(Haftara: Micah 5:6-6:8)
(Pirkay Avot: Chapter 5)
- [23:3] “And Bila’am said to Balak, “Stand over your offering…” Our tradition has an ambivalent relationship to Bila’am. On the one hand, Balak considers him a suitable person to curse Israel. On the other hand, he gives Israel an extremely positive blessing, and speaks in beautiful, positive poetic images. The Torah also presents personalities of Israel with their weaknesses, in addition to their strengths. What type of personality is the Torah trying to develop in us, by having us learn about and identify with people with complex personalities?
- [23:9] “…a people will live alone, and will not be counted among the nations”. Is this statement positive or negative? How does it describe the situation of the Jewish people today?
- [23:19 ] “God is not a man, that He should lie; or a person who changes His mind…” However, even in this parsha, God changes His mind [22:12-20]. Our prophets tell us that God is beyond human qualities—is total positivity. However, God reveals Himself to us with human-like qualities. When we pray, should we think about God beyond human qualities, or should we think about God with human-like qualities?
- [Haftara: Micah 6:8] “…what does God ask of you: only to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God”. Are people who love kindness and walk humbly capable of doing justice. It would seem that one must be aggressive and obstinate to achieve justice in society. Is it realistic for the prophet to ask that a person have all three of these qualities?
- [Pirkay Avot 5:26] “According to the pain [effort], is the reward.” Some people are born with intelligence, charm, money, good-looks etc. How will they get the reward?
Torah causes expansion of mind and inner joy, even without clinging to God…however, learning Torah in order to cling to God—there is nothing to compare it to—it is beyond all the riches of this world.
–R. Avraham Y. H. Kuk, 1865-1935, Lithuania and Israel.
This study page is dedicated to the memory of Gad Eliahu ben David and Kochava–Eli Zucker
And to the memory of Sarah Beila Kummer bat Yitzchak and Chana, Chaim Yosef Yechiel ben Eliyahu Kummer and Eliyahu and Margaret Kummer