Balak: Reality Test

June 29, 2018 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
In a world in which image and marketing play such a crucial role, perception is often more important than reality. In fact, perception often creates reality—beginning with our perception of what is happening around us. “And Balak, the son of Tzippor, saw all that Israel had done to the Amorites”. Balak became nervous and joined forces with his traditional archenemy, Midian (see Rashi 22:4), in order to try to stop...
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Balak: Missed Opportunities

July 07, 2017 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
What a waste of talent. “No other prophet like Moses has arisen in Israel who knew G-d face to face” (Devarim 34:10).  Our Sages, in an astounding comment, assert that in Israel, no prophet arose like Moshe—but that amongst the nations of the world, there did arise an equal to Moshe, namely Bilaam.  Here was a gifted prophet recognized throughout the world for his immense abilities. A man who, greeted by the...
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Balak: Animal Rights, Human Wrongs

July 22, 2016 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
"The pre-eminence of man over beast is non-existent, for all is vain" (Shacharit). Man has unfortunately proven the truth of this statement over and over again. Our desire for momentary pleasure all too often blinds us to the long term repercussions of our actions. Moreover our cruelty, cunning, deceit, and moral decay know no bounds.    Even animals at times display an innate sense of what is right and wrong....
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Balak: The Lion King

July 03, 2015 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
It is for good reason that the lion is the king of the jungle. Powerful, courageous, fearless, and ferocious, lions sit at the top of the food chain. It is no wonder that our Sages urge us to follow in the footsteps of the lion in the service of our Creator. "Awake like a lion to do the will of your father in heaven"; "one should be as brave as a lion". It is the Biblical text itself that invokes the fear of a lion in...
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Balak: Dwelling Amongst the Nations

July 04, 2014 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
Perhaps no greater question has vexed the Jewish people as that of our relationship with the nations of the world. Should it be one of integration? Assimilation? Separation? Acculturation? Ghettoization? Should we embrace or reject the world around us? For much of our history, we did not have the luxury to debate this question; the nations of the world made sure that we were a nation that dwelled apart. Thankfully, Jews today can choose whether...
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