Don’t Hit the Donkey! | IFCJ
Skip Navigation
Jerusalem

Don’t Hit the Donkey!

Donkey

Then 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

The Torah portion for this week is Balak, after the king of the Moabites, from Numbers 22:2–25:9, and the Haftorah is from Micah 5:6–6:8.

Long before Mr. Ed, the talking horse, or the talking donkey from “Shrek,” there was Balaam’s donkey. This week’s portion contains the fascinating story about a king, a sorcerer, and a talking donkey. The three were on a mission to curse the children of Israel, but they did not succeed. In the process, we learn an important lesson from the mouth of the donkey.

Here is what happens: After agreeing to help King Balak of Moab weaken the Israelites, Balaam, a sorcerer, traveled to where the children of Israel were encamped. He woke up early in the morning, saddled his donkey, and headed out with the officials of Moab who had come to accompany him.

Yet God, who was very angry that Balaam would attempt to harm His chosen people, sent an angel with a sword to block his way. Only the donkey saw the angel, and so only the donkey tried to avoid it, resulting in Balaam beating his donkey to get it back on course.

This episode repeated itself three times until “the LORD opened the donkey’s mouth” and it said: “What have I done to you to make you beat me these three times?” The donkey reminded Balaam that he had always been a faithful servant. Finally, Balaam’s eyes were opened, and he saw the angel and understood.

The Hebrew word for donkey is chamor. It shares almost the same letters as the word chomer, which means “material.” In our story, the donkey represents material things and physicality. Often times in our lives, when we can’t do what we want or get what we want, we blame our material situation. We get angry that we don’t have enough money, or frustrated that our car broke down. We blame the weather, our appearance, our house, you name it! But it’s never really the material objects that are in our way. There is something that we can’t see – an angel of some sort – blocking our way, for reasons known only to God.

Don’t hit the donkey! The material part of our life has served us well, and we need to be extremely grateful for it all! If something is blocking us, it’s because God has decided that we shouldn’t go somewhere or do something – and it’s always for our very best. In Hebrew, the word for “angel” also means “messenger.” When the material things in our lives don’t work as we would wish, it’s because they are being blocked by an angel, a messenger from God.

I recently read this quote: “Problems are not stop signs, they are guidelines.” When our material objects don’t do what we want, they are merely pointing us in another direction. It would be wise to follow those signs. They are given to us by God’s loving guidance.

LATEST DEVOTIONAL

Fill Up On Love

February 21, 2019

Fill yourself with God’s love, and there’ll be no space for anything else.

Read More

NEW TEACHING RESOURCE

Study of Ruth

A Study on Ruth

The Book of Ruth is traditionally read during Shavuot, both for its ties to the harvest season and for Ruth's vow to follow the God of Israel. Learn more about her legacy of faith and loyalty with this free Bible study, The Life of Ruth.

Download Now

HOW TO HELP

Photo of Rabbi Eckstein by plane with new olim on Wings of Eagles Aliyah - The Fellowship has scheduled an emergency Memorial Freedom Flight departing to bring 240 Ukrainian Jews, who are being targeted with anti-Semitic hatred and violence, home to Israel.

Memorial Freedom Flight

You can honor Rabbi Eckstein's life and ministry through your memorial On Wings of Eagles gift in his name. The first Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein Memorial Freedom Flight departs on February 24th lifting off from Ukraine, to bring Jews who are being targeted with anti-Semitic hatred and violence, home to Israel. Your impact will further Rabbi Eckstein's mission and the prophetic rescue of God's people from the "four corners of the earth" (Isaiah 11:12 KJV).

Donate Now