Torah Portion / Synagogues
Shooting Stars And Messianic Visions
ere's a strange admission to
make: I am sympathetic to
the anti-hero of this week's
Yes, I am aware that he is merce-
nary in the use of his prophetic gift
and that he is arrogant and avaricious.
No doubt he would have cursed Israel
if God had given him the chance. He
is even guilty of cruelty to his loyal
donkey. So, what's to like?
First, you have to admit that he was
a great seer. True, he missed the angel
with the outstretched sword that even
his donkey divined, an irony noted in
the Talmud (Brakhot 7a). Yet Balaam
was a gifted prophet who obeyed
God's orders and blessed Israel three
times, to the increasing chagrin of his
patron, the Moabite King Balak.
Indeed, Balaam suffers the indignity
Daniel Nevins is a spiritual leader at
Adat Shalom Synagogue.
ADAT SHALOM SYNAGOGUE
29901 Middlebelt, Farmington Hills, 48334, (248) 851-
5100. Rabbis: Daniel Nevins, Herbert Yoskowitz, Rachel
Lawson Shere. Cantor: Howard Glantz. Rabbi emeritus:
Efry Spectre. Cantor: Yesvey Gutman. Cantor emeritus:
Larry Vieder. Services: Friday 6 p.m.; Saturday 9 a.m., 9
p.m.; weekdays 7:30 a.m., 6 p.m.; Sunday 8:30 a.m. Bat
mitzvah of Rachel Kaplan, daughter of Lisa and Larry
Kaplan at Camp Tamarack. Aufruf of Amy Frenkel and
AHAVAS ISRAEL (GRAND RAPIDS)
14601 W. Lincoln, Oak Park, 48237, (248) 547-7970.
Rabbi: David A. Nelson. Cantor: Samuel L. Greenbaum.
Ritual director: Rev. Samuel Semp. Services: Friday 6
p.m.; Saturday 9 a.m., 6:30 p.m.; Sunday 9 a.m., 5
p.m.; weekdays 7 a.m., 6:30 p.m. Children's birthday
blessings. Baby naming of Samantha Taylor Fleeter,
daughter of Aimee and Michael Fleeter. Haftorah, David
CONGREGATION B'NAI MOSHE
5075 W. Maple, West Bloomfield, 48322, (248) 851-6880.
Rabbi: Charles Popky. Ritual director: Joseph Mermelstein.
Rabbi emeritus: A. Irving Schnipper. Cantor Emeritus:
Shabtai Ackerman. Services: Friday 6 p.m.; Saturday 9:30
a.m., 8:45 p.m.; weekdays 7 a.m., 7 p.m.; Sundays and
civic holidays: 8:15 a.m., 5 p.m. Guest rabbi, Aaron
Bergman; visiting scholar, Dr. Howard Lupovitch.
BETH ISRAEL (FLINT)
G-5240 Calkins Road, Flint, 48532, (810) 732-6310.
Cantor emeritus: Sholom Kalib. President: Leonard
Meizlish. Services: Saturday 9:30 a.m., 6 p.m.; weekdays
7:30 a.m., 6 p.m.; Sunday and legal holidays 8 a.m., 6
p.m. lvriah religious school (810) 732-6312.
BETH ISRAEL (ANN ARBOR)
2000 Washtenaw Ave., Ann Arbor, 48104, (734) 665-
CONGREGATION BETH SHALOM
2727 Michigan St. SE, Grand Rapids, 49506-1297, (616)
949-2840. Rabbi: David J.B. Krishef. Cantor: Stuart R.
Rapaport. Services: Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, 7:30
a.m.; Friday, 7 p.m.; Saturday, 9:30 a.m.
CONGREGATION BETH AHM
9897. Rabbi: Robert Dobrusin. Services: Friday 6 p.m.;
Saturday 9:30 a.m.; weekdays 7:30 p.m.; Sunday 5
BETH TEPHILATH MOSES
31840 W. Seven Mile, Livonia, (248) 477-8974. Cantor:
David Gutman. President: Larry Stein. Vice presidents:
Martin Diskin, Al Gittleman. Services: Friday 8 p.m.;
Saturday 9 am.
of Israel's foes. Given that Moab has
of being chastised by his donkey, by
employed Balaam to curse Israel on its
the angel and finally by Balak, each of
behalf, this prediction of the total vic-
whom accused him of a triple error in
his conduct. Yet this shlemiel ("oaf") of tory of Israel and the utter destruction
of Moab must not have gone over
a prophet carries on and manages to
utter some of the most poetic and
So what are we to make of this
powerful praise of Israel recorded in
prophet Balaam? Was he
even aware of what he was
The most famous passage
doing? Perhaps like Madame
is, of course, the Mah Tovu,
in the Harry
which praises the Israelite
Potter series, he is mostly a
tents and serves as the open-
faker who is periodically
ing line of synagogue services
overtaken by a prophetic
to this day. But I am more
voice that he cannot control.
interested in the fourth and
Yet Balaam is a complex
final prophecy made by
character — out for himself,
Balaam regarding Israel.
eager to placate villains, but
Addressing the distant
RABBI DANIEL also willing and able to sym-
future, Balaam envisions a
pathize with victims, and to
star rising from Jacob, a
bend his will to God.
scepter coming forth from
Indeed, Rabbi Yochanan
Israel, smashing the brow of
concludes that Balaam start-
Moab, the foundation of the
ed out as a legitimate prophet, but
children of Seth.
degraded himself until he became a
This prophecy is quite obscure; yet
sorcerer and a villain (Sanhedrin 106a).
for thousands of years, it has been
As is often the case, the ancient rab-
understood as a vision of the final
bis read the story more carefully and
redemption. The ancient Aramaic
creatively than we do. Noting the
translations identify the star with a
demoralizing denouement of our por-
powerful Israelite king and the scepter
tion, when the Israelite men lapsed
with the messiah who will subdue all
146 South Ave., Mt. Clemens, 48043, (810) 465-0641.
Services: weekdays 7:15 a.m.; Saturday 10 a.m.;
Sunday 8 a.m.
