The real donkey

12 Tamuz 5770

What is the meaning of the strange story of the talking donkey (or “ass” —aton) (Numbers 22:21-36)?  I suggest an answer based on  the donkey asking Balaam (22:28) why he had hit her zeh shalosh regalim (these three times) (the answer being that she saw an angel he could not).  Later, after Balaam blesses the Israelites 3 times, Balak (who had hired Balaam to curse the Israelites) asks Balaam (24:10) why he had recited blessings instead of curses zeh shalosh pe’amim (these three times).  At that moment, I would suggest, hearing a similar phrase allowed Balaam finally to see that Balak, for all his power and finery, was fundamentally as foolish as Balaam had been.

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