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Donkey

Learning Wisdom from a Beast of Burden

There is no doubt that the donkey is the star of Parashat Balak. In an episode that itself is unnecessary to the plot of the Book of Numbers, she is dispensable. And yet she leaps out of the text (as much as a donkey can leap) as one of the most unforgettable characters of the book.

D'var Torah By: 
Facing and Confronting Private Failings in Public Figures
Davar Acher By: 
Rabbi David Wirtschafter

Rabbi Grushcow’s insightful, multilayered analysis of this passage in Parashat Balak imparts newfound urgency to age-old questions. Like the women of the #MeToo movement, her writing has called out the behavior of a powerful and well-known man for what it is: abusive. So, too, she takes the victim of the abuse seriously, as someone possessing thought and feeling, instead of a prop of no real importance or value.

Distracted by Blessing

In this week’s Torah portion, Balak, the king of Moab, Balak, is afraid that the Israelites’ encampment will ravish his land. He seeks to have a diviner named Balaam curse the Israelites. But God turns the curses to blessings.

D'var Torah By: 
Laughter Is the Best Medicine
Davar Acher By: 
Rabbi Mara Young

This week's portion, Balak, provides an example of how we can subvert anger with humor. The prophet Balaam endeavors to drive the donkey and gets incensed when she does not budge. We the readers see the humor of the situation in which a donkey can see an angel of God who blocks her way while the "prophet" cannot.

Love Yourself When Your Neighbors Won’t

This week's Torah reading, Parashat Balak, helps us consider the effects of persecution on our psyches. In it, we encounter Balaam, a prophet for hire, whom the Moabite king Balak enlists to curse the Israelites. Balaam, however, is unable to fulfill his commission. Balaam recounts:

From Aram has Balak brought me,
Moab's king from the hills of the East:
Come, curse me Jacob, Come, tell Israel's doom!
How can I damn whom God has not damned,
How doom when the Eternal has not doomed?
As I see them from the mountain tops,
Gaze on them from the heights,
There is a people that dwells apart,
Not reckoned among the nations, . . . (Numbers 23:7-9)

Balaam, looking down at the Children of Israel's camp from the heights of the surrounding peaks, sums up the people's history up to that point and well into the future: "There is a people that dwells apart, / Not reckoned among the nations," he sings.

D'var Torah By: 
The Challenges of Being Both Modern and Jewish
Davar Acher By: 
Sarah Magida

"How can I be both modern and Jewish, simultaneously? This is the existential question." That's what Rabbi David Ellenson said to us on the very first day of his Modern Jewish Thought course at Hebrew Union College. This is also the question that Rabbi Skloot asks in his reading of Balak as well as the question that my students ask themselves on a regular basis.

Whose Word Is It Anyway?

"Blessed is the One who spoke and the world came to be . . ." (P'sukei D'zimrah, morning liturgy). It is among the most central of Jewish values. The power of the word.

D'var Torah By: 
God’s Word
Davar Acher By: 
Mark Kaiserman

We don't have prophets anymore. Judaism tell us the final prophet was Malachi (Babylonian Talmud, Sanhedrin 11a).

There's More Than One Kind of Magic!

I do "magic" for preschoolers at our Kabbalat Shabbat. I make a Kiddush cup drink the wine. I fill a blank coloring book with colored pictures.

D'var Torah By: 
It Cuts Both Ways
Davar Acher By: 
Ira J. Wise

midrash says that there are four laws in the Torah that defy reason yet must be obeyed because they are divinely commanded.

A Thin Line Between Passion and Zealotry

The final nine verses of Parashat Balak, the second parashah in this week's double portion, tell the story of Zimri, who brings a Midianite woman into the Israelite camp for the p

D'var Torah By: 
The New Generation: Thirsting Between a Rock and a Hard Place
Davar Acher By: 
Sheva Locke and Ron Avi Astor

In the first half of this week's double portion, Parashat Chukat/Balak, the Israelites are caught between a rock and a hard place.

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