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Dedicated in memory of Alice Setton

           Parshat Balak                                                          June 26, 2021  16 Tammuz, 5781
                     TORAH                Rabbi Jonathan Sacks on Parshat Balak
               ARTSCROLL  856
                  HERTZ   669          Many questions have     only witnesses were Balak,   eventually say it – was the
                                       rightly been asked about   Bilam, and some Moabite   promise He gave to
                  HAFTORAH             the story of Balak and   princes. Had the Israelites   Abraham: “I will bless those
              ARTSCROLL   1189         Bilam and the would-be   known the danger they were in,  who bless you, and whoever
                  HERTZ  682           curses that turned into   and how they were saved from   curses you I will curse”
                                       blessings. Was Bilam a   it, it would have given them   (Gen. 12:3).
                 Bar Mitzvah           true man of God, or was   pause for thought before   Who was to be affected by
                       of              he a fraud, a magician, a   engaging in immorality and idol   this episode? What was the
                 Justin Ellis          sorcerer, a practitioner of  worship with the Moabite   intended change it was
                                       dark arts? Did he have
                                                               women, in the episode that
                                                                                           meant to bring about? Who
                    Aufruf             genuine powers? Was he   follows on immediately from the   was its target audience? It
                                       really – as some of the
                                                               story of Bilam. They would have
                       of              Sages said – the equal of   known that the Moabites were   did not affect the Moabites.
              Jordan Goldman           Moses?  Was he driven by  not their friends.        They proceeded to get their
                                       the prospect of reward                              women to successfully entice
                     Times             and honor from the      Even Moses would not have   the Israelite men. A plague
                                       Moabites and Midianites,   known what happened, had God  then struck the Israelites,
           Weekly Times                  or was he motivated by   not told him. In short, the   taking 24,000 lives. It did
           Shacharit: Sunday    8:30 am   animosity toward the   Israelites were rescued from a   not affect the Midianites,
                                                               danger they knew nothing
                                                                                           whose hostility to Israel was
           Mon. & Thurs.     6:35/7:45 am   Israelites and their   about by a deliverance they   such that God later told
                                       seeming closeness to
           Tues., Wed. & Fri.   6:45/7:45 am   God? Why did God first   knew nothing about. How then   Moses: “Treat the Midianites
                                         tell him not to go, then   did it, or could it, affect them?   as enemies and kill
           Mincha               8:15 pm   seemingly change His   Besides which, why did God   them” (Num. 25:17-18).
                                                               need Bilam to go at all? He said  Several chapters later God
                                       mind and tell him to go?
           Shabbat Times                 What is the meaning of   ‘No’ the first time. He could   instructed Moses to take
           Friday Night         7:00 pm   the episode of the talking   have said ‘No’ the second time   military vengeance against
                                                               also. The curses would have
                                                                                           them (Numbers 31). It did
           Mincha                      donkey? Did it really
                                       happen, or was it, as   been avoided, Israel would   not affect Bilam himself. The
           Candle Lighting      8:12 pm                        have been protected, and there  Torah is very subtle about
                                       Maimonides argued, a
           Hashkama             8:00 am   vision in Bilam’s mind?   would have been no need for   this. First, we read about the
                                       These are real questions,   the angel, the talking donkey   Moabite seduction of the
           Parsha Shiur         8:30 am                        and the various locations,   Israelites and the deadly
                                       much debated. But there
           Main Sanctuary       9:00 am   are more fundamental   sacrifices, and attempted   plague it caused. Then, six
                                                               curses. The entire drama seems  chapters later, we read that
                                       ones. What is the story
           Beit Midrash         9:15 am   doing here at all? The   to have been unnecessary. Why  in the course of the war
           Youth Minyan         9:45 am   entire episode occurred   did God put into Bilam’s mouth   against the Midianites, Bilam
                                                                                           was killed (31:8). Then,
                                                               the extraordinary poetry that
                                       away from the Israelites.
           Gemara Shiur          7:05 pm   No one from their side,   makes the blessings among the  several verses later, “They
                                                               most lyrical passages in the
                                                                                           were the ones who followed
           Mincha/SS            8:05 pm   not even Moses, was   Torah. All He really needed   Bilam’s advice and enticed
                                       there to witness it. The
           Shabbat Ends         9:20 pm                        Bilam to say – and Bilam did   the Israelites to be unfaithful
                   Latest Times for                          Kiddush is sponsored by
                Shema/Shemoneh Esrei
                                                                Janine & Matt Ellis
           June 26          9:11/10:26 am
                                              in honor of the Bar Mitzvah of their son Justin
           July 3           9:13/10:28 am
                                                        Bima Flowers are sponsored by
                    Next Shabbat
                      Pinchas                                 Susie & David Goldman
           Mincha               7:00 pm               in honor of the upcoming marriage
           Candle Lighting      8:12 pm                   of their son Jordan to Stacey Ellenthal
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