Over the course of the past decades, our national conversations around politics have become toxic. We cannot discuss anything of significance without becoming crippled by hostility and frustration. In our hyper-polarized society, we need to find a way to be civil and respectful with those who may not share our opinions.
In our Torah portion this week, we have a model for such restraint.
In this week’s portion, a non-Jewish prophet named Balaam is hired by the King of the Moabites to curse the Israelites. In his heart, Balaam knows that placing a curse on the Israelites is wrong. So Balaam challenges King Balak with the following question, “How can I curse those whom God has not cursed?”
Perhaps this should be a mantra for all Americans in the coming months. As we gear up for another election cycle, it is inevitable that we will find ourselves in conversations which will turn political without notice, and more often than not our political arguments are driven by emotions rather than reason.
Whatever the case may be, we need to find ways to remain civil. We need to remind ourselves that everyone is entitled to an opinion. We need to take our cue from Balaam in our Torah portion by watching what we say and reminding ourselves that God is the ultimate judge of truth.