Beit Midrash

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Parsha Summary:Balak


Rabbi Stewart Weiss

Tamuz 14 5775
Balak, king of Moav, fears Bnei Yisrael. He summons Bilam, a renowned sorcerer, to curse them. First, G-d forbids Bilam to go. But because Bilam is so insistent, G-d appears to him a 2nd time & permits him to go.

En route, an angel blocks Bilam's donkey's path. Frustrated, Bilam strikes the donkey each time it stops. Miraculously, the donkey speaks, asking Bilam why he is hitting her. The angel instructs Bilaam what he may or may not say about the Jewish People.

When Bilam arrives, Balak makes elaborate preparations, hoping Bilam will succeed in the curse. 3 times Bilam attempts to curse Israel; 3 times blessings issue forth from him instead. Balak, seeing that Bilam has failed, sends him home in disgrace.

Bnei Yisrael sin with the Moabite women & Moabite idols and are punished with a plague. Zimri, a Jewish leader, brazenly brings a Midianite princess into his tent in full view of Moshe and the people. Pinchas, a grandson of Aharon, grabs a spear & kills both evildoers. This halts the plague sent by G-d, but not before 24,000 have died.

The Haftora is from Micha 5.

Sunday is the (delayed) Fast of 17 Tamuz, beginning the 3 Weeks. See Ask the Rabbi for details.

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