See No Evil

Friday, 15 July, 2022 - 9:57 am

Literary legend Isaac Asimov related:

“My mother, who came from Russia, decided to go to night school and learn how to write English. One of the teachers finally asked her, ‘Pardon me, Mrs. Asimov, are you by any chance a relation of the brilliant Isaac Asimov?’”

“My mother, who was four feet, ten inches tall, drew herself up to her full height and said, proudly, ‘Yes. He is my dear son.’”

“‘Aha,’ said the teacher, ‘no wonder you’re such a good writer.’”

“‘I beg your pardon,' said my mother, freezingly. ‘No wonder he’s such a good writer.’”


We certainly inherit many wonderful traits from our parents. And, they invariably serve as the most profound educators we ever have.

But, are they justified in taking credit for our successes? Are we justified in thinking our children can do no wrong? Is “See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil” a virtue?


In this week’s parsha, Balak we read about the wicked prophet Bilaam and his efforts to curse the Jewish people. Ultimately, he is forced to bless the Jewish people. Some of the most famous and favorable blessings are showered upon the Jewish people by their nemesis Bilaam.

One of his statements is: “He does not look at evil in Jacob, and has seen no perversity in Israel.”  When Hashem views the Jewish people He sees no evil.

Flip the Torah a few pages forward or backward and you are certain to find instances where Hashem finds plenty of shortcomings among His people! So, what does it mean that G-d “sees no perversity in Israel”?


G-d knows that, in essence, His children are a part of Him. The truest identity that we have is that we are a part of Hashem. Our Divine Soul is always shining. The reason G-d does not look at the evil in Jacob is because He looks at the Jew as having already fulfilled his potential. Hashem doesn’t have His “head in the sand.” Rather, Hashem knows that our shortcomings are not our truest self. And, He sees us overcoming our animalistic inclinations. He sees our Divine soul maximizing its potential. At this level, indeed, you cannot see any evil.

This is the blessing that an anti-Semite offered the Jewish people. And, it is the least we can do to be a bit more G-d-like.

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