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Parshat Balak                                                           July 20, 2019  17 Tammuz, 5779
                                         Rabbi Sacks on Balak & Laws for The Three Weeks
                     TORAH
              ARTSCROLL  856           The year is 1933. Two Jews   that struck the people (Num. 25,   (8:23) foresees a day when
                  HERTZ   669          are sitting in a Viennese   31:16). Bilaam is numbered by the  “ten people from all languages
                                       coffee house, reading the
                                                               rabbis as one of only four non-  and nations will take firm hold
                                       news. One is reading the
                                                                                           of one Jew by the hem of his
                                                               royals mentioned in the Tanach
                  HAFTORAH             local Jewish paper, the other  who are denied a share in the   robe and say, ‘Let us go with
             ARTSCROLL  1189           the notoriously antisemitic   World to Come (Sanhedrin 90a).   you, because we have heard
                  HERTZ  682           publication Der Stürmer.   Why then did God choose that   that God is with you.’” There is
                                       “How can you possibly read   Israel be blessed by Bilaam?   nothing fated, predestined,
                                       that revolting rubbish?” says  Surely there is a principle   about antisemitism. What then
                                       the first. The second smiles.  Megalgelim zechut al yedei zakai:
                 Bar Mitzvah                                                               do Bilaam’s words mean? “It is
                                       “What does your paper say?  “Good things come about through
                                                                                           a nation dwelling alone, not
                       of              Let me tell you: ‘The Jews   good people” (Tosefta Yoma 4:12).  reckoned among the nations.”
                Michael Magid          are assimilating.’ ‘The Jews   Why did this good thing come   Ibn Ezra says they mean that
                                       are arguing.’ ‘The Jews are   about through a bad man? The   unlike all other nations, Jews,
                     Times             disappearing.’ Now let me   answer lies in the principle stated   even when a minority in a non-
                                       tell you what my paper   in Proverbs (27:2): “Let someone   Jewish culture, will not
           Mincha               7:00 pm   says: ‘The Jews control the   else praise you, and not your own   assimilate. Ramban says that
                                       banks.’ ‘The Jews control the  mouth; an outsider, and not your   their culture and  creed will
           Candle Lighting      8:04 pm   media.’ ‘The Jews control   own lips.” Tanach is perhaps the   remain pure, not a
           Hashkama             8:00 am   Austria.’ ‘The Jews control   least self-congratulatory national   cosmopolitan mix of multiple
                                       the world.’ My friend, if you   literature in history. Jews chose to  traditions and nationalities. The
           Parsha Shiur         8:30 am   want good news about the   record for history their faults, not   Netziv gives the sharp
           Main                 9:00 am   Jews, always read the   their virtues. Hence it was   interpretation, clearly directed
                                       antisemites.” An old and   important that their praise come   against the Jews of his time,
           Beit Midrash         9:15 am   bitter joke. Yet it has a point  from an outsider, and one not   that “If Jews live distinctive and
                                       and a history and it begins   known to like them. Moses   apart from others they will
           Gemara Shiur         6:30 pm   with this week’s parsha.   rebuked the people. Bilaam, the   dwell safely, but if they seek to
           Mincha               7:30 pm   Some of the most beautiful   outsider, praised them.    emulate ‘the nations’ they ‘will
                                       things ever said about the                          not be reckoned’ as anything
           Shabbat Ends         9:11 pm   Jewish people were said by   That said, however, what is the   special at all.”
           Sun. July 21        Shacharit   Bilaam: “Who can count the   meaning of one of the most   There is, however, another
                                                               famous descriptions ever given of
           Fast of the      7:30/8:30 am   dust of Jacob… May my final   the people Israel: “It is a nation   possibility, hinted at by another
           17th of Tammuz                end be like theirs!... How   dwelling alone, not reckoned   noted antisemite, G. K.
                                       beautiful are your tents,
                                Mincha                         among the nations.”? (Num. 23:9)  Chesterton, who famously
                                       Jacob, your dwelling places,
           Begins 4:29 am       7:50 pm                        I have argued against the   wrote of America that it was “a
           Ends  9:01 pm               Israel! …A star will come out
                                       of Jacob; a scepter will rise   interpretation that has become   nation with the soul of a
           Mon. & Thurs.     6:35/7:45 am   out of Israel.”    popular in modern times, namely   church” and “the only nation in
           Tues., Wed. & Fri.                 6:45/7:45 am     that it is Israel’s destiny to be   the world founded on a creed.”
                                       Bilaam was no friend of the   isolated, friendless, hated,   That is, in fact, precisely what
           Mincha               8:00 pm   Jews. Having failed to curse   abandoned and alone, as if   made Israel different – and
                                       them, he eventually devised  antisemitism were somehow   America’s political culture, as
                   Latest Times for
                Shema/Shemoneh Esrei   a plan that worked. He   written into the script of history. It  historian Perry Miller and
                                       suggested that Moabite   isn’t. None of the prophets said so.  sociologist Robert Bellah
           July 20          9:20/10:34 am   women seduce Israelite men  To the contrary, they believed that  pointed out, is deeply rooted in
                                       and then invite them to take  the nations of the world would   the idea of biblical Israel and
           July 27          9:23/10:36 am   part in their idolatrous   eventually recognize Israel’s God   the concept of covenant.
                                       worship. 24,000 people died  and come to worship Him in the
                    Next Shabbat                                                           Ancient Israel was indeed
                      Pinchas          in the subsequent plague   Temple in Jerusalem. Zechariah   founded on a creed, and was,
           Mincha               7:00 pm      Kiddush is sponsored by Maureen & Barry Magid
           Candle Lighting      7:58 pm
                                            in honor of the Bar Mitzvah of their son Michael
                             Seudah Shlishit & Bima Flowers in the Beit Midrash
                                      are sponsored by Hindi & Ben Lunzer
                 in honor of the marriage of their daughter Ariella to David Dachoh
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