Rabbi Sherman’s Weekly Torah Commentary – June 25-26, 2021 (16 Tammuz 5781)

June 25-26, 2021                                Parashat Balak
16 Tammuz 5781

This week we learn from a talking donkey that power is not the only or even the best solution.
Balaam, the Moabite soothsayer, travels by donkey to curse the Israelites. An angel that only the donkey can see blocks the path. The donkey first walks off the path, then presses against a wall, then finally lies down to avoid the angel. Balaam, thinking the animal is being disobedient, repeatedly hits her. Finally, the donkey asks what she has done to deserve being beaten, and Balaam answers that the donkey has mocked him and that he would kill her if he could.

To some scholars, the donkey represents Israel, silently struggling under the power of others. These scholars believe that Balaam represents the nations of the world who have kept Israel enslaved by force. American-born Israeli writer David Hazony writes that only the donkey sees this “divine truth” – that “Israel will always mock the nations, refusing to follow the dictates of power.”

Shiv’ah Asar B’Tammuz – Sunday, June 27
On this date in the year 70 CE (Common Era), soldiers of the Roman army broke through the walls of Jerusalem. Three weeks later, on the 9th of Av, they destroyed the Second Temple. Some observe a minor fast on this day, from dawn until dark. During this 3-week period, some refrain from public celebrations like weddings and concerts, and some refrain from getting haircuts.

Please join in this week’s Shabbat celebrations on Channel 1960 or in the Synagogue
(Limited seating in the Synagogue; masks required at all times)

Friday at 4:15 PM: Kabbalat Shabbat & Ma’ariv (Evening Service); Blessings in Dining Room at 5:15
Saturday at 10:00 AM: Shabbat Shacharit (Morning Service); Blessings in Dining Room at 12:15
Torah Talk – Shabbat afternoon at 1:30 PM in the Music Room (limited seating; masks required)
Candle Lighting in the Synagogue – If you would like to have the honor of lighting candles in the Synagogue, please contact Gitta.
Candle lighting time for the city of Mission Viejo: Friday evening at 7:47 PM
Shabbat ends Saturday evening at 8:48 PM

Shabbat Shalom!                                        Rabbi Sherman