(Haftara: Michah 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?
2. [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?
3. [24:17] “…a star will step out of Ya’akov…” The Ramban understands that the star, which is in the far ends of the universe, represents the people of Israel, who are in the far ends of the earth. The metaphor of a star is used to represent the Jewish people in a number of places in the Torah. Why is a star a good metaphor for the Jewish people?
4. [Pirkei Avot 5:13] “One who wants to give [charity], but does not want others to give..”. Why would a person who gives charity not want others to give? How could one rid himself of this quality?
5. [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?
“I am always afraid to be more clever than I am religious. I would rather be religious than clever. But better than both religious or clever, I would like to be good.”
–R. Pinchas Shapira, 1726-1791, Koretz, Poland.
This study page is dedicated to the memory of Sarah Bella bat Yitzchak Kummer, Chaim Yosef Yechiel ben Eliyahu Kummer and Eliyahu and Margaret Kummer