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Thought for the Day: Mah Bein Rasha la'Tzadik? Rasha is Always Right; Tzadik is Always Wrong

The world says a stopped clock is right twice a day.  That's not true, of course.  It's simply that twice a day that time on the clock is no different than the actual time.  A running clock, on the other hand, is nearly always wrong.  Any clock runs slightly fast or slow or uneven; even the most advanced atomic clock will lose or gain as much as a few nanoseconds per century.

Bilaam was riding along on his donkey, his favorite donkey, who inexplicably and suddenly pushed Bilaam's foot into a wall (bamidbar, 22:24-...).  Rashi, right on the spot, tells us: generic walls (geder) are made of stone.  Umm... ok... and therefore?  But Rashi is not finished.  Whew!  Rashi adds a proof text from Mishlei.  Oh, well, then; that clears things up. (Do you detect the faint hint of sarcasm?)  A few p'sukim later the  angel heading Bilaam off at the pass tell him to proceed to his destination (and, as it turns out, destiny).  Rashi now tells us that "from hear Chazal demonstrate that a person is lead along the path he desires".  Awesome.

What's going on here?  As it turns out, very big things are going on here.  Bilaam has been finding all sorts of excuses to proceed on a mission that is very, very obviously not what HaShem wants.  Somehow Bilaam always finds a way to warp the d'var HaShem to be telling him to proceed.  Now his donkey pushes him against a wall; a wall that is restricting his travel to a very narrow path.  A wall made of stones, because that's the usual building  material for walls (g'darim).

Now look at Targum Yonasan; this wall is not a random wall that Bilaam just happened into.  This is the wall built by Lavan and Yaakov as the symbol of their treaty.  Gilad -- the testimony wall; aka y'gar sahadusa; the only aramaic words in Chumash.  To be sure we all know that this wall was very well know to Lavan and his descendants.  Bilaam was not only a descendant of Lavan, but actually a gilgul.  So even though nothing else is getting through... certainly this message should get through to Bilaam.  Ah!  Bilaam feels a recognition of the wall, then tells himself, "Wait!  Most walls are made of stone.  Who says this is that wall?"  Perfect; Bilaam is on his way; the way he wants to go even though all evidence is to the contrary.

That's the great thing about being a Rasha; you can always find some way to justify your actions.  That's all the discomfort of being a Tzadik; you always see you are not yet perfect.  So this world and the next are nothing but frustration for the Rasha.  This world and the next are nothing but growth for the Tzadik.

You get what you pay for.

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