Like Bilaam, we should open our eyes to seeing the problematic paths we take in life.
Balak, the king of the nation Moav. He hires the prophet Balaam to curse the Israelites, whom he perceives as a threat. Balaam then discovers that the power of blessing and cursing is God's alone. On his way to curse Israel, his donkey stops, for an angel blocks the way, but Balaam can't perceive what his animal is doing. Finally, Balaam blesses Israel with a famous blessing that is now part of the daily morning service. At the end of the parashah, the Israelites get in trouble by worshipping a foreign deity.
"Balaam said to the angel of the Lord, 'I have sinned. I did not realize you were standing in the road to oppose me. Now if you are displeased, I will go back'" (Numbers 22:34).
Balak really wants Balaam to curse the Israelites, but Bilaam senses that this is not what God wants him to do. After Balak's men pressure and cajole him, God tells Balaam he can go to meet Balak, but he must only do what God tells him. Still, God seems to be angry that Balaam has chosen this path, and sends an angel with a drawn sword to block his way. The donkey sees the angel, and refuses to proceed, but Balaam thinks the donkey is disobeying him. Finally, God allows Balaam to perceive the angel, and then Balaam pleads ignorance--he wouldn't have tried to move on if he had known there was an angel blocking his way!
A Hasidic commentator points out that if Balaam really didn't know about the angel, how could he have "sinned" in trying to move along?
"I have sinned. . ." This is surprising! If he didn't know, what was the sin? The answer is that there are times when not knowing is itself the sin. For example, if a child strikes a parent, he can't justify it by saying he didn't know it was forbidden to strike one's parents. A captain of the guard of the king cannot say that he didn't know who the king was!
This is the case of a prophet and an angel--if the prophet says that he didn't know that the angel was stationed before him, that's the sin. This is what Balaam said: "I sinned, because I didn't know--as a prophet, I should have known that the angel stood before me--not knowing was the sin itself." (From Itturei Torah, translation mine.)
Rabbi Neal Joseph Loevinger is currently the rabbi of Temple Beth-El in Poughkeepsie, NY. He was ordained in the first graduating class of the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies of the University of Judaism, and holds a Master's of Environmental Studies from York University in Toronto.
May Their Memories Be For a Blessing
6/21/2013 (13 Tammuz)
6/22/2013 (14 Tammuz)
6/23/2013 (15 Tammuz)
6/25/2013 (17 Tammuz)
6/27/2013 (19 Tammuz)
6/29/2013 (21 Tammuz)
6/30/2013 (22 Tammuz)
To make a donation to commemorate a yahrtzeit, please click here. If you are a member of the synagogue and a yahrtzeit for your loved one is not on the list, please contact the synagogue office so we can update our records.
Please click here if you wish to permanently memorialize a loved one by purchasing a yahrtzeit plaque.
Shabbat Services: BALAK
Friday, June 21ST
6 p.m. Services, Chapel
Saturday, June 22nd:
9 a.m. Services, Sanctuary
B'nai Mitzvah of Yael and Ilan Elrom, children of Itzik Elrom and Paula Levy, siblings of Rachel, Joey and Dayna and Melissa, grandchildren of Elane and Frank (z"l) Basch and Aliza and Moshe (z"l) Buncel.
Kiddush Lunch is sponsored by Itzik Elrom and Paula Levy in honor of the b'nai mitzvah of their children, Yael and Ilan.
Kiddush Lunch is available through the generosity of weekly sponsors. Please e-mail or call the synagogue office if you would like to sponsor a kiddush lunch. You may also make a donation to the synagogue specifically for the Kiddush Lunch Fund by clicking here.
To Geri Feigelson on the birth of her new grandson, Elliot Hank Gartner.
To Karen and Allan Lovinger on the birth of their new granddaughter, Alexandra Mriam Barrett.
To Jay and Renee Kozlowski on the engagement of Renee's daughter, Rachel Mutchnick to Michael Wassel.
B'nai Israel Sisterhood information.
Questions? E-mail or call Betsy Wolf: 248-207-0408.
Yizkor Book 5774/2013-2014
To place names in the book for the coming year,
Fridays at 6 p.m.,
Bloomer Park, West Bloomfield
July 5th, August 2nd
Upcoming Youth and Family Activities
Supervised Youth Activities, Room 3, lower level
Parent volunteers staff the youth room during the summer months.
To stay current on all youth and family activities, contact Ilana Glazier to join the B'nai Israel Families Facebook Group.
VOICES NEEDED, Youth ages 10+
to accompany our hazzan during Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur services.
Learn to Read Hebrew with Michael Wolf
Monday evenings, 7-8:30, July 8th-August 19th
BI/TKA Library Materials Fee: $36.00
Class size is limited. This class is for adults with limited or no Hebrew reading knowledge. Click here for registration form.
Non-members of B'nai Israel are welcome to attend.
Women in Tanach: A Four Part Lecture Series
offered through Partners in Torah
Wednesdays, 10:30 a.m.
June 26, July 10 and 17
at the home of Susan Feber
5041 Greensward Court
West Bloomfield, MI 483232
Upcoming Community Events
and TKA/BI Joint Opportunities
Road Rally with TKA and BI
Sunday, July 28th, 5:30 p.m.
All stitchers are welcome.
needlepoint, crochet hook or cross stitch and join the group. There is no charge to attend.
7 PM at the TKA/BI building.
FUTURE DATES: e-mail Gail Raben.
Caring Community Information
Refuah Sh'leimah/Wishing a Speedy Recovery
Please email Michael Golob or call the synagogue: 248-432-2729 if you wish to add a name to our communal list. Our caring community reaches out to one another in a variety of ways. We welcome our new members warmly with a special visit and gift. We provide shiva minyan leaders. We call/visit/provide meals for members who are ill or home-bound, bring a home-cooked shiva meal to mourners in our community, and help to drive members who need a ride to synagogue services and events. If you would like to help in any way, please call or
20 Davida Robinson
21 Carol Golob
21 Marni Jacobson
22 Jonathan Lowe
23 Daniel Kuhn
24 Jessica Singer
25 Max Feber
26 Herb Lantor
26 Karen Rosenberg
28 Madeline Kaufman
28 Ruth Webber
20 John Marcotte & Vicki Freedman
22 Steve & Joan Freedman
22 Leonard & Sharon Rosen
24 Belmont & Gertrude Kershenbaum
25 Lowell Schmeltz & Ilana Glazier
26 Ron & Sharon Gadoth-Goodman
27 Ken & Shula Brown
27 Lenny & Robin Jacobson
28 Robert & Laurie Kimmel
28 Noel & Judy Lawson
29 Mark & Loraine Kuhn
30 Alan & Barbara Funk
If your birthday or anniversary information is not listed, please email the synagogue so we can update our records.
B'nai Israel Synagogue is affiliated with USCJ,
United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism.