DONKEYS AND THE WORD OF GOD
By Rabbi Rafi Rank, The CyberRav
Shabbat Shalom, Everyone. CyberRav here with a bit of Aural Torah for you!
Once upon a time there lived an evil king by the name of Balak who greatly feared the Israelites. He had no real reason to fear the Israelites, but okay—we all have our irrational fantasies and anxieties and his surrounded the Israelites. So what did he do? He sent his royal messengers to the local evil wizard by the name of Balaam to curse the Israelites such that they would ultimately be defeated.
Now at first, the evil wizard did not want to do it and sent the messengers away. But Balak persisted, sent another more prestigious delegation and promised Balaam rich rewards for his services. So Balaam, the economy being what it was relented and set out in the morning to curse the Israelites.
Now Balaam traveled to Israel’s camp by donkey which, certainly saves on the cost of gas, but alas—the donkey was not terribly cooperative. She caught a vision of the Lord standing in her way and swerved off the road. Balaam beat her. The donkey set out again and caught another vision of the Lord directly in her way, ran off the road and crushed her master’s foot into a wall. Balaam beat her again. The donkey set out a third time and saw the Lord in her way yet again, so she simply sat and Balaam gave her a thorough thwacking. Today we would have arrested him for animal cruelty but back then, this is how the great wizard was accustomed to treating his beast of burden.
Whereupon the Lord opened the donkey’s mouth and she spoke. Actually, she complained—What have I done to you that you have beaten me these three times? Balaam answered—You mock me. Had I a sword, I’d kill you. Well, it didn’t take long before Balaam himself saw what the donkey had seen all along—an angel of the Lord with drawn sword in hand. Balaam dismounted and bowed before the Lord. The angel allowed Balaam to go on his mission, but only if he promises to say exactly what the Lord puts into his mouth. And to make a long story short, the great wizard does see Israel and opens his mouth to curse them, but only words of blessing emerge. And that is the story of Balak, Balaam, the donkey and the Israelite people.
The funny thing about this story is so many read it and say—talking donkeys! And this from a so-called book, the Torah, that is supposedly the absolute truth? And the answer to that shocking realization is this—Lighten up. It’s a sacred story. It’s a story not really about a talking donkey. It’s really an enchanting and lively tale about the power of God to put words in our mouths. And if a dumb donkey can successfully reiterate the words of God, how much more so human beings who have the intelligence to study the word of God that it be forever on their tongues and their lips.
And by the way, people who really have the word of God on their lips never curse, they only bless.
This is Rafi Rank, the CyberRav, wishing you a Shabbat Shalom, and encouraging you to spread a little aural Torah around your Cyber community!
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