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.