Mah Tovu were the words which sprang to mind

The donkey said, "Don't do it."
The story is told of a powerful public official who sought to curse the Jews, whom he despised.
Do something, he insisted to his administrative manager.  Do it now.
Sweat began to break out on the aide’s forehead.  He had some idea what the next day’s news cycle might look like in the event he were to directly slur the Jews.
Instead, he turned to a lower level employee, whom some in the office called a mule, others  a donkey, and still others something worse.
Try as he might, the office equine could not find the words to denounce Jews.  Only this – from childhood bible classes  – would come to mind:
“How goodly are thy tents oh Jacob,
Your dwelling places, oh Israel.”
Which, of course, would have gotten him fired.
This admittedly apocryphal story, or the outlines of it, is an adaptation of the current week’s Torah portion, Balak.
Balak, the king of Moab, summons the prophet Balaam to curse the people of Israel. On the way, Balaam is berated by his donkey, who sees, before Balaam does, the angel that G‑d sends to block their way. Three times, from three different vantage points, Balaam attempts to pronounce his curses; each time, blessings issue forth instead. Balaam also prophesies on the end of the days and the coming of Moshiach.
Balak, the king of Moab, persuades the prophet Balaam to curse the Israelites so that he can defeat them and drive them out of the region. However, Balaam blesses the Children of Israel instead and prophesies that Israel’s enemies will be defeated. (22:2-24:25)
Three thousand years later, jealous adversaries are still lobbing curses at Jews.  As this week’s parsha teaches, these are not the first, and they certainly won’t be the last.
About the Author
A resident of Ann Arbor, Michigan, I hold BA and MA degrees in economics, and spent the first decade after graduate school in journalism. I have worked on Wall Street, met a payroll, won a wire service award, and served on three boards. With a partner, I am involved in a litigation funding business.
Related Topics
Related Posts