Explore the Spiritual and Inspiring World of
Congregation Beit Shalom
Eli B. Perlman, Rabbi/Hazzan
Maurice Mahler, President
Larry Cohen, 1st VP, Treas.
Lillian Rich, Sisterhood President
Bill Lidman, Men's Club President
“This is definitely a congregation like no other.
It is a close family… a very special family!”
– Rabbi Eli B. Perlman –
Congregation Beit Shalom is a unique Conservative Congregation that is comprised of approximately 750 members. The difference between this and other congregations is that we are truly a family. We get together to pray, to learn, to laugh, to sing, to schmooze, and to eat. We study and watch movies together. We learn Torah and we share experiences in our lives. More importantly, when someone is in need, we help each other in ways that continue to inspire everyone.
June 26 Shabbat Balak: Num. 22.2-25.9. Haftorah: Micah 5.6-6.8.
To those who might argue that the Jews had an unfair advantage over other nations because they had Moshe as their leader, the Torah presents us the strange narrative about the Prophet Bilaam. Here we find a man who had all the spiritual “gifts” that Moshe had, plus he had the ability to lead in the name of G-d. Unlike Moshe, however, Bilaam tried to use his gifts to negate the will of G-d. He was known throughout the region as a sorcerer, a man whose curse was unchallengeable and whose blessing was irrefutable.
Enter Balak, King of Moab. Together with the Midianite, he sees that the nation of Hebrew wanderers are approaching and he is shaken by this. He needs to stop this expansionist tribe of nomads at all costs, so he sends for Bilaam to put a curse on the Jews.
At first, Bilaam is hesitant to make the journey. He realizes that his power comes from G-d, and that he cannot simply curse the Nation of G-d, unless his Master lets him. It does not take long for his greed to beat out his conscience, so he mounts his ass to begin the journey. An angel of G-d, and a talking mule (not to be confused with the modern day Shrek or Francis the Talking Mule from the 1950s) cannot stand in his way. He is adamant about seeing Balak to receive his charge, but he has significant doubts as to what G-d will actually allow him to say.
This uncertainty was well placed since Bilaam ultimately will fail three times to curse the Jews. Remarkably, each curse is transformed into a blessing instead. Finally, he looks out over the people and blesses them with: “How goodly are your tents O Jacob, your dwelling places, O Israel.” Naturally, Balak is not impressed with this and sends the sorcerer packing.
Israel cannot be ruined from an outside curse. It can, however, bring misfortune upon itself through its own misdeeds. After Bilaam’s departure, we read of the recklessness of the Hebrews who begin to worship the Midianite and Moabite women and Baal-Peor, a local deity. This leads to the outbreak of a plague among the nation. Pinchas, grandson of Aaron, rushes forward to kill the leaders of the pack in, what is best called, a zealous rage. This brings the plague comes to a screeching halt.
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