Parasha Talk – Balak – 5781 – Rabbis Eliot Malomet, Jeremy Kalmanofsky and Barry Chesler

Parsashat Balaq [Numbers 22:2-25:9] is perhaps best-known for the story of Balaam and his donkey, one of the few animals in the Torah to be given a talking role. Balaq, the king of Moab, is eager to protect himself and his nation from the Israelites, and tries to hire Balaam to curse the Israelites. In short, that mission ends in failure for Balaq, since Balaam is compelled to bless the Israelies. One verse [Numbers 24:5] is well-known to synagogue-goers, recited on entering a synagogue, Mah tovu ohalekha ya’aqov, mish’knotekha yisrael [How goodly are your tents, Jacob, your dwelling-places, Israel]. The parashah ends with half of the story of the apostasy at Baal Peor [Numbers 25:1-9], which will conclude next week.

Staff week has begun at Camp Ramah Berkshires, where this show originated. A shoutout to all the staff, especially Mitch Mernick! Shabbat Shalom!!