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 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 >