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    All by myself – Balak

    Bilam HaNavi, Balaam the Prophet, is central to the events related in this week’s sidra.

    One of the most fascinating aspects of the story is his going off to be alone, vayelech shefi. His intention was presumably to think things out clearly without distraction or distress.

    Targum Onkelos says that nobody was with him; Rashi says he was alone with the silence. The experts on Biblical language think that shefi means “to a bare height”.

    Somehow there seems to be a contradiction with the early chapters of B’reshit which tell us, “It is not good for a person to be alone”. In B’reshit this observation leads us to the creation of Eve as a partner for Adam.

    We have to conclude that there are several kinds of aloneness: involuntary aloneness seems to be what is described as “not good”, but voluntary aloneness, which is what Bilam chose, is valuable for a person who needs to escape from noise and bustle in order to ponder and plan.

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