Whose Vision is Correct?

February 13, 2014

I have to agree with your desire that all of us Jews be more tolerant of each other’s beliefs (“Searching for Harmony,” Jan. 31). Which of us can say that we are the ones to correctly interpret each part of the Torah?!

This reminds me of a d’var Torah that I wrote many, many years ago. It treated Balaam and the talking donkey, who first swerved off the path and into the fields when it saw the path blocked by an angel with a drawn sword. The donkey then squeezed against the fence when it saw the angel standing in the passageway, partially blocking it. Finally the donkey laid down when it saw that the angel had totally blocked the passage.

Although Balaam was a prophet who received inspired communications from G-d, he could not see the angel at first. When a person truly tries to understand the messages from G-d, that person may only see what G-d reveals to him. But how can a person be sure that his or her vision is the only correct one? Maybe the various visions are all part of some greater truth? Maybe the version we see is only a partial view of the entire truth. So how can one say that the other person is wrong — or limited — in his interpretation?

Bernard Cataldo
Baltimore

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