Parshiyot Hukkat-Balak 5783

June 26, 2023

Rabbi Katy Allen ('05)

I delight in the robins, cardinals, and other common birds that I regularly see and hear in my yard, and their presence brings me joy. But recently, thanks to the wonders of technology in the form of the Merlin app produced by Cornell University, my ears, mind, and heart have been opened to the knowledge that there are many other, less common and well-known birds, right here in my own backyard. Through the ability of this app to inform me of the birds around me by recording their songs, I have discovered that rose-breasted grosbeaks, warbling vireos, chimney swifts, and cedar waxwings are prone to visiting my neighborhood. Who knew! What a wonder! The joy, uplift, delight, and hope that awareness of these mostly unseen birds bring me is deep and unbounded. They make my day. Balak, King of Moab, sends Bilam to curse the Israelites. Along the way, Bilam has a...

Read more >

Parashat Balak 5782

July 14, 2022

In this week’s D’var Torah, Rabbi Matthew Goldstone encourages us to see deeper meaning behind Bilaam’s blessings.

Read more >

Parashat Balak 5781

June 24, 2021

Click HERE for an audio recording of this D’var Torah A D’var Torah for Parashat Balak By Rabbi Doug Alpert (’12) Responding to a request from a congregant at my Shul, for quite some time now we have been studying the role of angels in Judaism. I was grateful for the suggestion as I immediately knew the source for our studies, the book, A Gathering of Angels by Morris B. Margolies z”l. I grew up with Rabbi Margolies as my spiritual leader. As I am continually looking for opportunities to cite and honor all of my teachers to have the opportunity to do a deep dive into Rabbi Margolies’ most widely read work has been a source of great joy to me. Rabbi Margolies has had an enormous influence on my work as rabbi; particularly his passion and courage in confronting controversial issues of social injustice. A Gathering of Angels has served as a...

Read more >

Parashat Hukkat – Balak 5780

July 2, 2020

A D’var Torah for Parashat Hukkat – Balak By Rabbi Len Levin We are reading two parshiyot this week, each rich in lessons. We can only present a few hors d’oeuvres here; enjoy the rest at your leisure! * * * The ritual of the red heifer raised many puzzles for the rabbis, to the point that they said that the wise king Solomon, frustrated in trying to solve them, gave up in despair and said: “All this I tested with wisdom, I thought I could fathom it, but it eludes me.” (Ecclesiastes 7:23; Pesikta Rabbati 14:1) The central mystery arises from the fact that it is a ritual for purification from contact with death. We are still struggling to understand the causes of death, which even now are evolving and mutating as we try to cope with them. A favorite question was: How is it that the ashes of the heifer...

Read more >

Parashat Balak 5779

July 17, 2019

A D’var Torah for Parashat Balak By Rabbi Bruce Alpert (’11) My family has a habit of frequenting struggling restaurants, which means we often wind up befriending their owners. And, given my limited menu choices, those owners usually soon discover that we are Jewish. One night, many years ago, my wife was talking to one of these owners about the difficulties she was facing in her own business. To which the struggling restaurateur replied “Oh, you don’t have to worry. You’re Jewish and God doesn’t let Jewish businesses fail.” This week’s Torah portion and its story of Balaam, the heathen prophet hired by Moabite king Balak to curse Israel, brought that evening at that long since shuttered restaurant to mind. Having twice failed in his mission, we are told that Balaam turns his gaze to the wilderness where he lifts his eyes and sees Israel “encamped tribe by tribe.” (Numbers, 24:2)...

Read more >