Sunday, July 13, 2008

Balaam's talking ass

(You might want to click on the second photo!)
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Today was Shabbat Balak. This means the Torah portion for the week is Parashat Balak, which is roughly Numbers 22-24, one of my favorite Bible stories. It deserves a read or reread. You will enjoy it, I promise.
Balaam, a non-Jewish prophet, is hired to curse the Israelites by Balak, the Moabite king. Balaam gets on his donkey and rides off to curse the People. Three times the she-ass tries to avoid a confrontation with an angel, who is holding a drawn sword and blocking their way. The man's eyes have not yet been opened and he is angered by his donkey's erratic behavior.

"When the donkey saw the angel of the Lord, she lay down [refusing to budge] for Balaam. Balaam's anger was kindled and he struck the ass with his staff." (Numbers 22:27)

"THEN THE LORD OPENED THE MOUTH OF THE ASS
and she said to Balaam, 'What have I done to you that you beat me these three times?' 'You have been playing games with me!' shouted Balaam at the donkey.'If I had had a sword in my hand just now, I would have killed you!' The donkey replied to Balaam, 'Am I not your ass, upon which you have ridden all your life long to this day? Was I ever accustomed to do so to you?' And he said, 'No.' "
"Then God opened the eyes of Balaam, and he saw the angel of the Lord standing in the way. . . and he kneeled and prostrated himself on his face."

Finally Balaam reaches his destination and opens his mouth to curse, but blessings come out instead. In fact, the words of Balaam are to this day sung or recited in our daily morning prayers. "Ma tovu--how good are your tents, Jacob, your tabernacles, Israel."


To see other animals visit Misty Dawn at Camera-Critters this weekend.

26 comments:

Louise said...

This is a great story. We love it!

fishing guy said...

Dina: Great story and what a funny face when you open that second photo.

Michelle said...

Another wonderful story Dina..

B. Roan said...

Now that made me laugh! The second photo cannot be appreciated without being enlarged. Enlarge away. Too funny!

b13 said...

That second shot is fantastic. I love the expression on that ass in the middle!

AppleDebbie said...

What a wonderful story and photos! I love the "talking ass" in the second photo... lol!

Leora said...

What a wonderful way to present the parsha! My husband asked the two little girls at our table today if there was donkey in the Torah. The younger one, the visitor, said "no," but my daughter said yes with a big smile! Love the pics to go with the story.

Christy said...

Great pictures to go with the story. I don't know for sure but I have a fondness for donkeys. I think it might have something to do with the cross-marking on their back. I have yet to see one that doesn't have it. I keep looking just to be sure though.

Kay said...

I really enjoyed your story and the photos to go with it.

USelaine said...

What a marvelous pairing of photos with story! Thank you Dina. I have new respect for the mini-donkey in my neighborhood.

babooshka said...

You always manage to combine the image with wonderful narrative of a story I had long forgotten about.

Reader Wil said...

Thank you Dina for telling this story! It's a very beautiful story and I have told it often at school and Sundayschool. The donkey is a very important animal in Christianity. It was a donkey who carried Jesus as a baby to Egypt to protect him for Herod the king who slaughtered all boys under three years and a donkey carried Jesus to Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, a week before Eastersunday.It's a beautiful animal.

Louis la Vache said...

Oh that the asses in the halls of the U.S. Congress were as wise as Balaam's! (You probably feel that way about Ohlmert and his government!)

"Louis" thanks you for the note about the Vatican proclamation and has updated his post, including a tip o' th' hat to Dina!

petra michelle; Whose role is it anyway? said...

Hello, Dina. What an interesting story. And the photos really help bring it to life!

Louis la Vache said...

The second photo is priceless!

* * * *

The Eucharistic prayer we used that is derived from the Kiddush is:"Blessed are you, O Lord our God, maker of all things. Through your goodness we have these gifts. With them we offer ourselves to your service and for the care and redemption of all that you have made, for the sake of him who gave himself for us, Jesus Christ our Lord.

Your EG Tour Guide said...

Wonderful Camera Critter to accompany a great story.

Tipper said...

Balaam is one of my favorite stories in the Bible. All my life I've heard references to "even a donkey knew to show respect and honor to God."

GMG said...

Hi Dina!
Thanks for your comments on Blogtrotter, now at the Michigan Law School! Hope you take pleasure in it and wish you a great week!

Misty Dawn said...

This is a truly fantastic post with absolutely wonderful photos to accompany it!

Gretchen said...

What a great story!

JC said...

Dina, I love the story of Balaam. Clicking on that second photo was just what I needed as I am a little stressed with packing and needed a break.

Congrats on your award. Very well deserved.

I'll be seeing you soon. JC

Louis la Vache said...

Speaking once again of talking asses that lack the wisdom of Balaam's, "Louis" sees that Olmert was in Paris trying to give the country away again. When is Israel going to broom this guy?

Kris McCracken said...

What a cute ass.

i beati said...

reminds me of the nativity

Sara said...

Yes, I always feel sorry for the donkey when I read this story...but so glad the Lord opened her mouth at last! And Balaam still doesn't get the message...he's more stubborn than what a donkey is known to be. Who was the real "donkey?"

The D in D & T said...

So worth opening the second photo! Brilliant :)