6800 Drake, West Bloomfield, 48322, (248) 788-0600.
Rabbi: Elliot Pachter. Cantor: Earl Berris. Services:
Friday 6 p.m.; Saturday 9 a.m., 8:45 p.m.; Monday-
Thursday 7 a.m., 6 p.m.; Friday 7 a.m.; Sunday and
legal holidays 9 a.m.; Sunday 6 p.m. Haftorah, Irving
1457 Griswold, Detroit, 48226, (313) 961-9328.
Chazan: Cantor Usher Adler. Baal Kriah: Rabbi Craig
Allen. Cantorial soloist: Neil Bards. Ritual director: Dr.
Martin Herman. President: Dr. Ellen Kahn. Services:
Saturday 8:30 a.m.
CONGREGATION SHAAREY ZEDEK
Rabbis: Joseph H. Krakoff, Jonathan E. Berkun, Eric S.
Yanoff. Rabbi emeritus: Irwin Groner. Cantor: Chaim
Najman. Ritual director: Leonard Gutman.
Southfield: 27375 Bell Road, Southfield, 48034, (248)
357-5544. Services: Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday 7:30
a.m.; Monday, Thursday 7:15 a.m.; daily 6 p.m.; Friday
6 p.m.; Saturday 9 a.m., 9 p.m.; Sunday 8:30 a.m.
West Bloomfield, B'nai Israel Center: 4200 Walnut
into lust for the Moabite women, the
Rabbis pinned the blame on Balaam.
Having failed to curse Israel, he
advised Balak on how to sour the spe-
cial relationship between God and
Israel by enticing them into moral
Thus the messenger is a villain —
yet his message remains our treasure.
The prophecies of Balaam inspire our
prayer today and give us hope for
tomorrow. During this season when
we will recall the destruction of
ancient Jerusalem, Balaam's messianic
vision gives us courage and hope that
our star will rise again, and the whole
earth will glow with the light of Israel
Is it possible to separate the mes-
sage from the messenger? Can
you think of people who, while
difficult and even distasteful, have
brought you wisdom or other
blessings? How can you help such
people realize the blessings of
Lake Road, West Bloomfield, 48323-2772, (248) 357-
5544. Services: Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday 7:15 a.m.;
Monday, Thursday 7 a.m.; daily 6 p.m.; Friday 6 p.m.;
Saturday 9 a.m., 9 p.m.; Sunday 9 a.m.
Aharon Goldstein. Services: Friday at sundown;
Saturday 9:45 a.m., 20 min. before sundown; week-
days 7:30 a.m.; Sunday 9 a.m. Times for weekdays and
Sunday are for the academic year.
ANN ARBOR ORTHODOX MINYAN
2300 Center Ave., Bay City, 48708; (989) 893-7811.
Cantor: Daniel Gale. President: Dr. Jonathan Abramson.
Services: Saturday 9:30 a.rn. A liberal, egalitarian con-
gregation serving the tri-cities area. Religious and
Hebrew education programs for children and adults.
413 N. Division St., Traverse City, 49684, (231) 929-
4330. Rabbi: Chava (Stacie) Bahle. Weekly Shabbat cel-
ebrations, holidays, year round programming, children's
education. Summer programming for downstate visi-
GROSSE POINTE JEWISH COUNCIL
(313) 882-6700. Rabbi: Nicholas Behrmann. Cantorial
soloist: Bryant Frank.
P.O. Box 130014, Ann Arbor, 48103, (734) 996-3524 or
995-1963. Rev. Lauren Zinn. Services: Friday 6:15, fol-
lowing dinner. Jewish Roots with Interfaith Wings holds
bi-monthly Shabbat dinner, services, kids' programs,
family school and Hebrew school for all ages.
15751 W. Lincoln, Southfield, 48075, (248) 552-1'971.
Rabbis: Dov Loketch, Asher Eisenberger. President:
ANN ARBOR CHABAD HOUSE
715 Hill St., Ann Arbor, 48104, (734) 995-3276. Rabbi:
1429 Hill St., Ann Arbor, 48014. Rabbi: Rod Glogower.
Services: Friday at sundown; Saturday 9:30 a.m. and
20 minutes before sundown; weekdays during the aca-
demic year 7:30 a.m.; Sunday 9 a.m.
BAIS CHABAD OF
32000 Middlebelt, Farmington Hills, 48334, (248) 855-
2910. Rabbi: Chaim Bergstein. Services: Friday sun-
down; Saturday 9:30 a.m.; Sunday 8:30 a.m.; week-
days 6:50 a.m.
BAIS CHABAD OF
NORTH OAK PARK
15401 W. 10 Mile, Oak Park, 48237, (248) 872-8878.
Rabbi: Shea Werner.
BETH TEFILO EMANUEL TIKVAH
24225 Greenfield, Southfield, 48075, (248) 559-5022.
Rabbi: Visroel Menachem Levin.
357 N. Woodward, Bloomfield Hills, 48304, (248) 203-
6721. Rabbi: Yochanan Polter. Services: Saturday 10
B'NAI ISRAEL-BETH YEHUDAH
15400 W. 10 Mile, Oak Park, 48237, (248) 967-3969.
Rabbi: Yoel Sperka.
15250 W. Nine Mile, Oak Park, 48237, (248) 968-2414.
Rabbi: Meyer Menashe Feibusch. President: Stuart
Newman. Services: Saturday 8:45 a.m.; weekdays
Shacharit at sunrise, Minchah at sunset.