02 Jul Rabbi Hillel Skolnik’s Torah Spark for Balak 5775
This Shabbat we read from Parashat Balak which includes perhaps the most unusual moment in the entire Torah, the episode of the talking donkey who chastises Bilam for the repeated beatings. (It turns out the donkey was simply avoiding walking into angels of God that were impeding their path, only Bilam couldn’t see them and so he didn’t understand.) While a talking donkey is most unusual, what is unfortunately usual – for ancient times and modern – is people doing their best to curse the Israelite/Jewish people and using every resource at their disposal to bring us harm. And while I wish we could count on angel-seeing donkeys to keep those people away, it seems that this would be a faulty strategy. What it reminds us is that we, the Jewish people of the world, have both the right and the responsibility to stand up and be the angels blocking the path. There will always be those who wish us harm and we always have to be there to stop them.
Rabbi Hillel Skolnik