An important part of Yiddishkeit, especially for someone in a leadership position, is maintaining one’s objectivity and perspective. In this week’s Parsha we have an example of when this does not happen.
In Bilam’s second prophesy 23:19, he criticizes Balak “Hashem is not a man who changes his mind.” Rashi explains his intention is to proclaim that Balak will be unsuccessful annihilating the Jewish People in the desert since Hashem committed to bring them into Eretz Yisroel.
However, if we refer to the beginning of the Parsha, Balak never requested the destruction of Bnei Yisroel and did not request assistance in preventing them from arriving in the Promised Land. Rather, in 22:6 Balak implored that Bilam help him “reduce” the Jewish People and repulse them from entering his territory of Moav. It was Bilam when explaining to Hashem the presence of Balak’s messengers from Moav in 22:11, as Rashi there explains, who miss-portrayed Balak’s request out of his intense hate towards Bnei Yisroel.
Interestingly, by the later quote he had already internalized the thoughts he projected onto Balak to the point where he would criticize Balak for essentially his own feelings.
May we all maintain the clarity and objectivity necessary to develop into future leaders of Klal Yisroel, and not stumble on the pitfalls of assuming that others mean what we want to hear.