Balak: Something to Notice

There is much “seeing” (ra’ah) and “gazing” (shur) in this portion, along with uncovering/unveiling (gimmel-lamed-heh):

Balak sees all Israel has done. (Bamidbar/Numbers 22:2). Balaam’s ass sees the angel (22:23, 25, 27), when Balaam can’t…until his eyes are uncovered (22:31, 24:16, etc.).

Balaam sees the people (22:41, 23:2, …) and gazes at them (23:9).

Meanwhile, Balak asks Balaam to face in different directions, hoping to elicit the curse he intended to buy. Finally, Balaam turns his face to the wilderness (24:1), and the spirit of God (ruach elochim) comes upon him, whereupon Balaam recites the words that appear in the morning prayers:

How fair are your tents, O Jacob,
Your dwellings, O Israel! (24:5)


The “Opening the Book” series was originally presented in cooperation with the independent, cross-community Jewish Study Center and with Kol Isha, an open group that for many years pursued spirituality from a woman’s perspective at Temple Micah (Reform). “A Song Every Day” is an independent blog, however, and all views, mistakes, etc. are the author’s.

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