Open Your Eyes

The prophet Balaam's curse, which becomes a blessing, is a reflection of the relationship between God and the Israelites.

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Here the prophet urges Jerusalem--personified as a woman--to widen her tent with joy and make room for the multitudes who will enter the capital city. An expanded tent in a gracious and open city reflects the utopian and achievable goal of moving beyond oppositional concepts of native/stranger, friend/foe, chosen/rejected, male/female.

Are we ready to open our tents and our hearts to those who wish to dream-and then to build sacred communities that not only tolerate diversity and difference but also celebrate them? Can we move beyond narrow, divisive definitions and descriptions that are no longer useful? Might we transform our communities by welcoming those who come into our houses of worship with words that describe what our community can be? When our dwelling places become sanctuaries for all seekers of peace and justice, when our homes welcome all who no longer objectify the other, then we can truthfully declare, Mah tovu--how good, how fair, are our tents.

The product of fourteen years of work and the contributions of more than 100 scholars, theologians, poets, and rabbis—all of them women—The Torah: A Women’s Commentary is a landmark achievement in biblical scholarship and an essential resource for the study of the Bible. For more information or to order a copy, visit

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Rabbi Sue Levi Elwell

Rabbi Sue Levi Elwell is the founding director of the American Jewish Congress Feminist Center in Los Angeles. She served as the first rabbinic Director of Ma'yan, the Jewish Women's Project of the Jewish Community Center on the Upper West Side in New York City.