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balak

/Tag:balak

Pinchas – the Slayer of Uncertainty

A strange episode at the end of the last Torah portion, Balak, where Pinchas (Phinehas) slain a Jewish prince caught in the act with a heathen woman, is rewarded in this week’s present eponymous Torah portion with the priesthood.  This begs the question, what is the connection between the act of zealotry by Pinchas and the reward of priesthood he receives for it? By way of background, as we read in the previous Torah portion, the evil king, Balak, fails to bring a curse on the Jewish people by Bilam (Balaam).  According to Midrash, Bilam advises Balak to send most beautiful Midian women to seduce Jewish men (see Flavius Josephus's Antiquities of the Jews, Book IV, Chapter VI, Paragraphs 6-12). Balak heads the advice and uses Moabite and Midianite women to seduce Jewish men [...]

Secrets of the Talking Ass

And God opened the mouth of the ass, and she said to Bilam: "What have I done to you, that you have struck me these three times?" And Bilam said to the ass: "Because you have mocked me; I would there were a sword in my hand, for now I would kill you." And the ass said to Bilam: "Am not I your ass, upon which you have ridden all your life to this day? Was I ever wont to do so to you?" And he said, "No." Num. 22:28-30 Despite the simple dialogue between Balaam (Bilam) and his ass in the Torah portion of Balak, this ass was no ordinary ass. This ass saw an angel where a prophet as great as her owner, Balaam, did not. It stands to reason that [...]