Rabbi Sherman’s Weekly Torah Commentary – July 15-16, 2022 (17 Tammuz 5782)

 July 15-16, 2022                                                                                                         Parashat Balak
17 Tammuz 5782                                                                            


Mah tovu ohalecha Ya’akov, mishkenotecha Yisrael

How lovely are your tents, O Jacob, your dwelling places, O Israel (Numbers 24:5)


These words begin our traditional daily morning liturgy; here at Heritage Pointe we sing them every Shabbat morning. They come from this week’s parsha, and they are words of blessing. They are the words of Balaam, a wicked sorcerer. Balak, the king of Moab, hired Balaam to curse the Israelites as they passed through Balak’s kingdom on their way to Canaan. But Balaam opened his mouth and instead of cursing the Israelites, he uttered these words of blessing. Cantor Ellen Dreskin writes that these words emphasize “… the blessing of each individual’s unique role in our community, the blessing that is contained in every aspect of our own personalities, and our obligation to attempt to speak blessings and be blessings at every moment of our lives.”

At our Torah Talk class on Shabbat afternoons, we have been studying Rabbi Joseph Telushkin’s lessons on holy speech – how to speak words of kindness and compassion. We are striving to speak words of blessing and live so that we are a blessing to others. Imagine if every time we opened our mouths to say something negative (a curse), something positive (a blessing) came out instead!


Shiv’ah Asar b’Tammuz

The 17th of Tammuz is the beginning of a 3-week period of communal mourning that concludes on Tish’ah B’Av. On this date in the year 70 C.E. (the Common Era), soldiers of the Roman army broke through the walls of Jerusalem. Three weeks later, they destroyed the Second Temple. Some people fast on this day; it is considered a “minor fast,” from dawn to dusk. Since the day falls on Shabbat this year, the fast is delayed until Sunday. During these three weeks of mourning, some people avoid concerts and public celebrations such as weddings. Some people refrain from haircuts during the three weeks, prioritizing mourning and attention to history over vanity and self-care.


Please join our Shabbat celebrations in the Synagogue (masks required) or on Channel 1960

Friday at 5:00 PM:                Shabbat Blessings in the Dining Room

Friday at 6:30 PM:                Shabbat Evening Service

Saturday at 10:00 AM:       Shabbat Morning Service followed by Blessings in the Dining Room


Candle lighting time for Shabbat for the city of Mission Viejo: Friday evening at 7:43 PM

Shabbat ends Saturday evening at 8:43 PM

Shabbat Shalom                                                                                               Rabbi Sherman