by Ruth Rosenstein - July 3, 2015

Balaam, a sorcerer, was summoned by King Balak of the Moabites to curse the Israelites as Moses was leading them toward Canaan. Balak promised to pay Balaam handsomely for bringing evil upon the Jewish people, whom he feared. In the night, God came to Balaam, telling him not to curse the Israelites. Balaam sent the King’s messengers away. He did, however, go with a second send of Balak’s messengers after being warned by God.

On the way, Balaam’s donkey saw the angel of God standing in their path, brandishing a sword. The donkey turned, drawing a beating from Balaam. The second time the animal saw the angel, she pressed against a wall, crushing Balaam’s foot. Again he beat the donkey. The third time the donkey saw the angel, she lay down under Balaam, who beat her severely with his staff.

At that, the Lord opened the donkey’s mouth and it said to Balaam, “what have I done to you to make you beat me these three times?” -- Numbers 22:28

After Balaam argued with the beast, the Lord opened the sorcerer’s eyes so he too could see the angel. The angel scolded Balaam and ordered him to go to Balak but to speak only what God told him.

The king took Balaam to several mountains, ordering him to curse the Israelites on the plains below, but instead the sorcerer gave four oracles, repeating God’s convenant of the blessing on the Jewish people.

Questions for reflection include: are my thoughts consistent with my actions? When I obey God am I doing it begrudgingly or out of love for Him/Her?

This Friday evening is also “Erev July 4” -- Independence Day in America. The rebels that broke away from England wanted to find their religious freedom by coming to America. “My country ‘tis of thee, of thee I sing” and “Hatikvah” -- “Hope.”

Shabbat Shalom.

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