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Weekly Newsletter

July 18, 2019
Weekly Newsletter


Candle lighting   8:03pm

Evening services   6:30pm



Morning services   9:30am

Kiddush provided by the TriBeCa Synagogue

Shabbat ends 9:05pm


Sunday/17th of Tamuz observed

Fast begins   4:30am

Fast concludes   9:01pm


This week's portion features one of the more bizarre phenomena of the entire Torah: the talking donkey. While there is a dichotomy as to whether the Torah meant this literally or allegorically, I believe there is a broader point here that goes beyond this whole discussion.

Balak presents to us one of the most astonishing analyses of the concept of free will and specifically how far it goes. The protagonist Balaam has a relationship with God on some level and knows His position on this task of cursing the Israelite nation. Nevertheless he pursues his goal and is physically hindered by his donkey. But he continues to persist even to the point that an amazing miracle takes place where the animal itself verbally protests this mission. One would think that there could be no greater wake up call than that! But Balaam continues until finally he is confronted with an actual angel of God who also expresses displeasure with him so there could be absolutely no question what the truth was by then.

So the Torah is revealing to us just how powerful our inclination of free will is, it is essentially limitless if indeed that is our will. Balaam may have been a sorcerer, albeit a prophetic one, but we have much to learn from this story, no matter how fantastical. Most of us inherently know the truth of any particular situation but act at cross purposes even when staring directly at stronger and stronger evidence that we are going the wrong route. May WE wake up before it's too late.

Saturday is the 17th of Tamuz, beginning the 3 weeks of mourning the destruction of the temple and other tragedies culminating with the 9th of Av. Normally both days are observed as fasts but as they fall out on Shabbat they are observed on their respective following Sundays.


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Wed, May 27 2020 4 Sivan 5780