Friday, July 6, 2012

The Speaking Donkey

This week's Torah thoughts are dedicated to King the donkey, formerly of Telford Lane in Ramona, now retired to Texas.

This week's Torah portion is Balak (Numbers 22:2 - 25:9).  The Israelites are in Moabite territory, growing more numerous and powerful.  Alarmed, Balak, king of Moab, hires the Midianite prophet Balaam to curse the people Israel.  He tries to do so, but every time he looks at them, from every vantage point, the only words that God sends to his mouth are words of blessing. 

The most startling feature of this Torah portion is the speaking donkey, as Balaam makes his way to meet Balak.  The animal clearly sees before her an angel of the Lord  blocking her path and appropriately steps aside to avoid him.  For this, Balaam beats her.  After two more encounters with the angel, each followed by a beating, the donkey finally turns to Balaam and says "What are you beating me for?  You've been riding me all day; is this how I usually behave?"  Only then does Balaam look up and see the angel, drawn sword in hand, standing before him.

We will probably live our whole lives without ever encountering a speaking donkey, but we come across Balaam's situation every day.  If you are so caught up in your daily business and your own train of thought that you can't see an angel of the Lord before you, you need to pay more attention to what's going on around you.

Take down your Bible and read the whole Torah portion this Shabbat.  You'll enjoy it.

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