This week’s Parasha contains the famous praise known to all of us from our earliest days in Hebrew School—Mah tovu ohalecha Yaakov. Most are startled to learn that those words of blessing (at least the first sentence) actually came from the mouth of an enemy of our People—Bilaam—who was being paid by a foreign king to curse Israel. The story is filled with irony. The Parasha itself is ironically named after this evil king, Balak. Fascinating that we do not have a Parasha named after Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moshe, Aaron, Rebecca, Rachel, Leah or Miriam, but we have one named after this great rasha, the evil king Balak? The greatest evil sorcerer and prophet of all time Bilaam cannot see an angel sent by God to block his path, but Bilaam’s donkey could? In the infamous joke about constipated men in the Bible, Bilaam figured prominently. He is renowned because of his inability to move his ***. Perhaps he should have done what another of the famous constipated men of the Bible—Moses– did. He took two tablets. But that is a different Parasha.
For this week’s Shabbat Torah Study, we are treated to learn with Melissa Ser, our Education Director. She is an outstanding teacher. 10:00 a.m. is when we begin (but come at your convenience). She will be teaching on a fascinating and important subject directly related to this week’s Parasha, “Blessings that are curses, curses that are blessings—and the things that prevent us from seeing what is really before us.” Come as you are. Our plan is to finish in time to also benefit from the Rabbi’s Sermon and enjoy a beautiful Musaf.
Note: Our Shabbat Torah study is very friendly and informal. All are welcome. Please share this note with anyone who you think might enjoy informal Torah Study on Shabbat morning.