November 19, 2018

Rosner’s Torah-Talk: Parashat Balak with Rabbi Barry Dolinger

Our guest this week is Rabbi Barry Dolinger, leader of congregation Beth Sholom in Providence, Rhode Island. Rabbi Dolinger is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and holds a J.D. from Fordham Law School in New York. He was ordained from Yeshiva University’s Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary. In September of 2011, Rabbi Dolinger began serving as Rabbi of Congregation Beth Sholom. He also serves as Vice President of the Board of Rabbis of Greater Rhode Island, is a member of the Vaad HaKashruth of RI, and is a member of the Rabbinical Council of America and International Rabbinic Fellowship.

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 focuses on Bilaam as the unlikely hero of the parasha and on the greater messages of this odd story.

Our Previous conversations about Parashat Balak:

Rabbi Steven Bayer on Bilaam’s status as a prophet

Rabbi Eliot Dorff on the questions the parashah raises about divine intervention and free will