Rabbi Jonathan Freirich is the rabbi of Temple Beth Zion in Buffalo.
Rabbi Freirich received rabbinic ordination from the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in 1999. Since becoming a rabbi, he has served Jews of all ages at Hillel organizations on college campuses in Tucson and Cleveland, at Jewish homes for the aged, at a vibrant Reform congregation named Temple Bat Yam in the mountains of South Lake Tahoe, and most recently, at the premier Reform synagogue of the Carolinas, Temple Beth El in Charlotte.
This Week’s Torah portion – Parashat Balak (Numbers 22:2-25:9) – features the famous story of the prophet Bilaam, who was sent by the Moabite king Balak to curse the people of Israel. On his way, Bilaam is berated by his Donkey who sees an angel of God blocking the road. Bilaam tries to curse the people of Israel three times (from three different vantage points) and each time ends up blessing them. He then continues to prophesize on the end of days and the coming of the Messiah. Our discussion tries to examine Bilaam’s odd story, its message, and its special status in Judaism.
Previous Torah Talks on Balak: