ז׳ בְּתָּמוּז תשע״א
7th of Tamuz, 5771
Sat, 9 July 2011
The Prince of Egypt / Movie clip
Sung by the late Israeli singer Ofra haza. Haza sang the song "Deliver Us" in 17 languages
(including Czech — "Tak vyveď nás", Dutch — "Verlos ons, Heer", English — "Deliver Us", Finnish — "Johdata", French — "Délivre nous", German — "Erlöse uns", Greek — "Eleftheri", Hebrew — "Hoshia Na", Hungarian — "Szabadíts", Italian — "Ascoltaci", Norwegian — "Befri Oss", Polish — "Uwolnij Nas", Portuguese — "Liberte Nos", Spanish — "Libranos", Swedish — "Befria Oss"; about half of these were sung phonetically).
Like Bilaam, we should open our eyes to seeing the problematic paths we take in life.
This week's parashah is mostly the story of Balak, the king of the nation Moav. He hires the prophet Balaam to curse the Israelites, whom he perceives as a threat. Balaam then discovers that the power of blessing and cursing is God's alone. On his way to curse Israel, his donkey stops, for an angel blocks the way, but Balaam can't perceive what his animal is doing. Finally, Balaam blesses Israel with a famous blessing that is now part of the daily morning service. At the end of the parashah, the Israelites get in trouble by worshipping a foreign deity.
Cursing and Blessing the Israelites
By Nancy Reuben
Miriam and Aaron die and Moses and the Israelites must fight against the Edomites, Canaanites, Emorites and Amorites to continue toward God’s Promised land. Each time God helps the children of Israel win. Now, Balak, the King of Moab, saw how the Hebrews had won these wars.
Haftarah for Balak
Haftarah for Balak
The haftarah selection is from Micah 5:6-6:8.
In this week's haftarah Micah gives a series of short prophecies directed at the Israelites in exile, whom he refers to as the "remnant of Jacob." Though the people may feel like droplets of dew, hopelessly spread out upon other nations, their renewal will come from God. Ultimately, they will rise like a lion and trample their foes. This transformation, from a tiny drop of water to the king of all animals, symbolizes the changes that will come to the people of Israel. They will go from being very weak to very
Moab Leads Israel into Sin (illustration from the 1728 Figures de la Bible)
Balak (בָּלָק — Hebrew for “Balak,” a name, the second word, and the first distinctive word, in the parshah) is the 40th weekly Torah portion (parshah) in the annual Jewish cycle of Torah reading and the seventh in the book of Numbers. It constitutes Numbers 22:2–25:9. Jews in the Diaspora generally read it in late June or July.
The lunisolar Hebrew calendar contains up to 55 weeks, the exact number varying among years. In most years (for example, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015 ), parshah Balak is read separately. In some years (for example, 2009, when the second day of Shavuot fell on a Sabbath in the Diaspora), parshah Balak is combined with the previous parshah, Chukat, to help achieve the appropriate number of weekly readings.
The evil prophet Balaam wanted to curse the people of Israel, but instead found himself blessing them, "How goodly are your tents, Jacob; your dwelling places, Israel" (Num. 24:5).
Is the repetition in Balaam's blessing only poetic? Or is there a deeper significance to these two forms of shelter, the ohel (tent) and the mishkan (dwelling place)?Continue
Together with Shema
In the parashah of Balak, we find prophetic verses of exquisite beauty, and an inspiring story of God's protection over the Jewish people. But to truly appreciate this Torah portion, one should ponder a remarkable teaching of the Sages.
Dreamt a disturbing dream, but can't remember it? The Talmud recommends reciting the following prayer while the kohanim bless the people:
"Master of the World! My dreams and I belong to You.... If the dreams are good — bolster them like the dreams of Joseph. And if they need to be remedied — fix them like the bitter waters that Moses sweetened... Just as You transformed the curses of wicked Balaam into blessings, so too, make all of my dreams be for the best." (Berachot 55)
The Weird Worship of Peor
After failing to curse the people of Israel, Balaam devised another plan to make trouble for the Jewish people. He advised using Moabite and Midianite women to entice the Israelite men into worshipping Baal Peor. How was this idol worshipped? The word Peor means to 'open up' or 'disclose.' According to the Talmud, the worshippers would bare their backsides and defecate in honor of the idol. The Talmud (Sanhedrin 64a) illustrates the repulsive nature of this particular idolatry with the following two stories:
Why You Should Always
Listen to a Talking Donkey
In the previous Parshah, we read about how when other nations attacked the Jews, they wereˀ badly defeated and their lands
were conquered? So in this week's Parshah we learn that Balak, the king of Moav, has seen what's happened to those other nations and he's terrified. But he knows that he if he tries to fight the Jews, he will lose. So he thinks of a better plan. He will hire a prophet to curse the Jews, and then he will able to be victorious over them.
When we dedicated that building, I was on the evening news with Brian Williams and he said to
me, “How, Joe, after so many years it was callzed the Sears Tower, how did you get them to change the name to Willis?” And I looked into the camera and I said, “I asked.” - Joe Plumeri, CEO Willis Group Holdings
A rabbi I know notes that very few portions in the Torah are named for people. Of those, only three are named for gentiles: Noah, Yisro and this week's episode, Balak.
Noah, we noted already, deserves this. Yisro as well, for all he did. But Balak?
An interesting view on Flotilla Anti-Zionist Deal!
When will European groups send flotillla
to help people of North Korea and Syria
Three ( 3 ) musketeers
Freedom House’s Freedom in the World survey showcases an alarming decline in freedom, democracy and respect for human rights around the world for a fifth consecutive year. Only 60% of the world’s 194 countries and 14 territories can be defined as democracies with respect for fundamental human rights and freedoms