Drash Cards for Balak (5764)
by Marc Mangel
• Ch 22-24, almost all of what we read today, is called the “Book of Bilaam”. It has four oracles.
• First, Bilaam is brought by Balak and sees Israel from a height. He realizes that God will not curse them (Ch 23, v 7-10)
• Second: Bilaam learns that ritual sacrifice will not resolve God’s support of Israel (Ch 23, v 18-24)
• Third: The time of the blessing approaches and Bilaam gives the blessing (Ch 24, v 3-9)
• Fourth: Bilaam — now possessing the Divine spirit — prophesies that Moab will fall under Israel’s domination (Ch 24:15-19)
• The Zohar says: “Stories in the Bible cannot be what they seem to be about — we could write better stories”
• The Bilaam story was very famous. For example, in 800 BCE or so the non-Israelite temple at Deir Alla had the Bilaam story on its walls
• Did Franz Rosenzweig really believe that the ass talked? He said “On Shabbat when we read it, I believe it”
• Why is this story inserted here? The Israelites don’t even know that the event happened.
• Here are some reasons: • God wanted Israel to be blessed by a non-Jew; • God wanted to show why prophecy was taken away from non-Jews [Bilaam — the most famous seer of history — could not see what his ass could see]; • God turned Bilaam’s curses into blessing to prevent everyone from believing in seers and superstitions.