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This Week's The Torah Portion: "Balak"


The Israelites are now in the "home stretch" of their 40-year journey to the Promised Land. As they march through what is the present-day country of Jordan, they encounter the natives of the region. The Israelites make a request of them: "...We ask permission to pass through your land: We assure you that we will not turn aside to your pastures, nor drink from your wells; we will march only on your main thoroughfares until we have passed through your land ..." But the nations of the region do not trust the Israelites. In fact, one of their leaders, King Balak, commissions a renowned wizard to curse the Israelites and thereby weaken them, before he attacks them!
The wizard, known as Balaam, sets out to fulfill the king's bidding. Standing on a precipice overlooking the Israelite encampment, Balaam raises his wand and prepares to curse the nation. But instead, he utters a blessing! " ...How beautiful are your tents O Jacob, your dwelling places O Israel!" Those words, spoken by a heathen sorcerer, are today the very opening words of every Jewish morning worship service!

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Alvin Wainhaus

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