1. [20:29] “…and Aharon died…” Rabbi Shimshon Raphael Hirsch says that “only a few days earlier, this same people had made the most serious and unjust accusations against the man whom they now mourned.  This shows that the complaints were a passing mood, but the people appreciated their leaders. ” What does this observation tell us about the people of Israel?  What does it tell us about Aharon?

2. [21:5] “…our soul is sick of this insignificant bread…” This bread was the manna that God gave the Israelites—the miraculous food. How could they belittle the bread in this way? What does this show us about human nature? 1.        

3. [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?

4.   [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?

5. [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?

Commentary

“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 Rivkah Rochel bat Ya’akov haLevi and Chaya Kornberg, and Yechiel Eliezer ben Yitzchok Meir and Rochel Laya Kornberg

And this study page is also dedicated to the memory of Gad Eliahu ben David and Kochava–Eli Zucker