Saturday, July 23, 2005

Conservative Apikorus on the Parsha -- Balak

OK, so sue me, I'm a week late, and I'm blogging on Shabbos. So far, no thunderbolts from the blue, which seems to be evidence that my halachic ruling regarding the permissibility of Shabbos blogging is accepted by the Power Upstairs.

The story of Bilaam demonstrates the futility of pentitential prayer, plus it reveals another major Bilical Plot hole.

Why do people insist on praying to God asking for God to grant them various favors? Why should God answer such prayers?

Consider the situation: On the one hand, you have a resort owner on the Jersey Shore who prays for sunny weather to ensure good business. On the other hand, you have a South Jersey farmer who is oraying for rain, so his crop won't fail. Which prayer should God answer?

Now, as far as the plot hole in Parashat Balak: Why would God go through all this nonsense about having Bilaam agree to curse Israel, only to have him bless them? Why not allow Bilaam to curse Israel, and then, in the course of events, show that the surse had no effect? Surelt that would demonstrate to Balak the power of God and the futility of opposing Israel, as well as destroying Bilaam's credibility as a prophet, thus punishing him for agreeing to take Balak's commssion.

All in all, the onlt redeeming part of the parsha was the story of the talking donkey. Perhpas this was the inspiration for the TV show, Mr. Ed?

10 Comments:

Anonymous uncle moishy said...

Some comments:

1) Mr. Ed was inspired by the Francis the Talking Mule series of films. I believe that Donald O'Connor was the foil, but I also kinda remember Ronald Reagan doing one or two of the flicks too. Now what inspired Francis?

2) Your plot hole is no hole. One of the popular lessons in Judaism is that words have power and should be taken seriously. So there's a difference between a version of the story where Bilaam curses the Israelites impotently (your suggestion) and one where he never curses them at all. You want plot holes? Try the plot hole at the beginning of B'Shalach where God sends the Israelites to Yam Suf rather than through the land of the Philistines (see, even then Jews had no business in Gaza!).

3) The question of God striking you down when you sin is a fascinating one, no? On the one hand, I have heard Rabbis suggest that such behavior on God's part would undermine man's free will. On the other hand, the belief that individual events are guided or even decreed by God is commonplace. My MO rabbi says that the machloket among various rabbinic sources regarding the question of hashgacha prateet is very heated.

And then there's "Unitaneh Tokef"...

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Anonymous chuck said...

and if god struck with a lightning rod would stop or would you chalk it up to a coincidence....
yep i thought so

6:51 PM  
Blogger blueenclave said...

Nice try, CA. If the curse had no effect, there is no reason for Balak to believe in G-d. There is every reason for Balak to believe that Balaam is a fraud. Also, the Midrash explains this by saying that Balaam advised the Moabites to seduce the Jews.

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