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THE MYSTERIOUS INCLUSION OF BALAAM’S WORDS IN OUR PRAYERS

June 27th, 2018

Upon entering the synagogue each morning for prayers we intone the words first uttered by Balaam as part of his attempt to curse the Jews (Num. 24:5):

מַה טֹּ֥בוּ אֹהָלֶיךָ יַעֲקֹב מִשְׁכְּנֹתֶיךָ יִשְׂרָאֵל – “How beautiful are your tents, Jacob, your dwelling places, Israel!”

These words often adorn the outside walls of our synagogue buildings, and they are also sung at festive occasions.

Rabbi Dunner examines the meaning of these words, and the reason for their inclusion at the heart of Jewish liturgy.

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