for us to feel harmed before we put two and two together.
Our challenge, perhaps, is to pay closer attention all the time. Then perhaps we will not be so injured when reality strikes us!