Shabbat Shalom, 13 Tammuz 5773

Balaam and the Ass, 1626, Rembrandt

This week’s parsha is Balak בָּלָק , covering Numbers 22:2-25:9.

Balak contains the story of Balaam and Ass in which the donkey is given the ability to speak (one of only two animals in the Torah to do so, the other being the snake). According to the Mishnah, the donkey’s mouth was one of the ten things created by G-d at the time of twilight on the first Shabbat.

Oy, the things that donkey said!

When overhearing Balaam explain while he was riding a donkey rather than a horse, the ass interupted, “Am I not your donkey?” To which Balaam  rudely and incorrectly replied, “Merely for carrying loads.” “Upon which you have ridden.” retorted the donkey. “That was only by chance.” said Balaam.  “Ever since I was yours until this day.” replied the donkey.

Hee-haw! Other than the lesson that only bad people strike donkeys there are no commandments in Balak.

Translation at JTS:

Sources of commentary:




My Jewish Learning:

Rabbi Falcon:

Animated at G-dcast:

Funding for Whidbey Island Jewish Community was made possible, in part, by a grant from the Special Initiatives Fund of the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle.


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