Dvar Torah by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin
The Torah states: Bilaam tells the messengers from Balak, “G-d refuses to let me go with you” implying that he could only accompany representatives of a higher social status. How is it possible that Bilaam misunderstood the Almighty’s message to refer to the honour due someone of his own “distinguished” status, rather than the plain meaning of the words?
From here we see the power of bias to blind a person. Bilaam’s own arrogance led him to fool himself about what he thought were the Almighty’s intentions. It is clear to any unbiased person that the Almighty did not want Bilaam to curse the Jewish people. However, a person usually hears just what he wants to hear.
Each of us must realize that we too have biases and selective hearing. By being aware of our biases, hopefully we can avoid making embarrassing and costly mistakes. By discussing with a friend, we can further protect ourselves from our biases.