Our special guest today is Rabbi Elliot Dorff, Rector and Professor of Philosophy at American Jewish University. Rabbi Dorff was ordained by the Jewish theological Seminary in 1970 and received his PhD in philosophy from Columbia University the following year. For over 30 years he has taught a course on Jewish law at UCLA as a visiting Professor. He has chaired three scholarly organizations- the Academy of Jewish Philosophy, the Jewish Law Association, and the Society of Jewish Ethics- and holds three honorary doctoral degrees. Rabbi Dorff has authored over 200 articles on Jewish thought, law and ethics, as well as a dozen books.
This Week's Torah portion- Parashat Balak (Numbers 22:2-25:9)- tells the famous story of the prophet Bilaam, who was sent by the Moabite king Balak to curse the people of Israel. On his way, Bilaam is berated by his Donkey who sees an angel of God blocking the road. Bilaam tries to curse the people of Israel three times (from three different vantage points) and each time ends up blessing them. He then continues to prophesize on the end of days and the coming of the Messiah. At the end of the portion the people of Israel fall prey to the lure of the daughters of Moab who tempt them to worship the idol Peor. When a leading figure in the community publicly takes a Midianite princess to his tent, Pinchas kills them both and stops the plague raging in the camp.