Balak – Shlishi

Balaam’s Donkey Makes a Monkey Out of Him

By Rabbi Jack Abramowitz

Balaam got up in the morning and saddled his donkey. G-d was angered at Balaam’s enthusiasm to curse the Jews, so He sent an angel to teach him a lesson.

The donkey saw the angel standing in the road with a drawn sword, so it left the road and walked in the field. Balaam beat the donkey to get it back on the road.

Next, the angel appeared before the donkey on a narrow path. There was a wall on either side, so the donkey moved over to one side, crushing Balaam’s foot against the wall in the process. Again he angrily beat the donkey.

Finally, the angel appeared before the donkey in a place too narrow to navigate around him. Having no choice, the donkey just lay down. Balaam totally lost his temper and beat the donkey with a stick.

G-d then made a miracle and enabled the donkey to speak. It asked Balaam, “What have I done to deserve such treatment?”

Balaam was oddly unfazed by this and he replied, “You’ve been making a fool of me! If I’d had a sword, I would have killed you!”

The donkey continued, “Don’t we go back a long time? Have you ever known me to give you any trouble?”

“No,” Balaam admitted sheepishly.

At that point, G-d allowed Balaam to perceive the angel, sword and all. Balaam prostrated on the ground.

“Why did you beat your donkey these three times?” the angel asked. “All she was doing was protecting you! If the donkey hadn’t avoided me, I’d have killed you and let her live!”

“I didn’t know!” Balaam replied. “I see I was wrong to want to go; I’ll return home!”

“You can still go,” the angel informed Balaam, “just be careful to do as you’re told.

When Balaam arrived, Balak came out to greet him. He asked why Balaam required so much persuasion. “I’m here now,” Balaam replied. He then reiterated that he could only say the words that G-d would dictate.

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