On my infrequent walks with my wife we enjoy sticky-beaking at the building styles and architecture of the houses we pass. Just do us one favor; please close your blinds. I don't care about the décor of your kitchen, I don't want to know if you're fighting with your partner, and, if you insist on plate-glass windows, invest in a hedge.

We live in an age of revelation. Gossip mags compete for saucy scoops, underwear is overwear and privacy is passé. When popular culture reeks from a "if you've got it, flaunt it" mentality, can I really expect people to have enough sensitivity to keep their family lives private?

The Moral High Ground

This week we read about the evil prophet Bilaam, the mouth from the South, who was employed to curse the Jews.

Contrary to the rhymes of your youth, words as a weapon hurt worse than sticks and stones. If speaking well of others can have positive ramifications, then ascribing evil intent, or cursing others, must have untoward negative consequences. Bilaam was the world expert in inciting G‑d's displeasure by finding and describing the weak chink in his victim's spiritual armor and viciously exploiting it.

Bilaam climbed a mountain lookout and gazed down at the Jews camped unsuspectingly below him. He was primed for his task and ready to unload a bucketful of vituperation….

How goodly are your tents (sons of) Jacob, your dwelling places, Israel (Numbers 24:5).

Bilaam couldn't do it. Overwhelmed by the spectacle of respectability arrayed before him, he could only praise the virtues of this People.

Hundreds of thousands of tents set up in orderly rows, separated into tribal groups, in a wide circle surrounding the Mishkan (Tabernacle).

It was the orientation of all the tents that excited Bilaam's admiration. No two tents had front entrance flaps facing each other. The prevailing cultural sensitivity dictated that each family's privacy was inviolate, leaving everyone minding their own business.

Eye In The Sky

The average punter makes sure that his house is well built; with firm foundations and space to breathe. Check out the same guy's campsite while holidaying and it's a radically different set-up. Can you blame him? Home is for keeps, while a caravan park is just for the night.

The Jews were camping, in tents, in the desert, and yet the same standards of modesty and sensitivity prevailed!

It is so tempting sometimes, when just passing through, to drop our standards and live life loosely. Sure, you think, toss the can out the car window, let it all hang out in the back-yard, nobody's looking, no one will know.

The Jews in the desert could never have dreamed that there was an enemy overhead scoping their every move. They acted decently and modestly not because they worried about being watched but because that was who they were. When next tempted to cut a corner on the highway of life, hold back this once; not because someone may catch you, but because it is the right thing to do.