Saturday, June 30, 2007

DVAR TORAH S2: Balak (Nice ass!)

I hope that got your attention. This is one of my favorite parshiot, and not just because it is the one time I can say God is talking out of His ass and not be accused of blasphemy (no, the heresy charges come from other things I say). Looking at my last year's edition of this Torah portion, actually the double-parasha of Chukat-Balak, I wrote about EVERYTHING. So, what should I write about. Maybe I will mention something mentioned at shul this week, that "the malediction becomes a benediction".

But I just thought of something new (I am an inclusionist and so have left my thought process intact). I am a little bugged by the way some non-Jews are treated by God in the Torah, particularly Pharaoh and Balaam. It is anathema to Judaism that free-will can be taken away. Yet Pharaoh in the hardening of his heart and Balaam in the words that come out of his mouth, the thrice changed maleditction-to-benediction, these imply that God is directly supplanting the freedom of choice which He has graciously destroyed to all humanity. I don't know of any accounts of Jews having their free-will taken away from them by God (sure, Pharaoh takes their free will away when he enslaves them, but he is not divine (at least according to us)). In fact, Balaam seems to be a servant even to his donkey. What an ass!

Shabbat Shalom

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