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Young Israel of Plainview

Parshat Balak
The Prophecy Project
"My people remember now what Balak king of Moab devised, and what Balaam son of Beor answered him." (Micha 6:5). Our Haftorah, Micha 5-6, offers an obvious parallel to our parsha. In the midst of his consolation and encouragement to the Jewish people, he reminds them of the blessings of Balaam, after Balak had hired him to curse the people of Israel. Perhaps most interesting is Micha's particular consolation. Whereas when Isaiah consoles the people of Israel he promises redemption, Micha makes no such promise. Exile is inevitable, "the remnant of Israel amongst the multitude of nations" (5:7). Micha's promise is independence. The exiled nation often feels that they are forced to count on the kindness of nations and are unable to control their destiny. Israel, however, will be like the lion independent of the other beasts. Counting on soothsayers and necromancers is the desperate act of the powerless. Israel even in its exile can retain manifest destiny. Ultimately, because God stands behind the people of Israel, He will be the arbiter of their destiny and offer them the independence from their subjugating nation. And He asks only for their commitment: "He has told you what is good and what He asks of you, to pursue justice, love kindness, and walk modestly with the your Lord" (6:8). Commitment to the ideals of Torah in exile allows us the independence from subjugation. Micha reminds the people of Balak and Balaam's attempts and inability to subjugate the people.

The Seventeenth of Tammuz
Sunday's fast day reminds us of the breaching of the wall during the second Temple period. The walls of Jerusalem were breached on the ninth of Tammuz. Tradition has it that it was on this day that Moses broke the first tablets as well. Ironically, July 4, 1776 was the day the Declaration of Independence was read. The 17th of Tammuz also begins the national period of mourning know as the Three Weeks. Haircuts, live music, and parties are prohibited during this time as the entire Jewish community takes upon itself mourning similar to the year of mourning for a parent. The Fast Begins: 4:18am The Fast Ends: 9:04pm